Call for Papers

A Study of Aesthetics in Art and Representation: Memorialising an Epitaph for the Literary Legacy of Ananta Charan Sukla

Contemporary studies in art in juxtaposition with the politics of representation lack a cogent evaluation of the limitations of the persisting need for epistemic validation for ontological existence. The relationship between art and its contribution toward the endorsement of ontological beliefs is a complex entity that constructs and reconstructs material conceptions of literary history. Such gaps in literary criticism necessitate a theoretical analysis of the aesthetic experience in art and reality, and the scope of aesthetics in its (re)presentation of the reality of art.

This seminar is an effort to commemorate the contributions of Ananta Charan Sukla (1942-2020) toward the realm of literary criticism. His chief works in literary theory engage with a tendentious rereading of the concept of aesthetics for the promotion of novel ideas in the field. To understand and develop his literary output, scholars need to question the positionality of the ‘third-world’ subject in Western discourses to enable the creation of mechanisms of departure from mainstream criticism for the development of an alternate mode of enquiry that concerns itself with the establishment of the subaltern as the Subject. Within this postcolonial framework, we need to examine contemporary theories of literary representation, and study the essence of art and its reality.

Other potential thematic constructs for academic discourse include reconsideration of literary theory and representation in comparative literature. Sukla has extensively worked on distinct modes of representation and re-presentation in fiction. Scholars are, therefore, welcome to integrate the diversity of his research interests to explore the fundamentals of fictionality in literary tradition, particularly its relationship with epistemology and subjectivity. Discourse on fictionality is supremely pertinent to understand his examination of the conceptuality of fiction and its contribution, if any, to the paradigmatic status of the actual world.

To make the seminar an academic ode to a remarkable critic, we invite scholarly papers that engage with the potentialities of representation in contemporary criticism and explore the aesthetics of art. We also welcome papers that introduce the anxieties and enquiries of contemporary criticism in their engagement with literary aesthetics. The objective is to continue discussions inaugurated by Sukla in academia.

Possible topics of discussion include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Mimesis (Imitation) in Greek and Indian Aesthetics
  • Indian Aesthetics in Dramaturgy and Poetics
  • The Indian ‘Subject’ in Western Aesthetics
  • Art, Essence, and Experience in Contemporary Aesthetics
  • Examination of Representation and Deconstruction in Literary Theory
  • Theorisation of Impersonal Art
  • Potentiality of Art in the Indian Milieu
  • Transcultural Possibilities of Classical Indian Aesthetics
  • Strategies of Deconstruction in Comparative Literature
  • Language, Discourses, and Aesthetics
  • Ontology and its Representation in Literature
  • Environmental Aesthetics in Indian and Western Philosophy
  • A Comparative Study of Ananta Sukla, Vishvanatha Kaviraja, and T.S. Eliot

We hope to reflect on ideas that promise the possibility of a cultural (and literary) transformation. Interested scholars are expected to submit original and unpublished papers. The deadline for submissions is 31 January 2021. Email: jclaindia@gmail.com. Submissions (in 4,000-6,000 words) must be properly typed out in MS Word (Times, 12 pt) with a brief author’s bio, abstract and keywords.

SPECIAL ISSUE – Immaterial and Material Discourse

Last date of Submission: 15 February 2021

George Berkeley is considered a great innovator of immaterial discourse. He is best known for his early works on vision like An Essay towards a New Theory of Vision (1709) and metaphysics in A Treatise concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge (1710); and, Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous (1713). Berkeley furthermore asserted that the root of all intellectual perplexity and delusion is abstract ideas. He insisted in his Introduction to the Principles of Human Knowledge that: (a) abstract ideas could not be produced, (b) they were not necessary for the transmission of knowledge, and (c) they were contradictory and unpredictable and therefore incomprehensible. However, Berkeley also defends two metaphysical ideas: namely, idealism and immaterialism. He believed to be is to be perceived.

More recent methodologies of material culture have primarily focused on the use and historical meaning of artifacts populating a story or analyzing the book itself as a commercial product circulated on the market. The study of comparative literature and aesthetics, and more extensively, cultural spaces, is strengthened by recent studies on materiality. For instance, MacArthur Fellow Fred Moten’s discourse on Marxism, dialectical materialism, and Kant’s philosophies of freedom and nature employ an (im)material approach to understanding cosmopolitanism, a priori customs, and being. His disjuncture of material /immaterial conditions is opposed to traditional philosophy, which maintains an uprising in the intangible portion of thinking, evidence, and tendencies as disaffected from the actual domain of practical life and methods. For instance, numerous movements towards subjectivity have explored embodiment and the materiality of thought.

