How Slavoj Became Žižek: The Digital Making of a Public Intellectual

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Abstract

Slovenian philosopher bad boy Slavoj Žižek is one of the most famous intellectuals of our time, publishing at a breakneck speed and lecturing around the world. With his unmistakable speaking style and set of mannerisms that have made him ripe material for internet humor and meme culture, he is recognizable to a wide spectrum of fans and detractors. But how did an intellectual from a remote Eastern European country come to such popular notoriety? In How Slavoj Became Žižek, sociologist Eliran Bar-El plumbs the emergence, popularization, and development of this phenomenon called “Žižek.”

Beginning with Žižek’s early years as a thinker and political figure in Slovenian civil society, Bar-El traces Žižek’s rise from Marxist philosopher to a political candidate to eventual intellectual celebrity as Žižek perfects his unique performative style and a rhetorical arsenal of “Hegelacanese.” Following 9/11, Žižek’s career as a global op-ed writer and TV commentator married his rhetoric with global events such as the War on Terror, the financial crisis of 2008, and the Arab Spring of 2011. Yet, at the same time, this mainstream popularity, as well as a series of politically incorrect views, almost entirely estranged the Slovenian from the normal workings of academia. Ultimately, this account shows how Žižek harnessed the power of the digital era in his own self-fashioning as a public intellectual.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationChicago
PublisherUniversity of Chicago Press
Number of pages256
ISBN (Electronic)9780226823515
ISBN (Print)9780226823522, 9780226823508
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

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