CFP: On Distraction (10/1/04; journal issue)

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On Distraction

differences invites essays on the topic of distraction. Distraction
has been theorized as a variant of social conduct associated with the
loss of the aura, the rise of cinema, and the advent (and tastes) of
the mass audience. Distraction is also a prominent feature of the
permanent war on terror, one name for a pervasive cultural undertone
echoing in the wake of September 11th. If terrorism imposes
discontinuity in the obvious forms of death and destruction, a more
general sense of blurring, loss of focus, and sensations of temporal
delay, deferral, and preoccupation are also among its myriad and
still unfolding everyday effects. This mode of distraction, rather
than panic or even trauma, may be the keynote of the aftermath of
terror for a population at some distance from its immediate impact,
"a collectivity in a state of distraction" (Benjamin). Distraction,
then, is not only the disruption of concentration but one of its
forms, a diffusion of attention or double vision; the distracted
collectivity lives with the imperative that it must go about its
"normal" life while remaining ever vigilant.

Recent invocations of distraction underline the search for relief
from anxiety in comforting "distractions" or point to "weapons of
mass distraction" to characterize a certain politics. We invite
contributors to think distraction not only as "distraction from," but
in a substantive form--distraction as a mutation or transformation of
concentration. If distraction marks the impossibility of
concentration under certain conditions, how does this apparent
negation engender practical and social effects and/or bear
philosophical and ideological weight? How is distraction as
interruption partnered by distraction as a persistent mode of
deferral, blurring, or preoccupation?

Papers might address the permutations of distraction in our ever more
intensely mass-mediated society: distraction and cyberculture,
distraction and new media, distraction and "reality" television.
What are the politics of distraction? How should we think
distraction as defense, as strategy, or as dissimulation? What is
the nature of distraction as compensation or palliation? What is the
pleasure of distraction? Alternatively, submissions might consider
the addictive, compulsive, or obsessive quality of distraction. What
is the temporality of distraction? What is the currency of
distraction as an aesthetic mode? Distraction is a topic with a
critical history, and we would welcome work that builds upon,
disputes, or revises arguments like those made by Benjamin, Kracauer,
and others.

d i f f e r e n c e s, Box 1958, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912
BY OCTOBER 1, 2004.

--Denise DavisManaging Editor---------------differences:A Journal of Feminist Cultural StudiesPembroke CenterBox 1958Brown UniversityProvidence, RI 02912tel: (401) 863-1211fax: (401) 863-1298<> =============================================== From the Literary Calls for Papers Mailing List Full Information at or write Erika Lin: ===============================================Received on Tue May 04 2004 - 19:40:08 EDT