Calls for Papers

Upcoming Special Issue

Anglophone Literature, Its Critics, and the Left  

Guest Editor: Peter Kalliney, University of Kentucky
Deadline for Submissions: 1 July 2020

The relationship between the political left, global literature in English, and its criticism has been fractious throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In “Writers and Leviathan,” George Orwell argues that writers should never lend their talents to political causes. A few years later, Doris Lessing writes in “The Small Personal Voice” that writers of fiction must cultivate an inner aesthetic conscience that recognizes how truth always seem to crisscross ideological lines. A few decades on, Salman Rushdie, who viciously satirized Margaret Thatcher in The Satanic Verses, revised his stance, quipping, “I think better of the Tories for this trivial reason: They saved my life.” Writers with progressive politics in one context are prone to complication, equivocation, retraction, and revision as circumstances change.

Critics, like writers of fiction, are rarely in agreement about how literary criticism might serve the left. The questions have changed over time as feminist and socialist approaches to writing have confronted coalitional politics of the new social movements: anticolonialism, antinuclearism, antiracism, environmentalism, LBGTQ concerns, and animal rights gradually became mainstream progressive causes. In literary studies, many of the most influential methodological approaches of the second half of the twentieth century—cultural studies, feminism, queer studies, psychoanalysis, structuralism and especially poststructuralism, New Historicism, several variants of Marxism, and postcolonialism—all had significant investments in what might be conceived, broadly, as a politics of the left.

The tenor of these critical debates has shifted in the last two decades or so. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick was among the first to call for change by asking for “reparative” against “paranoid” reading. In Empire, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri argue that global capitalism has outflanked progressive strategies of representation. A few years later, Bruno Latour also noted this shift in a somewhat different register in “Why Has Critique Run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern,” in which he wonders if critiques of Enlightenment principles of scientific reason make sense now. Variants of these positions are now fairly widespread among progressive critics of literature. Amanda Anderson, Lauren Berlant, Rita Felski, Bruce Robbins, and Sharon Marcus and Stephen Best are among the prominent voices who argue that progressive literary critics have been slow to refashion their methods to meet the challenges of a new century. If liberalism is best when it is bleak, if optimism survives because it is cruel, or if reading is most nimble when it works along the seams of textual surfaces instead of picking them apart, then what is there to be rescued from the scrapheap of critical methods once associated with the left?

This special issue asks contributors to consider the relationship among texts, critics, and progressive politics. Does it make sense any longer to ask if anglophone writers are allied with, neutral toward, or skeptical of a politics of the left, as I do earlier in this call for papers? What does the history of twentieth-century fiction teach us about the development of literature at the present time? Are there political problems that fiction understands particularly well or others that it is prone to misrepresent? How do texts represent newer political debates, such as environmental activism and the rights of migrants, alongside more established causes, such as class redress, gender parity, and racial equity? Should progressive critics read fiction with or against the grain?

Essays should be 7,000-9,000 words, including all quotations and bibliographic references, and should follow the MLA Handbook (8th edition) for internal citation and Works Cited. Please submit your essay via the online submission form at the following web address:

Queries should be directed to Peter Kalliney (

Upcoming Special Issue

Peripheral Literatures and the History of Capitalism

Guest Editors: Ericka Beckman, Oded Nir, and Emilio Sauri

Deadline for Submissions: 1 August 2020

This special issue asks how peripheral literatures understand on a global scale the history of capitalism from the late nineteenth century to the present. While classic Marxist theories of literature have long posited a relationship between modern aesthetic forms and the history of capitalism, their sites of inquiry remain for the most part bound to the heartlands of capital accumulation in Europe and North America. Informed by recent discussions of world literature, the planetary turn, peripheral realisms, and peripheral modernisms, this issue asks after the specific ways in which literature expresses moments of transition on the peripheries and semi-peripheries of the capitalist world-system. We are interested in how literature engages with the specific material conditions that have characterized peripheral and semi-peripheral societies in specific moments—including but not limited to the history of chattel slavery and other forms of coerced labor, the predominance of agrarian over industrial modes of capital accumulation, and the susceptibility of peripheral societies to global financial flows. Literature’s engagement with the unique conditions of the periphery should not be seen as occurring at a remove from the development of the world-system as a whole; rather, we are interested in exploring the specific ways peripheral literatures allow us to grasp global economic transformations of which they are a necessary part. To read authors such as Rabindranath Tagore, Abdelrahman Munif, Roberto Bolaño, Toni Morrison, Clarice Lispector, and James Joyce together is to see that these dynamics are not the same always and everywhere, and it is precisely for this reason that we focus on the ways peripheral and semi-peripheral texts, in terms of both their specific contents and forms, create new knowledge about the world-system itself.

