Complete Story

Ballif, Michelle

Special Issue 44:3, pages 243-255

Writing the Event: The Impossible Possibility for Historiography 

Abstract:   This essay argues that traditional historical methods elide the radical singularity of the event by subjecting the event to meaning by way of categorical norms that cannot—by definition—include the radical singularity of “what happened.” Such historiographical methods render every event significant only insofar as it becomes evidentiary to and subservient to a satisfying narrative with a proper beginning, middle, and end—all of which follow, chronologically, in a linear, logic of time. Relying on Jacques Derrida’s theorization of the event, specifically in “A Certain Impossible Possibility of Saying the Event,” this essay will address the impossible possibility of writing the event by way of a hospitable historiography—beyond the representational demand, appropriative impulse, and temporal mandate of traditional historical methods.

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