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Lionel Ruffel

Lionel Ruffel is Department Head and Professor of Comparative Literature at Université Paris 8, where he has founded and continues to oversee the program in creative writing. He was awarded a grant from the French University Institute for his individual research program, “Archeology of the Contemporary: literature, culture, knowledge” 

Ruffel is involved in French and international literary and artistic life as a publisher, curator, literary advisor, and columnist. Among his latest projects are "Theory Now" at La Colonie in Paris and “The Publishing Sphere” at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin).

He is the founding director of the online literary journal “chaoïd”, and of the subsequent series “chaoïd” at Verdier Publishing House.

Ruffel is also the author of three monographs: Le Dénouement (2005); Volodine post-exotique (2007); Brouhaha, Worlds of the Contemporary (2016 French, 2017, English), and over 40 book chapters and articles, published in five languages.

Ruffel has held visiting positions at the University of St. Andrews, Boston University, Moscow State University and has been a Humboldt Fellow at the Peter Szondi Institute (Freie Universität/Berlin).


Translated by Raymond N. MacKenzie | Univocal/University of Minnesota Press, 2017

A rigorous inquiry into the question of the “contemporary” in an era of hypermediation and globalization

This book is a global investigation on what the word “contemporary” means and the reasons why the term has imposed itself within the field of representations and practices.

In a hypermediated age where knowledge production is decentralized and horizontal, the experience of lived time has become a concordance of temporalities, and a thought concerning the world is now a thought concerning a plurality of worlds. By way of six guiding threads (exposition, media, controversy, publication, institutionalization, archaeology), this essay describes the transformation of cultural forms and visions of history.


1-What does it mean to be contemporary?

2-What time do we live in?

3-What world(s) do we live in?

4-A story-history of the contemporary.

5-Displaying the Contemporary/The Contemporary on Display

6-Documenting the Contemporary

7-Locations of the Contemporary

8-The Publishing Sphere

9-New Regimes of Publishing

10-Literary Imagination vs Publishing Imagination


12-Exhibition Ideologies

13-Disjunction of Temporalities



January 27: New York, NY

January 29: Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD

January 31: Berkeley University

February 1: CalArts, Valencia, CA


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