As concepts which cross the disciplinary boundaries between the arts and the social sciences, imitation and repetition are frequently connoted in ways dependant on the contexts and time periods in which they occur. The ambivalence of the two terms has proved productive for numerous commentators dating from Plato, and his concern with mimesis, to Judith Butler, who identified the role which the repetition, or continued performance, of cultural norms has in constituting such central aspects of our identity as gender. Thinkers such as Adorno have suggested that ‘a human being only becomes human at all by imitating other human beings,’ while the subversive potential of the way in which repetition and imitation not only reflect but help form aspects of our reality is exploited in postcolonial and feminist theories via strategies of ‘mimicry.’
In the artistic sphere, following the spread of the Romantic idea of the artistic genius, imitation has often been frowned upon as a failure to be ‘original,’ and the lines drawn in intellectual property laws highlight the ethical questions attached to degrees of repetition and imitation in the twentieth century. However, the recirculation and recoding of certain tropes and images which occurs in even the most radical attempts to break with the past, such as those embodied by movements like Dada, suggest that originality cannot be thought outside of its relationship to imitation and repetition. Even in today’s growing digital environment the success of viral memes, news articles, or tweets is judged on the number of times they are shared, that is to say repeated, online.
For the winter issue of FORUM, a peer-reviewed postgraduate journal based at the University of Edinburgh, we are seeking submissions from a range of disciplines relating to the arts or culture that consider the topic of IMITATION AND REPETITION. Submissions may include, but are by no means limited to examinations of the following:
• Imitation or Repetition and Nostalgia
Papers must be between 3,000 and 5,000 words in length, formatted according to MLA guidelines. Please email your paper, a short abstract and your academic CV in separate, clearly labelled .DOC files to email@example.com by Monday 24th September 2012. All eligible articles will be peer reviewed prior to publication. Only one submission per author per issue is permissible. More information on the journal can be found at forumjournal.org.