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CFP -- "Mise-en-Scene: Crime" (_Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies_)
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Department of English, National Taiwan Normal University (Taipei, Taiwan)
_Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies_
In the beginning was murder. Then came drama: the hair-tearing (or eye-gouging) discovery of one's own overweening hubris, the inconsolable grieving over the loss of the most basic sense of humanity, and, simply, more killing. Indeed, murderers are significant figures in what Erich Auerbach would call "scenes of drama from European literature": Cain, Oedipus, Medea, the parricides in Dante's inferno, Shakespeare's army of villains. Acts of killing in these literary texts not only contribute to the excitement of the drama, but also make imperative a rethinking of social order, justice, morality, state power, and human-God relations.
Alongside writers, philosophers have also long relied on scenes of crime to ground their reflections on humanity. René Girard believes that sacrifice was needed for the release of pent-up social violence. Georges Bataille sees community as "founded in the act of killing, in the rupturing of separate existence" (Fred Botting & Scott Wilson). Hegel, Jacques Lacan, and Judith Butler ponder the limit of norms and the viability of ethical claims through the figure of Antigone. Giorgio Agamben posits the figure of the homo sacer or sacred man (he "who may be killed and yet not sacrificed") to illustrate the threshold being qua bare life, challenging traditional assumptions behind the concept of sovereignty; Agamben even goes so far as to read the concentration camp, an extreme instance of political crime for many, as the paradigm of modern biopolitics. For Michel Foucault, the Panopticon prison system initiated a new dimension in the modern modality of power, whereas the household mass murder case of Pierre Rivière in the year of 1835 was the setting in which numerous contemporary discourses (medical, juridical, historiographic) intersected with and confronted one another.
Crime scenes continue to figure prominently in our time, oftentimes in a larger-than-life fashion. The Guantanamo Bay detention and torture of war prisoners stands as an infamous example of sovereignty unbound by law; it makes one wonder if, in the wake of the 9/11 incident, we must always think of crime in the context of globalization and even vice versa. In pop culture, cannibalistic serial killers are ranked among the most fascinating, if not also the smartest, filmic characters. Prime-time "crime scene investigation" drama series are introducing a new truth regime based on a highly empirical forensic science and criminal psychology. And the virtual world of online games is to a great extent built on the participant's imaginary enactment of the role of the criminal or crime buster.
Various thinkers, then, have resorted to the motif or instance of crime as the mise-en-scène wherein to theorize a certain issue. Central to such inquiries is the conception of community: what is allowed and what is not when one lives in relation to others? What acts are considered crimes or not crimes if a community is to function properly? Where does law begin? Does it end somewhere, anywhere? What is the line between crime and sin, between the human law and the divine law?
For this special issue, we invite submissions that investigate the "crime scene" in theoretical discourses. For instance, how are the following issues dealt with in different theorists, by way of the figure of crime—-limit, transgression, power, knowledge, life, and ethics? On the stage of today's worldwide power struggle, is "crime" being redefined thanks to the rise of an inescapably interconnected globe?
We also welcome works that research the genres of crime fiction, crime film, and crime drama in a refreshing light. For example, is the bespectacled detective giving way to the white-robed forensic scientist as the new hero of the social order? Can we read the boom in plots based on crime scene investigation and criminal profiling as an indicator or "symptom" of a rational turn in our time? Why is the corpse of the victim increasingly being presented as a familiar, approachable object in these TV and filmic dramas? What kind of repetition compulsion may be at play in the reception of these genres?
Any discussions of the "scene of the crime" in relation to literary, dramatic or cinematic works, their characters, plots, images, symbols and ideas, will also be welcome.
_Concentric_ invites submissions related to the special issue topic, and also welcomes papers on general topics. The focus can be on any historical period and any region. Any critical approach may be employed so long as the paper demonstrates a distinctive contribution to scholarship in the given field.
1. Manuscripts should be submitted in English. Please send the manuscript, a 300-word abstract, 5-6 keywords, and a vita as Word-attachments to . Alternatively, please mail us two hard copies and an IBM-compatible diskette copy. _Concentric_ will acknowledge receipt of the submission but will not return it after review. Articles should generally be 6,000-10,000 words in length.
2. Manuscripts should be prepared according to the latest edition of the _MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers_. Except for footnotes, which should be single-spaced, manuscripts must be double-spaced and typeset in 12-point Times New Roman.
3. To facilitate the journal’s anonymous refereeing process, there must be no indication of personal identity or institutional affiliation in the manuscript proper. The author may cite his/her previous works, but only in the third person.
4. Please attach or enclose a cover letter stating that the manuscript is not currently being considered for publication elsewhere.
5. If the paper has been published or submitted elsewhere in a language other than English, please also submit a copy of the non-English version. Concentric may not consider submissions already available in other languages.
6. One copy of the journal and fifteen off-prints of the article will be provided to the author(s) on publication.
7.It is the journal’s policy to require all authors to sign an assignment of copyright form.
Editor, _Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies_