The Politics of Fictive Theories: Reading/Writing/Theory
  • Susan McManus
Part of the Studies in European Culture and History book series (SECH)


This book is an exploration of the work of fictions in political theories: the epistemological status those fictions claim, on the one hand, and the effects that they secure, on the other. I propose that political theory has worked within epistemologically conservative forms of knowledge. In seeking to articulate grounded conceptions of order and justice, the claims to knowledge of political theory are at once claims to power, which work toward coherence, containment, and control. This mode of theorizing, however, is based on misrecognition or forgetting: in the attempt to ground political theory in substantive norms, such as nature, rights, or even knowledge of the “the real,” theory must efface, negate, and forget its own constitutive fictions. In this effacement of the fictions that make theory work inheres the reification of political theory into a legislative, authoritative, and programmatic mode. Put otherwise: epistemologies of “the given,” conservative and ostensibly authoritative modes of knowledge-production, are always already creative epistemologies, but creative epistemologies that efface their contingency and creative power in favor of their legislative and authoritative power.


Political Theory Writerly Text Readerly Text Political Theorist Epistemological Status 
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© Susan McManus 2005

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  • Susan McManus

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