What Is An Event? by Robin Wagner-PacificiWhat Is An Event? by Robin Wagner-Pacifici

What Is An Event?

byRobin Wagner-Pacifici

Paperback | March 24, 2017

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 204 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


We live in a world of breaking news, where at almost any moment our everyday routine can be interrupted by a faraway event. Events are central to the way that individuals and societies experience life. Even life’s inevitable moments—birth, death, love, and war—are almost always a surprise. Inspired by the cataclysmic events of September 11, Robin Wagner-Pacifici presents here a tour de force, an analysis of how events erupt and take off from the ground of ongoing, everyday life, and how they then move across time and landscape.

What Is an Event? ranges across several disciplines, systematically analyzing the ways that events emerge, take shape, gain momentum, flow, and even get bogged down. As an exploration of how events are constructed out of ruptures, it provides a mechanism for understanding eventful forms and flows, from the micro-level of individual life events to the macro-level of historical revolutions, contemporary terrorist attacks, and financial crises. Wagner-Pacifici takes a close look at a number of cases, both real and imagined, through the reports, personal narratives, paintings, iconic images, political posters, sculptures, and novels they generate and through which they live on. What is ultimately at stake for individuals and societies in events, Wagner-Pacifici argues, are identities, loyalties, social relationships, and our very experiences of time and space. What Is an Event? provides a way for us all—as social and political beings living through events, and as analysts reflecting upon them—to better understand what is at stake in the formations and flows of the events that mark and shape our lives.
Robin Wagner-Pacifici is the University in Exile Professor of Sociology at the New School for Social Research. She is the author of a number of books, most recently The Art of Surrender: Decomposing Sovereignty at Conflict’s End, also published by the University of Chicago Press.
Title:What Is An Event?Format:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.8 inPublished:March 24, 2017Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022643978X

ISBN - 13:9780226439785

Look for similar items by category:


Table of Contents


Introduction 1
Why a Book about Events?
Advances and Limitations of Existing Scholarship
Form and Flow

1 • Political Semiosis
Inside or Outside
Deconstructing Political Semiosis

2 • Ground
L’Origine du Monde: Birth
Et in Arcadia Ego: Death
Ground as Surface, Point of Contact, Scene of Action
Underground and Overground

3 • Rupture
Suspended Animation
Time and Space in Rupture
Event and Series: The Financial Crisis of 2008
“The Trigger Gave”

4 • Resonating Forms
Violence and Event Formation
The French Revolution
Jacques- Louis David: Eventful Moments and the Pause

5 • Fragmenting Forms
The Representational Uncertainty of the Paris Commune
Styles and Genres of the Paris Commune
Formal Fault Lines of Il Quarto Stato

6 • Sedimentation and Drift
Sedimentation and the Official Report
Insiders and Outsiders
Event Spaces
9/11 in Lower Manhattan



Editorial Reviews

“Once again, Wagner-Pacifici brings together art, philosophy, and sociology in probing, sophisticated, and deeply illuminating sophisticated ways. Her new social theory sheds new light on empirical events that have remained mysterious even as they continue to transform our social world in fateful ways.”