JMMLA Spring 2018 Special Issue: Metonymy, Poetics, Performance

deadline for submissions: 
December 15, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association
contact email: 

This special issue has a cluster of three terms at its center: metonymy, poetics, and performance. These three terms have to do with conventional structures and what it means to live in them. Metonymy, a trope in which common association lets one thing stand in for another, mobilizes conventional relations. Poetics, the theory of how a text’s elements work together, studies the structures through which artistic effects exist. Performance involves living out relations within structures like genre, medium, and circumstance. Together, these terms allow us to think through the metonymical relations among art, artist, and context.

Living in relation to models for or representations of the world involves bearing out ideas with our actions. This process benefits from the study of the always shifting conventions of realism and un-realism, conventions that are interesting at the moment in relation to the popularity of the seemingly unlike genres of documentary theatre, immersive theatre, superhero movies, true crime podcast, and apocalyptic fiction. With models for good relationship and ethical structures in hand, like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s recommendations, how do communities actualize such models well? The nature of the relationships we live out in national and global structures demand study, particularly in a time of refugee crises. Likewise, it is valuable to investigate ideas of public performance, celebrity, sincerity, and disrupted political norms in a time of alternative facts. Thinking about how individuals author their public identities also raises questions, pertinent to recent scandals of appropriation, about systems of address, evaluation, and life writing. This call for papers casts a wide net for studies of conventional relationships and what we can do with them.

Submissions of around 8000 words are due December 15, 2017, to guest editor Dr Dale Tracy at, should follow MLA guidelines, and may be interested in any of (but are not limited to) the following topics. Please send queries to

-role models, celebrities, personas

-actualizing models

-interview as genre


-performance as enacting or replicating

-lyric I, poets, readers

-dramatic poetry

-life writing or life-telling (Warren Cariou’s term) and performances of the self

-conventions of realism (in theatre, film, writing, everyday life)

-conventions and genre or medium



-address and audience

-signature, voice, gesture

-abstraction or figuration

-knowledge mobilization and reception

-cultural industries and systems of production and distribution

-the academy

-disruptions to the possible by the weird, the unreal, or the unbelievable

-disruptions to the status quo by anger or disobedience

-social structures and excessiveness (emotional, formal, informational)

-upholding the status quo with decorum, civility, good manners

-structures and effects of jokes, riddles, or codes

-spaces of relation: between, among, with

-theories of metonymy (i.e., Hugh Bredin on metonymy as conventional)