Editors’ note. For this anniversary issue of the journal, we sent the following invitation to a group of young contributors:
The thirtieth anniversary issue of differences has as its title:
-30- The End of the Story
We borrow the mark -30- that American journalists have traditionally used to indicate the end of a story. While one might debate whether or not the story of critical feminism itself has come to an end, there is no question that much has changed in the field.
Instead of offering our editorial thoughts as to which critical preoccupations have happily or unhappily expired over the years, which ones one might like to see go—or not—we invite you to reflect on these questions.
Of course, we aren’t entirely relinquishing our editorial prerogatives in the framing of issue -30-. For some time now we have been struck by the unfortunate predictability of so much of the critical work we see. It seems that the last thing one needs in politically challenging times is the already-known. We have thus been delighted to find in your work—however else you might differ from one another—the pleasure of the unexpected. It is for this reason that we invite you to reflect on -30-.
Among the various ways to theorize the unexpected, perhaps Freud’s notion of Witz is apt for these times. In his Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious, he examines how the well-turned joke (like the pun or the slip of the tongue) can propel the listener from one story to an entirely different story in an instant. While the instantaneous displacement of the joke is marked by laughter, it works to demonstrate Freud’s view of the serious fragility of the carefully ordered rationality in which we put so much faith. Displacements that disorder the well-worn paths of thought take many forms and varied objects and have often been the inadvertent—as well as the intended—end of feminist interventions.
We hope you will agree to offer your views on critical feminism -30-. You may address the question of the “end of the story” in any way you wish, remembering that for this journal “critical feminism” is by no means limited to conventional feminist themes but encompasses as well the problematic captured in the tensions of the title differences.