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Call for papers for n° 15: “Terrorisms”

The term “terrorism” appeared in the Dictionnaire de l’Académie française in 1798. It makes pejorative reference to Public Welfare Committee policy during the Reign of Terror. Etymologically, the term refers to a “trembling produced by fear” (terror, -oris), “causing trembling through fear” (terribilis). Lacan states that “if the Latin substantive terror has no etymological relationship with terra, which gave terrer, the homophony heard in both, and terror, etymologically linked to trembling, is responsible for this sense of reduction to immobility and silence” (Séminaire V).

This silence which engenders terror can also be connected to “rejecting the language” of terrorists. The intellectual genesis of terrorism would have thus been linked to a form of nihilism (Camus, Glucksmann, L’Heuillet). Though lacking a “theory of violence”, the historical origins of terrorism can be associated with the Jewish Revolt, or even with that of the assassins. Finally, from a legal point of view, it is more through its effects (modifying the behavior of civilian populations) than its methods (planting bombs etc.) that terrorism is defined (Garapon). In view of these many approaches, a resistant rhetoric is rising up, one of terrorists who claim to be responding, in self-defense, to a former state terrorism (Derrida and Habermas).

In this issue we would like to focus on the artistic imaginaries and aesthetics of terrorism. How does art, and in particular literature, deal with this trembling, and how do they examine the different meanings that support the concept of terrorism? We could, for example, think of Dada whose nihilism is demonstrated in the form of an explosion of representation and language. We could also think of Millenium People by J.G. Ballard and Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, who use terrorist acts to critique consumerist society.

Beyond a thematic approach, can we speak of terrorist writing? What, for example, of Antonin Artaud, who advocates theatre resembling the plague, that is to say, “total crisis after which there is only death or extreme purification”? Are there works which, through their results, could be linked to a “terrorist standing”, as Viennese Actionism could be to the visual arts?

While the attacks of September 11th resulted in a number of publications, and as such a re-examination of the aestheticization of disaster, the call for papers on this topic is open to all periods and genres: the only requirement is that the approach be comparative. Proposals (3000 characters), along with a brief bibliography and a short author’s statement, should be sent before October 22nd 2012 in Word format to: Selected articles must be submitted by December 15th 2012. As a reminder, TRANS- accepts articles in English, French and Spanish.

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