CFP: The Thinkability of Despair (3/1/07; journal issue)

full name / name of organization: 
Rei Terada
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THE THINKABILITY OF DESPAIR: a special issue of Postmodern Culture

Abstracts for articles by 3/1/07; accepted articles due in full by
12/15/07 for publication in 2008. Please email abstracts to Rei
Terada, Department of Comparative Literature, University of
California, Irvine, CA, 92697:, or to

If trauma theory is an account of how things come to be unthinkable,
how should we conceive positively the possibility and uses of
thinking about those things that we least want to think about? What
happens when what might well have been traumatic is thought, and when
things that we might assume are "unthinkable" are considered? How
might political, psychological, and/or philosophical thought build
itself constructively around the experience and acknowledgment of

Adorno, for example, struggles with this question in Negative
Dialectics: he both comments on the "unthinkability of despair" for
Kant and leaves room for its thinkability in general. Kantian reason,
Adorno suggests, "hope[s] against reason" to correct the wrong of
death (385); by this logic, Kant fails fully to tolerate his own
knowledge. Writing on his own account, Adorno opines that despair is
thinkable in a self-differential or dialectical form: "grayness could
not fill us with despair if our minds did not harbor the concept of
different colors" (377).

Articles may consider topics from a theoretical and/or cultural
studies perspective that emphasizes the impact of their arguments on
postmodern culture; they may explore writers such as Adorno,
Blanchot, Klein, Nietzsche, and Weil; unblinking confrontations with
violence, death, or genocide; the conditions of possibility of
thinkability; giving up; "nihilism"; the philosophical genealogy of
despair; dynamics of hope and despair in contemporary politics;
psychoanalytic theories of working through, and their intersection
with political theory; hegemony and totalitarianism; visual artists
and filmm/07akers (L. Freud, Warhol).

Postmodern Culture is a peer-reviewed electronic journal published by
Johns Hopkins University Press

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Received on Fri Oct 06 2006 - 15:55:57 EDT