Pessimism: Special issue of The Comparatist

deadline for submissions: 
April 1, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Zahi Zalloua / The Comparatist
contact email: 

Call for Papers: Special Issue, The Comparatist
Topic: Pessimism
General Editor: Zahi Zalloua (Whitman College)

We welcome contributions that examine the notion of pessimism in comparative studies and literary theory. What does pessimism signify today? Is it a certain discontent with the now discredited rhetoric of progress and hope, a growing dissatisfaction with bland optimism—a belief in the post-ideological, post-political, post-critical, post-racial, and so on? If pessimism is an emphatic refusal to prolong such cruel pragmatism, to judge with suspicion everything around us as complicit with or tainted by power, we might also recall Foucault’s insistence that power doesn’t mean “that everything is bad, but that everything is dangerous.” And more importantly what follows from this recognition is not despair or apathy, but a resolve to confront any configuration of power identified as dangerousor cruel, ideologically dubious—adopting what Foucault suggestively terms “a hyper- and pessimistic activism.”Topics of interest could include:


The post-political

Queer negativity



Happiness and its discontents

Violent resistance


Utopian thought

Radical democracy

Failures and lost causes

Interested contributors should submit a 1-page abstract by April 1, 2018 to Deadline for completed articles will be December 1, 2018.