ACLA 2022 Call for Papers: "Event, Nonevent, Unevent"

deadline for submissions: 
January 15, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Gabriel Quigley
contact email: 

American Comparative Literature Association 2022 Annual Meeting

National Taiwan Normal University

June 15-18


Event, Nonevent, Unevent



Gabriel Quigley, New York University (


“the event...brings to pass ‘something other’ than the situation, opinions, instituted knowledges...a hazardous, unpredictable supplement, which vanishes as soon as it appears.” – Alain Badiou, Ethics


            The event has served as a controlling concept in the fields of philosophy, political theory, literary theory, and history. Attracting thinkers like Martin Heidegger, Emmanuel Levinas, Maurice Blanchot, Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, and more recently, Jean-Luc Marion, Veena Das, Robin Wagner-Pacifici, and Slavoj Žižek, the concept of the event has been used to imagine such varied notions as radical novelty, unprecedented calamity, and the telos of poetic practice. But what gets neglected by philosophical, historical, and literary approaches that are built around the prioritization of the event? What does “the uneventful” yield, and what kinds of occasions court, resist, or upend the event as the principal paradigm of “happening”?

            This seminar proposes to examine the underside, detritus, and rejects of the event, as well as the moments and temporalities that impede “evental” thinking. Such modalities of nonevent, unevent, or anti-event include variations of “empty time” such as boredom (Benjamin), ennui (Baudelaire), and the ordinary (Cavell, Das). But this seminar also examines other para-events from literature, metaphysics, religion, and political theory, including the miracle (Whitman), the occasion (Beckett), the epiphany (Joyce, Woolf), the catastrophe (Beckett, Benjamin), and the disaster (Blanchot, Colebrook).

Some of the questions that this seminar engages with include: how has the category of “the uneventful” gained purchase in recent critiques of life in late capitalism, the digital milieu, and the postcolony? How do certain literary, philosophical, and artistic archives dethrone the event by illuminating what Hent de Vries has identified as “the miracle at the heart of the ordinary”? How can trauma be reconceived to address the smoldering of slow violence, systemic oppression, and micro-aggression, rather than the shock of a monolithic rupture? And are theories of the event still current for appraising the catastrophes of the last few decades: 9-11, Fukushima, and COVID-19, among others?


Possible topics:


-       Boredom, ennui

-       Political-theoretical approaches to the event (Badiou, Agamben, Žižek)

-       Metaphysical approaches to the event (Aristotle, Kant, Heidegger, Marion)

-       Historiography and the event (Braudel, the Annales School)

-       Miracles, occasions, epiphanies

-       Crisis, catastrophe, disaster

-       The event of literature (Blanchot, Derrida)

-       Necessity, contingency, the Speculative Turn (Meillassoux, Harman, Brassier)

-       Uneventfulness and the postcolony (Majumdar)

-       Surprise, shock, novelty

-       Narrative and the event (Ricoeur)

-       Literary modernism and the event, non-event, unevent

-       Ordinariness and the uneventful (Cavell, Das)

-       The event and trauma


Link to ACLA seminar description:


Link to ACLA annual meeting website and paper submission portal: