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Introduction

Introduction TAYLOR SCHEY and JAN MIESZKOWSKI WASH IN NEWS about legislative impasses, labor impasses, and the Brexit A impasse, we are not surprised to find Emily Apter opening her 2018 Unexcep- tional Politics: On Obstruction, Impasse, and the Impolitic with the claim that “impasse is perhaps the new watchword for the contemporary state of politics” (16). In her incisive study of non-classical political terms and tactics, Apter explores a range of different notions of obstruction and gridlock, yet inthe course of the discussion, her watchword makes strikingly few appearances and ultimately does not even warrant a place in the index. While impasse is clearly one of her guiding concerns, Apter proceeds as if we all share a commonunderstanding of its reach and nuance. Survey- ing recent theoretical discussions in the humanities, wefind something similar. The very familiarity of the term impasse seems to ensure that it is rarely treated as a con- cept requiring precise exposition. Be it deconstruction’s well-known preoccupation with undecidability and aporia or the role that deadlocks and dead ends play in psy- choanalysis, Marxism, and environmental studies, impasse is routinely mentioned without any formal account of what it meansto cometo, be at, or break throughone. In http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Comparative Literature Duke University Press

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Copyright
Copyright © 2020 by University of Oregon
ISSN
0010-4124
eISSN
1945-8517
DOI
10.1215/00104124-8127405
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

TAYLOR SCHEY and JAN MIESZKOWSKI WASH IN NEWS about legislative impasses, labor impasses, and the Brexit A impasse, we are not surprised to find Emily Apter opening her 2018 Unexcep- tional Politics: On Obstruction, Impasse, and the Impolitic with the claim that “impasse is perhaps the new watchword for the contemporary state of politics” (16). In her incisive study of non-classical political terms and tactics, Apter explores a range of different notions of obstruction and gridlock, yet inthe course of the discussion, her watchword makes strikingly few appearances and ultimately does not even warrant a place in the index. While impasse is clearly one of her guiding concerns, Apter proceeds as if we all share a commonunderstanding of its reach and nuance. Survey- ing recent theoretical discussions in the humanities, wefind something similar. The very familiarity of the term impasse seems to ensure that it is rarely treated as a con- cept requiring precise exposition. Be it deconstruction’s well-known preoccupation with undecidability and aporia or the role that deadlocks and dead ends play in psy- choanalysis, Marxism, and environmental studies, impasse is routinely mentioned without any formal account of what it meansto cometo, be at, or break throughone. In

Journal

Comparative LiteratureDuke University Press

Published: Jun 1, 2020

References