Deconstructionist Jacques Derrida reportedly had tried to use his coveted archives as leverage to derail a sexual harassment case against a professor at UC Irvine.
When a vampire expert allegedly seduced a tipsy UC Irvine student four years ago, he inadvertently set off a chain of events that now jeopardizes the school's control of a dead philosopher's prized archives.
The story came to light after UCI announced last week that it would drop a lawsuit against the widow and sons of philosopher Jacques Derrida, the acclaimed founder of deconstruction, an influential but bewildering theory that questions the concept of absolute truth.
In 1990, Derrida signed an agreement to donate his scholarly papers to UCI, where he taught part time. But after his death in 2004, Derrida's heirs began questioning the pact. The university tried to negotiate, then sued three months ago, a maneuver that outraged professors in California and beyond.
Buried in the news that UCI would resume negotiations with Derrida's family was a mysterious footnote: The feud over his archives was sparked by a letter Derrida sent to UCI shortly before his death.
In it, the pipe-puffing Frenchman threatened to pull the plug on the archives because he was furious about "some things the university was doing," said Peggy Kamuf, a USC professor and Derrida friend.
Kamuf wouldn't elaborate, but details have slowly emerged. According to multiple sources, Derrida wanted UCI to halt its investigation of a Russian studies professor, Dragan Kujundzic, who was accused of sexually harassing a 25-year-old female doctoral student. So he tried to use his archives as leverage to derail the case, they said.