Idiom: Inventing Writing Theory

Series Editors: Jacques Lezra (University of California, Riverside) and Paul North (Yale University)

Idiom publishes books developing new critical and theoretical idioms. What can be said is how it is written—this is the series’ basic premise, which guides editorial decisions and book acquisitions.

Books in the series develop idioms that expand, deform, reinvigorate, or exceed existing genres and styles of theoretical writing in any discipline. The series name gestures toward a conflict between the familiar and the foreign within a language; it seeks to remind us that the edge of every dialect (including those dialects we call professional idioms and languages) is an idiolect. Spanish calls any language un idioma and this is one way to understand the word. Every language has its own modes, rules, exceptions that make it one language and not another. When an utterance is not foreign to a language we call it “idiomatic.” Idiom also indicates a potential plurality of foreign languages, otros idiomas, existing virtually within any individual tongue. These are the singular idioms through which a single language delaminates, stretches, and multiplies. We propose a shift from idiomatic theory—theory that sounds like theory—to idiomorphic theory, theoretical writing that takes a philological attitude toward its language—theory that loves language and loves especially language’s plasticity.

Idiom unshutters a venue for scholars to ask different and still profound questions in and around cultural critique, continental and Anglo-American philosophy, political, literary, art, and film theory, psychoanalysis, and other disciplines and discourses, using unexpected methods, in divergent modes of presentation. A renewal of theory should point toward reforms in the basic categories of intellectual work, indeed in the conception of intellectual activity as work, distinguishing between techniques and technologies, products and contents, acts and non-acts. We pitch a tent for homeless projects that draw into question basic disciplinary assumptions or dwell in underappreciated and marginal areas. The two requirements for books in the series are that they be theoretical in their approach and habit-breaking in their writing.