This essay explores the recurrent forgetting of the instability that difference introduces into the realm of theory. Using works by Paul de Man, Barbara Johnson, and Todd Haines as reference points, the author suggests that the reification of difference as specific, identifiable differences marks the inescapable turning away from the absence, the difference from identity, the insistence of exclusion as such that difference tries to address. Arguing in this way against certain versions of historicism and multiculturalism, the author refers back to the moment when the journal differences first appeared in order to reanimate the intellectual energies that characterized its founding and to recall the insights that Naomi Schor, Elizabeth Weed, and Ellen Rooney brought to bear on the question of difference.

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