Lionel Ruffel: Towards a Contemporary Imaginary of Publication

Aesthetic Seminar.

2017.08.29 | Johanne Vejrup Nielsen

Date Thu 21 Sep
Time 14:15 17:00
Location Kasernen, Langelandsgade 139, Building 1584, Room 124

A tale haunts Western modernity: The tale of a literary public sphere. It places literary communication via the book as the idealized model for a democratic society on the march towards rationality. Moreover, it seems that there is a metonymic link between this literary imaginary and the very notion of modernity itself. Our contemporaneity disrupts this imaginary, especially the very notion of publication, which has again become central during the digital era, which is also an era of hyper-visibility. Publication has returned to its original sense of making public; it no longer denotes a private expression aimed at precise correspondents, but rather one aimed at more and more diverse publics. The whole of human communications is producing a publishing sphere, thanks to the democratization of tools formerly limited to privileged authorities, notably the publishers. If it is true that the imaginary of modern literature is constitutive of the fantasy of a “good” public sphere of democracy then we must find out what kind of societies are emerging from the publishing sphere. And if it is true that the literature embodied in the book is merely the modern actualization of the literary cultures, then how could we define contemporary literary cultures, superimposing practices in and outside of the book (performances, public readings, sound and visual work, fieldwork, literary residencies and festivals, salons, groups, diverse digital spaces, creative writing courses)? These are the main lines of inquiries this talk will follow, after a theoretical introduction based on Lionel Ruffel’s last book, Brouhaha – Worlds of the Contemporary (Minnesota Press, 2017), which is a global investigation of the meaning of the word “contemporary”. Ruffel will try to argue that literature has been one of the key concepts of modernity, just as publication is in the process of becoming one of the key concepts of the contemporary.


Programme: Aesthetic Seminars Autumn 2017

Seminar, Contemporary Aesthetics and Technology, Kunsthistorie, Æstetik og Kultur, Litteraturhistorie og Retorik