From the Chronicle of Higher Ed's obit of Derrida:
Ms. Kamuf, a professor of French and comparative literature at the University of Southern California, recalled on Saturday what it was like to read Derrida's work as a graduate student at Cornell University in 1970.
"There was a sense of urgency when we encountered it," she said, "urgency in the context of the American political circumstances at the time. It was a few months after Kent State. But we were intellectuals who were not willing just to condemn the university, to renounce rigor of thought, in order to get out into the streets."
Derrida's theory, she said, offered a way to perform serious intellectual work in the humanities while maintaining "that urgency of response to the abuses of power" that fed political engagement.