Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


French Studies

First Advisor

David Wills

Second Advisor

Greg Stone


This dissertation involves an examination of the effects and implications of three modes of citationality: hearsay, testimony and conference. As a term coined by Jacques Derrida, citationality involves the problematization of questions related to borders and limits and to the attempt to re-present the originary event thought to lie beyond the performance of citational acts of bearing witness. In chapter one I situate my project theoretically through an examination of the principles of deconstruction. In particular, Jacques Derrida's work on the metaphysical concepts of presence and speech, in terms of repeatability or iterability, bears heavily on my study. As a function of iterability, citationality refers to the potential inherent in every element, textual, linguistic, or otherwise, to be disseminated and cited in a plurality of contexts and to assume a new and different meaning. It is from this perspective, from the possibility of citation, of exceeding limits and escaping regulation, that I conduct my analysis of what I call "hearsay," "testimony" and "conference" in certain twentieth century texts. Chapters two through four focus on an application of the previously mentioned modes of citationality in the texts of Marguerite Duras, Maurice Blanchot and Jacques Derrida, respectively. In chapter two, I examine Marguerite Duras' Lol V. Stein cycle in which a reliance on hearsay impedes textual closure while generating a multiplicity of other texts that cite and re-cite one another. In chapter three, I analyze several recits by Maurice Blanchot in terms of testimony. These texts reveal the problematic in attempting to access and re-present that which has already been present and result in an effect of mise-en-abime of citations. Chapter four involves a reading of several polylogues by Jacques Derrida as instances of conference. Their insistence on a plurality of voices enables a deconstruction of the logos of restitution. While chapters two through four are devoted to a narrow application of a practice of citationality, chapter five marks the expansion of my topic. In this chapter, I situate previously raised questions of citationality in contemporary contexts with political and cultural implications.