Social Text as both a collective and a publication has always troubled disciplinarity, with its commitment to various praxes and theories of the multi-, inter-, and transdisciplinary. This essay looks at the complex, if not ambivalent, place of literature in the multi-, inter-, and transdisciplinary space of Social Text. Literature, understood as a multiplicity of practices, theories, and critical methods, is a complex site for negotiating the tension of the universal and particular, a tension that governs, among others areas, the relation of theory and praxis and that of Marxist critique and empiricism. Pressuring the very success of the admonition to “always historicize,” renewed attention to the literary specificity of rhetoric as trope indicates new ways of understanding the relationship between the universal and the particular, by recognizing the political and ethical force of the emergent universality of singularity, literary and lived.

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