Notes: Byron Hawk, “Stitching Together Events: Of Joints, Folds, and Assemblages”

Hawk, Byron. (2013). Stitching together events: Of joints, folds, and assemblages. In Theorizing histories of rhetoric. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, p. 106-127.


Hawk models an approach to historiography that tends to the emergent to answer to some of the theoretical issues that arise from traditional conceptions of revisionist historiographies by turning to jazz improvisation as a way to discuss the role of networks.

Keywords: networks, historiography, histories of rhetoric, archives, methodology


“[H]istoriography requires not mourning, memory, or nostalgia but continual production, which is the only thing that can outpace dominant claims to truth by names and narratives” (p. 112).

“A networked historiography based on complexity and improvisation involves a break with the simple or casual chains of narration and story” (p. 124).


It appears I drew on a connection too early! In my previous post (see Enoch), I worked through connections I saw to Enoch’s work and Clary-Lemon‘s, who is asking for networked-material approaches.

I am admittedly still trying to think through a complexity-theory, post-human, OOO, actor-network historiography. A distributed history answers to many of the issues Hawk outlines at the top of 110, but I’m still thinking about the central premise of generating “as many persuasive models as can possibly be fashioned” (p. 110). There is room to allow for the emergent, but I’m not sure I can put my finger on my reticence.

Alexander and Rhodes (2015) explore networks and ANT in their Techne: Queer Meditations on Writing the Self. They write

[A]ctor-network theory seems to presume a sort of intentional innocence among its nodes and has been “forcibly reminded of its non-innocence by Donna Haraway in her own much more explicitly political material semiotics. . . . We make realities, she said. They only question is: what kind of difference do we want to make?” (Law 154). We might add to that question another: How do we recognize in these webs possibilities for making difference, for making a difference? And how do we do so purposefully? (intro3b1).

The advance something more phenomenological than the flat ontological. On the Deluezean rhizome that underscores many of the texts Hawk draws from, they write:

The rhizome works flatly through lines rather than static point, but rootstock might dare ask Deleuze’s “useless questions,” for that reaching is part of an identity. Longing. This longing, too, is a tangled line. Indeed, we might say that a feminist rhizomatic or rootstock most resembles Rosi Braidotti’s nomadic subject, a vision of subjectivity that embraces simultaneity and multiple, sometimes contradictory layers of identity (rhizome4).

I’m wondering what a feminist rootstock, or a queer phenomenological turn in the network, would ask of “as many persuasive models as can possibly be fashioned“. Surely, they wouldn’t lose the complexity of systems that seems to be the central idea, but perhaps ask an extra step toward towardness, maybe? Not the telos that we’re avoiding here, but eros. 

Desire and becoming: history as a network of erotics. Certainly Hawks use of Cohen to discuss the finding of other nodes and creating new openings feeds into the continual generation he discusses (p. 121) is extremely productive and useful to think about.


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