Saturday, November 27, 2010

boundary 2

Another journal founded in the poststructural moment of early 1970s, boundary 2 today has taken a turn away from its initial concerns, but seems unsure of where it's going. Initially edited at SUNY-Buffalo, it once mixed theory with postmodern poetry (Black Mountain and SUNY-Buffalo poets like Creeley, Olsen, and Bernstein), publishing as many poems as essays in its early issues. boundary 2 implicated itself in the debates around deconstruction and postmodern aesthetics through the 70s and 80s. Postmodernism for this journal was, with few exceptions, celebrated as a sort of Nietzschean anti-enlightenment discourse full of liberatory potential, leveraged against the totalizing knowledges of scientific modernity and the ambitious aesthetic and architectural works of high modernism.

Now edited at the University of Pittsburgh, boundary 2 has reimagined itself. In the early 2000s, its submissions page was revised to read the following:

The editors of boundary 2 announce that they no longer intend to publish in the standard professional areas, but only materials that identify and analyze the tyrannies of thought and action spreading around the world and that suggest alternatives to these emerging configurations of power. To this end, we wish to inform our readers that, until further notice, the journal will not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

(We should note in passing that they haven't closed submissions: each issue tends to contain CFPs for upcoming special issues.) Whether they've lived up to this re-politicization, though, is a matter of debate. They haven't entirely abandoned the literary forms on which they staked their initial reputation (recent special issue on contemporary poetics from Chistian Bok to flarf; another on “big” novels since Gravity's Rainbow; essays discussing Bernstein, Ashberry, and Baraka). But beyond these literary interests, boundary 2 appears to have taken seriously questions raised by the globalization of culture. Special issues on Chinese cultural politics and political form, as well as on the 1960s as a multi-polar “event” (in France's May '68, but also Latin America, Poland, the Caribbean, and the “New” South [U.S.]), as well as a continuing interest in global film, suggest a genuine attempt to engage with non-western epistemologies and political forms. This despite the obvious constraints of a journal published and largely written within the American academy.

Other recent concerns include the fate of the university; the Tea Party; techno-animality; the Catholic Church's relationship to science; Said on Zionism; Gramsci on civil society; Virilio on Virilio; states of emergency and republican power; and, at last, a “zombie manifesto”.

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