Ongoing critical engagement with topics such as extractive capitalism, financialization, and neoliberal austerity mark a deep concern with the relationship between literature and the economic. And yet most contemporary approaches remain committed to thinking primarily about the subjective dimension of capitalist transformations. How then might peripheral literatures make visible the realities of global capitalism, allowing us to see in new ways a system that continues to rest on the division of the planet into economic centers, peripheries, and semi-peripheries? What does the history of capitalism look like when viewed from the periphery? And what might literary history look like when viewed from the same vantage point?

Essays should be 7,000-9,000 words, including all quotations and bibliographic references, and should follow the MLA Handbook (8th edition) for internal citation and Works Cited. Please submit your essay via the online submission form at the following web address:

Queries should be directed to Ericka Beckman (, Oded Nir (, and Emilio Sauri (

Upcoming Special Issue

Cognitive Modernisms

Guest Editor: Paul B. Armstrong, Brown University

Deadline for Submissions: 8 January 2021

Modernism has long been associated with an interest in consciousness, psychology, and the inner life, but critics have also long disagreed about how to understand this interest and what to make of it.  The recent proliferation of cognitive approaches to reading and literature has renewed interest in questions concerning the modernist preoccupation with consciousness but has spawned new controversies about how to address them. 

David Lodge argues that literary representations of cognitive life offer knowledge about what it is like to be conscious that is complementary to what the sciences can disclose, and Terence Cave describes literary history as a “cognitive archive” testifying to the many ways in which consciousness has been experienced and understood. Modernist experiments with styles for representing consciousness would seem to offer a rich trove of materials for exploring various dimensions of cognitive life of interest to the contemporary sciences of mind.  Rejecting a pluralist approach, however, David Herman claims that modernist writers are united with contemporary cognitive science in rejecting a Cartesian splitting of mind and body, and he argues that this literary and scientific consensus about the embodiment of consciousness calls into question the very notion of a modernist “inward turn.”

How should we understand the variety of cognitive modernisms?  Do writers as different as Conrad, Joyce, Woolf, Lawrence, Barnes, Faulkner, Beckett, and Morrison agree on what consciousness is like and how to represent it?  Are the many styles in the modernist archive complementary representations of universal aspects of cognitive life that converge with the findings of science?  Or are they evidence of the historical and cultural plasticity of consciousness and the aesthetic variability of the modes of rendering that have sought to capture its diverse, changeable characteristics?  Should the styles of modernist representation be understood as manifestations of the peculiarities of cognitive life in the long twentieth century, for example, that are better studied historically rather than phenomenologically, as Jonathan Crary has done in his analyses of the social construction of vision and perception? 

This special issue on “Cognitive Modernisms” invites contributions that analyze what modernist texts reveal about consciousness, what different cognitive approaches reveal about modernism, or what the disputes about how to interpret modernist representations of consciousness reveal about the methodological and theoretical issues at stake in studies of modernism and cognition.  Essays are welcome that employ any of the many different approaches that characterize cognitive literary studies–for example:  4e cognition, experiential phenomenology, post-classical narratology, affect theory, disability studies, relevance theory, Bayesian predictive processing, kinematic approaches, and experimental studies.  Contributions are also encouraged that question the cognitive turn from historical, cultural, and political perspectives or from positions beyond the human (animal studies, the new materialism, the nonhuman, the Anthropocene, etc.).

Essays should be 7,000-9,000 words, including all quotations and bibliographic references, and should follow the MLA Handbook (8th edition) for internal citation and Works Cited.  Please submit your essay via the online submission form at the following web address:

Queries should be directed to Paul Armstrong (