On the other hand, some may define the dynamics of our spatial conception explored through fictitious spaces as immaterial. As a result, the distinction in materiality/immateriality is progressively leading to possible reconfigurations of everyday relations, traces, and the interplay between these three subjects: cosmopolitanism, dialectics, and the climate. How do we understand that the immateriality of literature conveys the vital clash between tangible and immaterial-psychological, mental, and spiritual?

Some topics to consider include:

  • Aesthetics and material/immaterial traditions
  • Poetics and (im)materialism
  • Philosophy and material limitations
  • Speculative/Sci-Fi fiction and metaphysical junctures
  • Cosmopolitanism and the material/immaterial concerns of literature
  • Religion and metaphysical practices
  • Anthropogenic and material activities
  • Dialectics and materialism/immaterialism
  • Migration and (im)material climates
  • Race and materialism/immaterialism
  • Philological material/immaterial affects
  • Linguistics and esoteric circumstances
  • Ritual and (im)material practices

SPECIAL ISSUE – Untranslatability: Theory, Practice, and Politics

Last date of Submission: 31 December 2020

Translation is an activity that marks the differences which surface in cross-cultural encounters. It seeks to negotiate these inevitable differences to help us understand language-cultures that are (not) ours, or comprehend an ‘other’ who is (not) us. The non-negotiable differences then draw us to the titular question, “How does the pursuit of finding an equivalence fare in this process?”. It is in these gaps of translation that we encounter the untranslatable, that which cannot be comprehended or translated. Amidst the ongoing discussions around World Literature, that thrives on translation, untranslatability disrupts the presumed coherence in the very process and makes us aware of the irreducible differences latent within alternate ways of expression.

This Special Issue aims to initiate a discussion on the various tenets of Untranslatability: epistemological, semiotic and aesthetic concerns that shall enable us to understand translation; the process and its philosophy in a nuanced and novel manner.

Untranslatability, which has long been studied as an obstacle or a hurdle in the act of translation; needs to be approached from alternate trajectories that see it as a leeway enabling the indigenous and vernacular discourses to retain the exclusive differences that mark the identity of their language-cultures. Can we study this “right to untranslatability” as a way of resisting the Anglocentric, monolingual way of perceiving World Literature, by asking questions pertaining to what constitutes the world and the region, the global and the local? This raises further questions on how we understand and see the world, which is inescapably tied to the language-culture(s) we are a part of. The problems locating the ‘world’ in “World Literature” and the importance for ‘regions’ and vernacular discourses to mark their presence within the ‘world’ along with discussions around the trajectory and reception of regional and vernacular texts and genres as they travel across the world are welcome. What happens to the untranslated texts and the untranslatable ideas in the niche of World Literature is an aspect this issue seeks to engage with. The problem of a myopic view of World Literature, and the epistemic violence induced in the process of translation which is baked by a social and political power shall be addressed. It shall also focus on the formation of ‘untranslatable’ and initiate a semiotic study of language, its use, the process of meaning-making within a language and the signs and symbols particular to a language-culture. The importance of studying the notion of referentiality in language and its immense contribution in understanding the roots of untranslatability shall be another crucial line of inquiry.

The special issue on Untranslatability invites research papers, articles and book reviews which focus on, but are not limited to the following sub-themes to justify the relevance and scope of the issue:

  • Translation as a Cross-Cultural Transaction
  • Negotiating Differences across Language-cultures
  • Self/Other in Translation
  • Problems in Translation
  • Formation of Untranslatable
  • Politics of Untranslatability
  • Language and Meaning Making
  • World Literature and Regional Literatures
  • Indigenous Narratives
  • Traveling Genres Across Frontiers
  • Epistemological Concerns of World Literature
  • Vernacularization of World Literature
  • ‘World’ in World Literature
  • ‘Region’ within the ‘World’
  • Dialectics of Global and Local
  • Signs, Symbols and Referentiality
  • Aesthetic concerns of Untranslatability
  • Interminability of Translation

SPECIAL ISSUE – Reading Contemporary South Asian Literature: A Postcolonial-Ecocritical Approach

