On the Edge: Essays on the Representations and Images of Frontiers and Borders in Literature

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
K. Nowak-McNeice, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain
contact email: 

We are looking for contributors to our edited volume, tentatively titled On the Edge: Essays on the Representations and Images of Frontiers and Borders in Literature. We would like to invite submissions considering the keywords of “frontier” and “border” in a literary context, and we are particularly interested in proposals that would give a new, unexpected meaning to these words. The frontier emerged as an important critical concept for an understanding of American history over a hundred years ago, and its status has changed from a celebrated catchphrase to explain away the perplexities of American identity, through an F-word not tolerated in the progressive circles, leading finally to a rehabilitated, more inclusive use. Its variations include terms such as periphery, edge, and borderland, and the very proliferation of the term suggests that its provocative character still inspires critics and artists today. The word border, albeit less contested, is nevertheless a term that suggests painful history, a wound, and divisiveness. Hence the provocative nature of our proposal: to rethink the terms frontiers and borders in order to better understand their firm grip on popular imagination, as reflected in literature and literary theory.

The underlying idea of the volume is to provide space to explore the borderlands between critical theory and other ways of interpretative thinking, such as art. The idea that poetry or photography can be and indeed are a form of critical praxis, has been suggested widely in contemporary literary, and especially ecocritical, studies. Treating the permutations of the meaning of the frontier as a point of departure, the editors hope to attract scholarly proposals interested in surveying the borders between literary theory and other practices of critical consideration.

Contributors may consider the following questions: How have the historical conceptions of the frontier and the borderland changed over time, and with what implications? What are the philosophical implications of the use of the term? What are the ethical implications of the artistic choices of inhabiting the peripheries of a discipline, an art form, or a critical tradition? How do contemporary debates in posthumanism, ecocriticism, postcolonial studies, and feminism reshape our understanding of the frontiers? Alternative approaches to the issues of frontiers are also encouraged.

Scholars wishing to contribute are asked to submit an abstract of 300 words, including the title of the presentation, as well as a short CV of no more than 200 words to ontheedge@hum.uc3m.es. The deadline for abstracts is September 30, 2019. The final papers of the length between 5,000 and 6,000 words will be due February 30, 2020. We welcome initial expression of interest and any questions or queries.