European Association for Studies of Literature, Culture and the Environment

Call for Contributions: Writing Creaturely Lives

Call for Contributions:
Writing Creaturely Lives: Literature, Culture, History
We invite proposals for contributions to be included in a projected volume on the notion of “the creaturely” as a way of conceptualizing forms and modes of life within, between, across or beyond species that allow us to challenge or problematize clear-cut notions of the human and the animal (including an idea of human-animal relations as an interaction between two or more neatly separated and separable entities). The creaturely, as we understand it, can refer both to conceptions, experiences or narratives of human animality as well as the manifold and often ambivalent relations between the human and the nonhuman ranging from the hegemonic to the heterotopian or the transgressive. In addition, focusing on the creaturely in human and animal lives might allow us to better conceptualize the tightly interwoven structure of the social, the cultural and the biological. The creaturely, then, does not necessarily refer to the actual creature as such nor to a state or condition of creatureliness, but can also be understood in terms of a relation, a mode, a becoming. Instead of attempting anything close to a definition, however, we use the notions creature and creaturely in a strategically vague sense in order to encourage a broad and open approach to the topic. This means that the book's aim is not so much to simply argue for a new perspective (or even yet another turn), but rather to critically explore the possibilities, promises and pitfalls of thinking, writing and reading in terms of the creaturely.
If we concede that approaching and coming to terms with the creaturely still necessitates a reliance on narratives of some kind, we also wish to encourage some critical thoughts on what the term “narrative” might mean, what it contains – both in the sense of consisting of, comprising, embracing and regulating, controlling, taming –, where its potentials as well as its boundaries and limitations lie. For example, and more specifically, textual analyses might ask if and how various kinds of narratives allow us to find traces of the human, the animal, the creaturely beyond the merely representational and the culturally constructed. Can there ever be something other- or more-than-human in human narratives? Are narratives always already necessarily human? Do we need different or new kinds of narratives or modes of reading (for example, as Anat Pick argues, in the sense of a “creaturely poetics”)?
While this volume will have a literary studies focus, the idea of “literature” underpinning this volume is a broad and inclusive one (hence our focus on the term “narrative”) and not limited to fictional texts in a narrow sense. Rather, we are interested in the various ways in which discourse materializes itself as text and narrative and understand the dividing line between factuality and fiction as porous
and permeable. We also encourage and seek to include a number of contributions from related disciplines such as cultural studies, philosophy or history that discuss the creaturely on a conceptual, theoretical and philosophical level or its specific figurations and manifestations in literature, culture and history.
In addition to those aspects already mentioned above, the following are some of the many possible questions and problems that may be addressed in the contributions to this volume:
• What are the boundaries of the creaturely and should we draw such boundaries after all?
• How can this concept be employed to challenge the Cartesian-humanist boundary between human and nonhuman worlds and the workings of what Giorgio Agamben has termed the “anthropological machine”? Do such challenges necessarily imply the agency of (human) subjects and intentional forms of resistance, or can they manifest themselves below the threshold of consciousness and rationality on the levels of corporeal practice and inter- or “trans-corporeality” (Stacy Alaimo)?
• Should we think of the creaturely in terms of subjectivity and intersubjective relations or should we, on the contrary, employ this concept in order to think beyond or even “unthink” the subject?
• What role does the creaturely play in historical or contemporary discourses and how is it produced, regulated, maintained and/or disavowed in such discourses?
• How are creaturely lives experienced within, against or beyond normative and hegemonic frameworks and can we employ this notion to articulate critiques of such frameworks and/or conceptualize different modes of human and animal life and its manifold intersections?
• How is the creaturely in its material, discursive and/or imaginary forms related to questions of, for instance, gender, sexuality, race, dis/ability or species?
• Do we need an ethics, politics, epistemology and/or ontology of creaturely life in the Anthropocene and in order to better address the challenges of ecological crisis, biodiversity loss and climate change?
• To what extent and in what ways is creaturely life an object of modern biopolitics, biotechnology and/or biomedicine?
Can thinking in terms of the creaturely be of relevance for and contribute to human and animal rights debates?
• What is the specific literary response or contribution to the questions and quandaries outlined above? What does “writing” (and reading) creaturely lives entail?
We are looking for proposals on any of the topics mentioned above or any other related topics. Please send an abstract of no more than 500-600 words outlining your intended contribution to the email addresses below by
January 15th, 2015
You will be informed if your proposal has been accepted by mid February 2015 latest. Finished papers are due September 15th, 2015. The publication is planned for late 2015/early 2016.
We are looking forward to reading your proposals!
Roman Bartosch ([email protected])
Dominik Ohrem ([email protected])