Tracy McNulty



Tracy McNulty, Professor of French and Comparative Literature, received her BA in French and English from U.C. Berkeley and her PhD in Comparative Literature from U.C. Irvine. Her research interests include 20th-century French literature and comparative modernism, psychoanalytic theory (especially Freud and Lacan), contemporary French philosophy, and political theory. In addition to these fields, she regularly teaches interdisciplinary courses on such questions as the origins of language, myth and symbolic thought, eroticism and perversion, and philosophical, scientific, and psychoanalytic theories of subjectivity and human agency. Her first book, The Hostess: Hospitality, Femininity, and the Expropriation of Identity, was published by the University of Minnesota Press in 2007. Her second, Wrestling with the Angel: Experiments in Symbolic Life (a defense of the liberating function of formal and written constraints in psychoanalysis, political theory, and aesthetics), came out with  Columbia University Press in 2014. Currently she is working on two new books. Libertine Mathematics: Perversions of the Linguistic Turn juxtaposes masterpieces of the libertine tradition by the Marquis de Sade, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, the Comte de Lautréamont, and Pauline Réage–each of which can be read as promoting a “language of the real” that would allow for an integral transmission of the drive—alongside contemporary theoretical works that have embraced the language of mathematical formalization—or of other non-signifying languages—either as an ultimate extension of, or as a rejection or overturning of, the so-called “linguistic turn” in twentieth century thought: Gilles Deleuze, Alain Badiou, and the “speculative realists," and in a different way Jacques Derrida and Jacques Lacan. A fourth book project, currently in progress, explores the intersubjectivity of political acts through the lens of psychoanalysis.

Research Focus

  • Contemporary philosophy and critical thought (especially theories of the subject)
  • Psychoanalytic theory
  • Contemporary French thought
  • Political theory
  • 18th and 20th century French literature
  • Literature and perversion



Intersubjective Acts: Freud in History (in progress).

Libertine Mathematics: Perversions of the Linguistic Turn (nearing completion).

Wrestling with the Angel: Experiments in Symbolic Life (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014). 

The Hostess: Hospitality, Femininity, and the Expropriation of Identity (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007). 

Edited volumes:

Tracy McNulty, editor, “Constructing the Death Drive,” special issue of Differences with essays by Willy Apollon, Lucie Cantin, Jeffrey Librett, Tracy McNulty, Steven Miller, and Daniel Wilson. Differences 28:2 (Spring 2017).

Jason Frank and Tracy McNulty, guest editors, “Taking Exception to the Exception,” special issue of diacritics with papers by Susan Buck-Morss, Jason Frank, Dominiek Hoens, Bonnie Honig, Jeffrey Librett, Tracy McNulty, Andrew Norris, Kam Shapiro, and Erik Vogt. Diacritics volume 37, nos. 2-3 (Spring 2008).

Chapters in Books:

“Hysteria," in Jeffrey Di Leo, editor, The Bloomsbury Handbook to Literary and Cultural Theory (Bloomsbury, forthcoming 2018).

“Beyond the Oedipus Complex: Dora, Antigone, and the Gift of the Symbolic Father,” in Ahnki Mukherjee, editor, After Lacan: Literature, Theory and Psychoanalysis in the 21st Century (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

“Modernist Political Theologies: Carl Schmitt’s Political Theology and Walter Benjamin’s ‘Critique of Violence’,” in Jean-Michel Rabaté, editor, 1922: Literature, Culture, Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 248-260.

“Desuturing Desire: The Work of the Letter in the Miller-Leclaire Debate,” in Peter Hallward and Knox Peden, editors, Concept and Form Volume II: Interviews and Essays on the Cahiers pour l’Analyse (London: Verso, 2012), 89-104.

“Weibliche Liebe und der Paulinische Universalismus,” in Verschränkungen von Symbolischem und Realem. Zur Aktualität von Lacans Denken in den Kulturwissenschaften, eds. Jochen Bonz, Gisela Febel, Insa Härtel (Berlin: Kulturverlag Kadmos, 2006).

“Mit dem Engel ringen,” in Wieder Religion ? Christentum im zeitgenössischen kritischen Denken (Lacan, Zizek, Badiou u.a.), eds. Marc De Kesel and Dominiek Hoens (Wenen: Turia + Kant, November 2005), 66-80.

“Feminine Love and the Pauline Universal,” in Alain Badiou: Philosophy and its Conditions, ed. Gabriel Riera (Albany: SUNY Press, 2005), 185-212. 

Journal Articles:

“The Body in the Procedure of the Pass," Division/Review: A Quarterly Psychoanalytic Forum, no. 17 (Fall 2017), 33-36.

“Unbound: The Speculative Mythology of the Death Drive,” Differences 28:2 (Spring 2017), 86-115.

“Speculative Fetishism,” Konturen VIII (2015), 99-132. Special issue on “The Thing.”

“The New Man’s Fetish,” The Southern Journal of Philosophy, Volume 51, Spindel Supplement (2013), 17-39.

“Enabling Constraints: Toward an Aesthetics of Symbolic Life,” Umbr(a) (2010), 35-63.

“Demanding the Impossible: Desire and Social Change,” Differences Volume 20, no. 1 (Spring 2008), 1-39.

“The Event of the Letter: Two Approaches to the Law and its Real” [on Alain Badiou], Cardozo Law Review Volume 29:5 (April 2008), 2209-2238.

“The Gap in the Law and the Border-Breaching Function of the Exception” [on Carl Schmitt and Jacques Lacan], Konturen volume I, 2008. (

“The Commandment Against the Law: Writing and Divine Justice in Walter Benjamin’s ‘Critique of Violence’,” diacritics volume 37, nos. 2-3 (Spring 2008), 34-60.

“Hospitality after the Death of God” [on Pierre Klossowski], diacritics volume 35, no. 1 (Spring 2005), 71-98.

“The Exceptional Father,” in (a): a journal of culture and the unconscious, volumes I and II (2005), 23-33. 

“Wrestling with the Angel” [on Emmanuel Lévinas and Saint Paul], Umbr(a), 2005, 73-84.

Signed, Dionysus: Nietzsche’s Lost Letter to Freud,” (a): a journal of culture and the unconscious, Volume II, no. 1, Fall 2002, 7-24.

“Solving the Sexual Impasse: Female Orgasm, Viagra, and the ‘Natural Law’ of Jouissance,” Savoir Volume 5, no. 1, September 2000, 75-100.

“Klossowski, ce soir,” (a): a journal of culture and the unconscious, Volume I, no. 1, Spring 2000,  81-103.

“Israel as Host(ess): Hospitality in the Bible and Beyond,” Jouvert: A Journal of Post-Colonial Studies, Volume 3, issues 1 and 2, 1999 (unpaginated).  

“The Other Jouissance, a Gay Sçavoir,” in Qui Parle, Volume 9, No. 2, Spring/Summer 1996, 126-159.

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