In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Introduction
  • Laurent Dubreuil and Diane Berrett Brown

Yes, this is the fortieth volume of diacritics. And yes, this is something to celebrate. We naturally thought of organizing a conference about the key role our journal has played in academia over the last four decades. We also considered the possibility of editing an anthology of texts with some additional comments and responses. But we ultimately opted for another kind of (double) homage.

We are well aware of our archival becoming, and we believe in the present effects of the past. This is why we recently transferred the archives of diacritics to the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections at Cornell University Library and why we have brought back the 1971 logotype of the journal. This is why we want to include “new” material from yesteryear (such as the previously unpublished essay by Paul de Man in this issue) and why we will continue to reflect on the specificities of diacritics.

At the same time, we want our “now” to be at least as meaningful tomorrow as it is today. In the coming months and years, we will open new paths of inquiry, especially with our two mini-series of thematic issues (“More than Global” and “Thinking with the Sciences”). We will introduce authors who have not yet been translated into English, along with authors who work on other continents and belong to other traditions of thought. The publication of these texts, both on paper and as digital files, will benefit from a complete redesign—the innovative work of Boston-based designer Rick Rawlins—that we are inaugurating with the current issue.

Over the years, the production schedule of the journal has waned at times, making the publication year on the cover progressively out of sync with the calendar year. Our publisher, Johns Hopkins University Press, has approved an adjustment to allow us to catch up: diacritics will thus omit publication years 2010 and 2011 and move from volume 39 (2009) to volume 40 (2012).

Finally, we wish to thank David Maisel for the photographs from History’s Shadow that appear on the cover and throughout this issue. These photographed x-rays of art objects—revealing at once the inside and outside of works of art, making visible traces of construction, restoration, and the imprint of time—articulate our sense that the archive is as much a part of our future as a means of preserving a layered past.