What is the contemporary? For about fifteen years now, this question has kept coming up, across many cultures and languages. Never before has an interrogation on historical identity been so widely shared and so profoundly globalized, which means also that never before have real and potential controversies been so intense and politicized. How do we account for the “brouhaha" without either restraining it or allowing it to overwhelm us?
Lionel Ruffel is a literary scholar, publisher and professor of Comparative Literature and Creative Writing at Université Paris 8. Among his recent projects, he has convened (together with artist Kader Attia) “Theory Now” in Paris, “The Publishing Sphere” at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin) and “Radio Brouhaha” at Pompidou Center, Paris. His last book Brouhaha, Worlds of the Contemporary (U. of Minnesota Press, 2018) is a global investigation (covering literary theory, cultural studies, contemporary arts and literatures) of what the word “contemporary” means and the reasons for why the term imposed itself within the field of representations and practices. He’s currently writing a collection of stories on literary history.