The journal differences invites essays on “the event” as a category of experience and analysis.
This special issue asks what it has meant and now means to think in terms of the event. September 11th, the subway bombings in Europe, the tsunami in Asia, and Hurricane Katrina, for example, all came in rapid succession. The magnitude of change condensed into each of these comparatively brief historical episodes made it seemingly impossible to consider them as simply one more tick of the clock. The outsized relationship between their historical
significance and their chronological span marked these episodes as events. On the one hand, they simply called attention to the ongoing appearance of the new in our lives by reminding us of our contingency. On the other hand, they appeared to introduce something radically new into the realm of human experience.
There have been other ways to think the event—as not only a radical but also a quotidian aspect of human experience. A range of thinkers and artists have turned to the event as a
frame, a practice, a subject of study, and an opening onto the future. Visual and performance artists have explored the event as a creative increment. Poets and fiction writers have attempted through aesthetic intervention to turn reading itself into an event. Deconstruction and certain literary criticisms have argued that reading is always an event—a coming-into-being of the new. Although histories trained on a restricted episode are much less common than they once were, the event remains a respectable object of historiographic knowledge. The media event has been theorized across a range of fields. The event has preoccupied philosophers from Leibniz to Badiou.
Contributors are encouraged to consider the event as it has been historically understood and as it now signifies. Essays seeking to cross fields—the historical and the philosophical, for example—are especially encouraged. Contributors might address, for instance, the shifting terrain of the media event: much discussed in the mid-1990s, how does the media event work now, after globalization and since the advent of digital culture? In the field of literature, is the
notion of reading as an event that articulates some “new” a valid paradigm in the face of the recent resurgence of literary realism and the turning away from the experiments of modernism and postmodernism? How did the art happenings of the 1950s and 1960s engage the experiential nature of the event as part of their art practice? How has recent performance art by artists such as Ma Liuming and Marina Abromovic rethought the event as a form of art? How
does the event figure (or not) in current historiographic practices? To what extent does Badiou’s recent writing on the event represent a break with and innovation upon earlier
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