Recommend to your Librarian

Untimely Politics

Samuel A. Chambers


Challenging the linear view of history which confines or predetermines the outcome of politics, this book argues for an 'untimely' politics, rendering the past problematic and the future unpredictable. Untimely Politics offers close readings of key texts in political theory and enters into debates involving metaphysics, philosophy of language, and psychoanalysis versus discursive analysis - all designed to demonstrate that untimeliness expands the scope of the political.

The ideas are weaved together around the theme of the relevance of language analysis to political debate, answering those critics who insist discourse approaches to politics are irrelevant. Calling on key texts of Heidegger, Nietzsche, Foucault and Derrida the book challenges the political burden which is placed on language analysis to prove its value in the real world. To demonstrate his arguments, Samuel Chambers uses the case study of same-sex marriage in the US to interrogate family values politics.

In seeking to explore the bearing of contemporary theory on practical political life, this book makes a timely plea for a more politically relevant form of intellectual work.

Key Features

  • detailed case study of same-sex marriages in the US is used to interrogate family value politics
  • shows the relevance of contemporary theory to practical political life
  • makes a plea for a more politically relevant form of intellectual work
  • aimed at both a Politics and a Cultural Studies readership

Books in the series are...

Valentine and Arditi Polemicization

Shapiro Cinematic Political Thought

Chambers Untimely Politics

Elden Speaking Against Number

Bowman Post-Marxism Versus Cultural Studies

Marchart Post-Foundational Political Thought

Little Democratic Piety


Introduction: 'Time is Out of Joint'
Chapter 1: Language and the 'Burden' of Politics
Chapter 2: Experience Language, Broaching Untimeliness
Chapter 3: Spectral History, Untimely Theory
Chapter 4: Untimely Reading: Foucault's Evasive Maneuvers
Chapter 5: Untimely Agency: Having the Historical Sense to 'Bypass' Psychoanalytic Theory
Chapter 6: The Untimely Politics of DOMA

About the Author

Samuel A. Chambers is a lecturer in Politics at Johns Hopkins University.


[A] splendid and, yes, timely book
This tough-minded book considers the politics of political theory... Admirably clear in dealing with difficult concepts, this book will interest theorists looking to deepen the critical project of 'poststructuralism'… This is a lively book, a good addition to EUP's admirably left-field series 'Taking on the Political', and Chambers is certainly 'one to watch'.
This is an excitingly disruptive book. It offers a substantial thesis in philosophy and then employs it productively. It is lucid, argumentative and topical. It wastes no words.
Packs a powerful intellectual punch that should at a minimum produce a thoughtful pause in an important debate about the status of contemporary theory and its relevance to political life.

Also in this series