DECADENCE [Call for Papers/Reviews]

deadline for submissions: 
February 1, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
University College London, Dept of English [Moveable Type, Vol. 11 (Summer 2019)]

Montesquieu's assertion that the fall of the Roman Empire could be attributed to a decline in morality and deviation from Classical ideals redefined the term “décadence.” From a neutral term for “decline,” decadence transformed into a laden pejorative signifying perversity and decay, as well as a warning against the dangers of excess and the pursuit of pleasure. Perceived as a disruptive force, dangerous to social order and bourgeois normativity, the threat of decadence is still invoked in modern political rhetoric to stoke anxieties over shifts in traditional values and social mores, as well as the looming threat of an irretrievable loss of geopolitical power.

Yet in spite of (or, more likely, because of) the term's negative connotations, decadence itself has been embraced by writers, artists and “othered” individuals as modes of expression, rebellion against and liberation from social strictures. Unlike the Romantic sublime, wherein the material self is abandoned in an upward sweep of simultaneous ecstasy and terror, the decadent sublime embraces the downward plunge into materiality. It is this inverse (dark) sublime that theorists such as Georges Bataille, Maurice Blanchot and Michel Foucault termed expérience limite, or limit-experience, a driving, luxurious expenditure of energy that pushes against boundaries of selfhood and existence. From the Marquis de Sade's social satires to the films of John Waters, this decadent limit-experience has proven an effective artistic device for variety of purposes. It has been employed across media to a variety of effects, such as illustrating the ramifications of despotic monarchs and fascism (e.g. Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi, Waters' Desperate Living; Pier Pasolini's Salò), proposing an erotically-infused political system (e.g. Sade's libertine republicanism), and rejecting artistic confines with the phrase “l'art pour l'art” (the 19thC Decadents' rebuff to mandated moral utility in art). In each of these cases, decadence is used as a subversive mode that deconstructs and challenges both audience sensibilities and popular standards of taste. Volume 11 of UCL English Department's journal, Moveable Type, seeks to explore this intersection of excess, subversion and deconstruction through different iterations of decadence across a variety of disciplines, media and time periods.

Moveable Type is an interdisciplinary, double-blind, peer-reviewed journal, and encourages responses from across the humanities, arts and social sciences on the theme of decadence, broadly interpreted. In addition, we will consider artistic responses such as poetry, flash-fiction and short stories. Some potential topics may include, but are not limited to the following categories and author/text/genre examples:

*Critical theory (e.g. limit-experience; the accursed share)

*Decadence and the sublime

*Poète maudit (e.g. Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, Antonin Artaud)

*Beauty and corruption (e.g. Baudelaire's Fleurs du Mal; Oscar Wilde's Salome)

*Camp aesthetics

*Music, drama and spectacle (e.g. Baroque opera)

*Decadence on film (e.g. Peter Greenaway; Tinto Brass; Marco Ferreri)

*Transgressive art (e.g. exploitation film; body horror)

*Eroticism and taboo (e.g. Jess Franco; Wladimir Borowczyk)

*Libertinism (e.g. Marquis de Sade; Charlotte Dacre)

*Decadence, society and politics (e.g. Poshlost'; fascism)

*Carnivalesque and grotesque (e.g. Bakhtin; Rabelais)

*Excess and consumption (e.g. gourmands; cannibals)

*Death and decay

*The Gothic

*Filth (e.g. John Waters; Alfred Jarry)

*Violence as spectacle

*Psychodynamics of opposition (e.g. fascination and repulsion; horror and ecstasy)

Please send submissions to by the 1st February 2019 (doc/docx files only), with a short abstract and bio in the main body. Academic articles are limited to 3,000-5,000 words and should subscribe to MHRA referencing guidelines. Authors are limited to only one submission. We ask that creative responses do not exceed 5,000 words, but can be an interlinked series of poems or prose pieces. All academic submissions will be double-blind peer reviewed, and feedback will be provided for all submissions.

In case of any queries, please contact Sarah-Jean Zubair at

Call for Reviews [DEADLINE EXTENDED]

We are also accepting pitches for reviews of academic works relevant to the theme of decadence, broadly interpreted. Upon the acceptance of a pitch, writers will submit 700 to 1,000 word pieces that critically analyze a recent monograph or edition. Potential books could include:

*Critical editions of authors and texts

*Theoretical works that focus on new or developing critical methodologies

*Novels, poetry collections or dramatic texts

*Secondary material on authors that are relevant to the theme of decadence.

Reviews of recent digital resources are also desired. Books for consideration must be published since 2016. If this is of interest to you, please send pitches to with the full bibliographical information and a few sentences explaining why you want to review the book by the 31st December 2018. We do not limit pitches to academic texts only, and welcome pitches for reviews of all genres and media.