As a school of criticism, the central argument in Postcolonial studies revolves around dismantling the dominant narrative of colonial or imperial history. A colonization process not only captures the native people and culture but their lands too. Proper reading of postcolonial theory would be by understanding the epistemology of colonized environment or vice-versa. Even after decolonization the ideology of imperialism is persistent in native memory and thought. An embeddedness in native psyche not only nurtures imperialism but manifests them with the footprints of colonial masters. In postcolonial countries the discourse of social and economic justice is deeply rooted in ecology. As a consequence, environmental activists from postcolonial nations tend to see any modern policy as a disguised form of neocolonialism or imperial dominance, globalization and modernization.
Since the shocks of imperialism and globalization are most strongly felt in the third world countries, most of them being former colonies, this issue intends to explore texts by South Asian writers examining how these writers and their characters cope with the destruction of the environment. The special issue plans to seek out the writings of epistemological understanding of our environment. Moreover, the issue would also like to see a critical entanglement of race, class, gender, culture, modernization, globalization, nation and trans-nation, etc. The proposed issue, moreover, will attempt to show how different genres of literature ranging from fiction to non-fiction can bring out inimitable insights into varied understanding of postcolonial and ecocritical studies.

The sub-themes are:
1. Ecological imperialism
2. The Discourse of Deforestation in Contemporary South Asian Literature
3. Postcolonial Landscapes: Animals and Humans in Postcolonial Narratives
4. Gardens of Resistance in Postcolonial texts
5. Women and Environment in South Asian Ecotexts

SPECIAL ISSUE – Indian Writing in English

Last Date of Submission: 30 November 2020

The body of work called “Indian Writing in English” which had its inception under the sign of colonialism has proved to be both exciting and powerful down the years. Its phenomenal proliferation in terms of production and that too of high artistic excellence has earned it a distinct identity of its own. However, for this, it had to traverse varied intellectual terrains and phases of development and decolonization. What made it possible was indeed the spectacular rise of a whole line of talented and illustrious writers who have made original use of the English language and artistic forms, suiting their own cultural needs. They have dominated the literary scene nationally and internationally, winning the most coveted awards and recognition. They have proved to be the producers of a rich postcolonial discursivity.

The English language, which was once introduced in India by the British to create a class of interpreters for administrative purposes, has been ultimately appropriated by the so-called “natives”, making it their own, a phenomenon that points out the postcolonial need of reconfiguring and reorienting a colonial legacy.  While a number of eminent writers have argued in favour of giving up writing in English calling it a part of the colonial legacy which as they claim overshadowed myriads of regional Indian languages and literatures produced in the country, others, however, point out the historical need of “writing back to the centre”. Again, while some claimed that Indian Writing in English came from the privileged English-speaking elite, it is also true that this very language has given representation to the “Other” of the society who remained subjugated and inarticulate under hierarchies of caste, class, culture, gender, race, ethnicity, centre, margin, global, local, nation, trans-nation, and so on. In addressing such issues, Indian Writing in English has proved to be dynamic, radical, subversive, and pan-Indian in respect of representation and reception. In this context it is important to note that a lot of Bhasha literatures is now getting translated into English.

This Special Issue on Indian Writing in English hopes to address these varied and complex issues and aspects of Indian Writing in English and accordingly calls upon the prospective contributors to shed new light on the issues involved in terms of fresh ideas, new approaches and required scholarship. 

The sub-themes as mentioned below are only suggestive of the area and are in no way restrictive.  Articles with other relevant themes are also welcome:

  • Historical and political contexts
  • Nation, nationalism and postnationalism
  • Postcolonial India: its problems and prospects
  • Partition and its trauma
  • Migrancy and diaspora
  • Secularism and multiculturalism
  • Indian feminism and women empowerment
  • Caste and gender
  • Dalit literature
  • Dalit Feminism
  • Ethnicity
  • Globalization: Its impact on culture and politics
  • Industrialization and ecology
  • Newer themes in poetry
  • Theatre
  • Literature of the marginalized
  • Indian Writing in English and the global market

P.S. Those who do not receive any acceptance intimation within two months of the last date of submission can withdraw their papers.

SPECIAL ISSUE – The Philosophy of Motion Pictures: New Trajectories 

The philosophy of motion pictures is today one of the leading branches of aesthetics. Several central debates, such as the ones on medium essentialism, on the ability of film to do philosophy, on the ethics of film, and on the distinction between fiction and nonfiction, while still evolving, are being matched by new literature on topics such as the emotional and cognitive resonance of film, contemporary auteurs, criticism, animation, and the relation between film, TV series and video games, among others. This issue of JCLA invites papers to explore traditions within the philosophy of motion pictures, its long-standing debates, but also, and, especially, its future trajectories, with special emphasis on these in particular:

  • The relation between film criticism and the philosophy of motion pictures
  • Continental and analytic approaches
  • Changes in production, streaming platforms, and the rise of TV series
  • Motion Pictures and Videogames
  • Animation
  • Costumes and set design
  • Sound and film
  • Neurocognitive approaches to the moving image
  • World cinema
  • The contemporary auteur