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Villians, December 15, 2010
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Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies
This issue of The Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies seeks to explore the political, social, and cultural significations of “evil” (and its corollary: the “good”) via a critical analysis of the fluid, mutable figure of the “villain.”
A few possible perspectives for the study the figure of the villain are:
1) The Villain as the “Natural” Being: Some political theorists, including Thomas Hobbes and Carl Schmitt, view the pre-political “state of nature” as a lawless condition where the fundamentally evil “nature” of the human is revealed. The law and state are effective “civilizational” instruments that curb the evil nature of the human by subsuming the state of nature. From this perspective, could the villain be an enduring socio-cultural representation of the foundational political fiction of the “natural” human?
2) The Villain as the Sacrificial “Other”: Is the villain, as the sacrificial “other,” central for the imaginaries of national, ethnic and cultural communities? Following Georges Bataille and Rene Girard, can we study a particular culture’s construction of villains and villainy as a key to the myth of “generative violence” that sustains a particular community’s sense of selfhood and otherness?
3) The Villain as a Figure that Defies Representation: Does the figure of the villain represent an inhuman realm beyond representation? Is the villain a “world-creating” representation, in Habermas’s sense of an aesthetic use of language, marking that which is fundamentally destructive of worlds? Are new legal and social categories necessary to comprehend villains and villainy?
Along with cultural, literary and film studies, we also invite submissions from the perspectives of political theory, law and legal theory, studies of colonialism and nationalism, post-humanism, visual arts, communication and media studies, and popular culture.
Please submit two (2) printed copies and one by email by December 15, 2010, to the Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies, English Department, 308 English-Philosophy Building,
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or to send submissions.
We prefer essays no longer than 9,000 words, MLA format. Please keep discursive endnotes to a minimum.
The Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies is a peer-reviewed publication edited by graduate students that mixes traditional approaches and contemporary interventions in the interdisciplinary humanities and interpretive social sciences. Visit the website at