Category Archives: Theory Moves

“Theory Moves” will collect new (or obscure) concepts to name and describe recurrent intellectual or cultural phenomena that have gone undernoticed. The animating idea here is that certain recurrent forms of thought or action go unrecognized, in part, because we are missing ways of naming and conceptualizing them. Here is one such concept:

Quantitative Tie-Breakers (Theory Moves)

Quantitative Tie-Breakers: [kwon-ti-tey-tiv tahy brey-kers] Noun Phrase The fundamental issue in the final stages of appellate adjudication almost always takes the form, “How can something that is inescapably two or more things at once be only just one thing.”   (Apologies to Thomas Reed Powell.)  … Continue reading

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Entry Framing (Theory Moves)

Entry Framing: [en-tree frey-ming] Noun Phrase The initial establishment in a text of a perspective, an orientation, a frame from or against which the text proceeds. Examples: An entry framing can establish a voice (“I am a spiteful man.  My liver is bad…”)   … Continue reading

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Individuation (Theory Moves)

in·di·vid·u·a·tion  noun \-ˌvi-jə-ˈwā-shən\ The determination of the proper or relevant individual unit for purposes of interpretation, analysis, calculation, etc.  Individuation portends both integration into a stable identity and differentiation of that identity from its environment. Antonym: fusion, dedifferentiation Example: A text … Continue reading

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Theoretical Unspecifiables (Theory Moves)

Theoretical Unspecifiable: [thee-uh-ret-i-kuhl un-spes-uh-fahy-uh-buhl] Noun Phrase In a theory or a mode of thought, an unspecified (and unspecifiable) term used to resolve gaps, contradictions, incommensurabilities and paradoxes.  A theoretical unspecifiable is conceptually nearly vacant (and inaccessible to theorization) but at the same … Continue reading

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Narcissistic Interpretation (Theory Moves)

Narcissistic Interpretation: [nahr-suh–sis-tik in-tur-pri-tey-shuhn] Noun Phrase A tendency to systematically misread the work of others in a way that confirms one’s world view or satisfies one’s psychological, political or professional needs. Antonym: charity in interpretation See also: déformation professionelle; taking … Continue reading

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