CFP Autumn 2023 Contemporary Collapse: New Narratives of the End

2022-05-19

Guest editors: Sara Bédard-Goulet (U of Tartu) and Christophe Premat (Stockholm U)

The apocalyptic genre in Western art is rooted in a long tradition, largely influenced by the religious perspective on the end of the world, with works that highlight the struggle to imagine a world without humans, so that they often depict a never-ending end or a post-apocalyptic world (Gervais 2009). With the increasing acknowledgement of the current ecological crisis, the pervasive awareness of its anthropogenic origin and the human inability to react appropriately to stop or reverse its process, the apocalypse and its representations take a new turn, one that questions the human’s relevance on the planet. Contemporary narratives of the end thus need to deal with the perspective of a posthuman world, which has already attracted the attention of scholars for the past decades (Braidotti 2013). Such works offer speculative frames through which to defamiliarize and reorganize the human standpoint on the end, address her/his relationship towards the environment and point out connected realities such as species extinction. Through this reconsidering of the human at the end, contemporary narratives tackle a number of important issues such as the relationship with the other, whether as individuals, families, communities or species. These considerations are examined through aesthetic and narrative choices that embody the various possible endings, presenting survivalist struggles, renewal hopes, singular or collective voices, stories in/of ruins, interspecies care, soft and hard version of the apocalypse, etc.

 

This special issue takes seriously the idea that “global climate change is […] catastrophic for the human imaginary” (Colebrook 2014: 10) and focuses on contemporary narratives that nevertheless seek to imagine the end of the world. We invite essays that explore how these narratives question the significance of the human in a collapsing world, how this resonates with current issues in ecocriticism and the environmental humanities and allows for an articulation of environmental scholarship with the contributions of collapse and apocalypse studies. We encourage contributions that investigate a posthuman aesthetics in contemporary literature, which builds on but mostly shifts Western and anthropocentric conceptions of collapse and diverges from the apocalyptic tradition. In that sense, this special topic will consider the posthumus along with the posthuman, to think about what happens after death, where the posthumus renegotiates the assemblage of chains of life between animals, plants and humans (Derrida 2010: 285). We also welcome contributions that engage with ethical concerns of apocalyptic narratives, as well as with their epistemological implications, where the presence or absence of human and nonhuman traces determines a specific knowledge and way of knowing in a collapsing world. Even though this special issue focuses on the contemporary period, comparative approaches with other periods are welcome, along with comparative studies of different cultural areas.

 

Topics include but are not limited to:

- Multimedia contemporary representations of collapse/extinction

- Posthumanism and contemporary collapse/extinction narratives

- Nonhuman agency and subjectivity in contemporary collapse/extinction narratives

- Assemblages of the human and nonhuman in contemporary collapse/extinction narratives

- Animals, plants, insects in contemporary collapse/extinction narratives

- Fictional and nonfictional contemporary collapse/extinction narratives

- Anthropocene (and its counternarratives, e.g. Chthulucene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, etc.) and contemporary collapse/extinction narratives

- Global and local issues in contemporary collapse/extinction narratives

- Urban and rural issues in contemporary collapse/extinction narratives

- Othering and assimilating processes in contemporary collapse/extinction narratives

- Queer theory, gender studies and contemporary collapse/extinction narratives

- Decolonial approaches to contemporary collapse/extinction narratives

- Traces and contemporary collapse/extinction narratives

- Reception studies of contemporary collapse/extinction narratives

 

We invite contributions in English, German, French and Spanish. Please submit a 300-word abstract and 200-word biographical statement to the editors (sara.bedard-goulet@ut.ee and christophe.premat@su.se) by July 15, 2022.

 

Final essays for the research article section should be between 6,000 and 8,000 words (including abstract, keywords, and bibliography); we encourage both conventional and research-creation modes of research presentation. For the creative writing and art section we also welcome a range of works: fiction, poetry, photography, media art, etc. Please contact the editors if your proposal is for a work that does not easily fit these categories. Completed manuscripts are due January 15, 2023 via the Ecozon@ website, which also provides a style guide.