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Diacritics: A Review of Contemporary Criticism was founded in 1971 by the Department of Romance Studies, under the editorship of David I. Grossvogel. Published since 1977, the journal maintains editorial offices in the Department of Romance Studies at Cornell. Members of its editorial board are Cornell faculty and graduate students who are nominated and elected by the board.
Diacritics was one of the first academic journals to bring continental theory to the US. In the 1970s, it published translations of the work of Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Hélène Cixous, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, Jean-Luc Nancy, and Umberto Eco, and articles by Paul de Man, Gayatri Spivak, Edward Said, Fredric Jameson, and Barbara Johnson. Historically its preferred mode has been the review article that analyzes in detail the theoretical arguments and assumptions of the most significant books in the humanities and social sciences. It periodically publishes special issues on topics or on thinkers of great current interest. In recent years, Diacritics has published important work in gender studies, cultural studies, queer theory, political theory, literary theory, and psychoanalysis, including articles by Judith Butler, Roberto Esposito, Louis Althusser, Etienne Balibar, Jacques Rancière, and Giorgio Agamben. The redesigned journal (beginning with volume 40) has won awards from the AAUP Book, Jacket, and Journal Show (2014) and the Council of Editors of Learned Journals (CELJ, 2014).