"Mise-en-Scène: Crime" (special issue)

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Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies (Department of English, National Taiwan Normal University)

Vol. 38 No. 1 (March 2012)
Submissions due August 15, 2011

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, and 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.

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 (he "who may be killed and yet not sacrificed") to illustrate the threshold being qua bare life; Agamben even goes so far as to read the concentration camp, an extreme instance of political crime, as the paradigm of modern biopolitics. And for Michel Foucault, the Panopticon prison system symbolizes a new dimension in the modern modality of power, whereas the mass murder committed by the young peasant Pierre Rivière in 1835 helps to elucidate the way in which various modern discursive fields such as the medical, juridical, and historiographical 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 exemplifies a sovereignty unbound by law, making one wonder if, in the wake of the 9/11 incident, we must always think of crime in the context of globalization and 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 grounded in forensic science and criminal psychology, to the effect of drastically changing the way we think about human conduct and causality. 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 and/or crime buster.

For this special issue of Concentric, 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 stories of crime scene investigation and criminal profiling as an indicator 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—including their characters, plots, images, symbols, and ideas—will also be welcome.

Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies is a peer-reviewed journal published biannually by the Department of English, National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan. The journal is devoted to offering innovative perspectives on literary and cultural issues and advancing the transcultural exchange of ideas. While committed to bringing Asian-based scholarship to the world academic community, Concentric welcomes original contributions from diverse national and cultural backgrounds.

Concentric engages in intellectual discussion by mounting themed issues. Each issue is also open for papers on general topics. The focus can be on any historical period and any region. Any critical method may be employed as long as the paper demonstrates a distinctive contribution to scholarship in the field.

Concentric boasts a strong editorial and advisory team composed of respected scholars from across the world. The journal has also collaborated with distinguished international scholars as guest editors, such as Wlad Godzich, María Herrera-Sobek, Shirley Geok-lin Lim, Charles Shepherdson, Scott Slovic, and Ban Wang. Past and future contributors include Ronald Lynn Bogue, Vilashini Cooppan, Sneja Gunew, Carl Gutiérrez-Jones, Haiyan Lee, Leo Lefebure, Deborah L. Madsen, Steven Shaviro, Hugh J. Silverman, Frank Webster, Rob Wilson, Gang Gary Xu, and Yingjin Zhang.

Manuscript Submission Guidelines
(Updated March 2011)

1. Manuscripts should be submitted in English. Please send the manuscript, an abstract of no more than 250 words with 5-8 keywords, and a brief curriculum vitae as Word attachments to . Please also attach a cover letter stating that the manuscript is not currently being considered for publication elsewhere. Concentric will acknowledge receipt of the submission but will not return it after review.

2. Submissions made to the journal should generally be at least 6,000 words but should not exceed 10,000 words, notes included; the bibliography is not counted. 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 throughout 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. 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.

5. If the author wishes to include copyrighted images in the essay, the author is solely responsible for obtaining permission for the images.

6. Two copies of the journal and a PDF version of the published essay will be provided to the author(s) upon publication. (Authors who submitted their papers in response to the earlier call for papers of issue 38.1 may opt for the previous offer of one copy of the journal and fifteen off-prints of their essay.)

7. It is the journal's policy to require all authors to sign an assignment of copyright.

For submissions or general inquiries, please contact us as follows:

Editor, Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies
Department of English
National Taiwan Normal University
162 Heping East Road, Section 1
Taipei 106

Phone: +886 (0)2 77341803
Fax: +886 (0)2 23634793
Email: concentric.lit@deps.ntnu.edu.tw
Web: http://www.concentric-literature.url.tw/