theory@buffalo: The Word Flesh [UPDATE]

full name / name of organization: 
theory@ buffalo, Journal of the Department of Comparative Literature, State University of New York at Buffalo
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Call For Papers
Editors: Jana V. Schmidt, Brian O’Neil
Annual Journal of the Department of Comparative Literature
theory@buffalo issue 17: “The Word Flesh”

Flesh is the element that connects us to the world and the objects that inhabit it. In Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s conception, the “flesh of the world” designates our shared carnality and our sensual connectedness with our surroundings as an alternative model to the classical dichotomy of spirit and matter. Meaning (and, by extension, language as a system of meaning) grows out of the relation of the flesh to itself. Similarly, Sigmund Freud also developed an understanding of the relationship between flesh and meaning through concepts such as Nachträglichkeit or delayed action. For Freud, trauma functions as a kind of “language of the flesh”; psychoanalysis itself can be viewed as an attempt to develop a vocabulary through which this fleshly meaning can be incarnated. The problem of fleshliness and its relation to symbolization is not unique to psychoanalysis or phenomenology, however. Theorists as diverse as Gilles Deleuze, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Luc Nancy, Luce Irigaray, and Frantz Fanon have all made this issue central to their thinking, and the question of embodiment more generally has preoccupied disciplines ranging from gender and performance studies to theology.

New forms of materialism are currently reformulating the relationship between flesh and language in ways that direct our attention away from traditional points of reference. In the human sciences, recent developments are increasingly collapsing the difference between matter and meaning, but have offered us little by way of a language to describe the significance of this fusion. In the humanities, fields of inquiry such as affect and trauma studies, speculative realism and actor-network theory no longer take their cues from literary texts but, instead, have turned to the natural sciences for new ways to articulate the relationship between flesh and word. Issue 17 of theory@buffalo, “The Word Flesh,” seeks out submissions that investigate the relationship between acts of inscription, metaphors of physicality, and the ontotechnologies of the flesh in the age of neuroscientific discovery.

The list of past contributors includes Miguel de Beistegui, Adrian Johnston, Bruno Bosteels, Tina Chanter, Mladen Dolar, Rodolphe Gasché, Elizabeth Grosz, Werner Hamacher, Ernesto Laclau, Leonard Lawlor, Catherine Malabou, William McNeill, Jean-Michel Rabaté, Gerhard Richter, Elizabeth Rottenberg, Allan Stoekl, Jean-Luc Nancy, and Ewa Ziarek.

Submissions should be no longer than 10,000 words. The deadline for submissions is November 1, 2012.

Theory@buffalo also accepts book reviews, which can be on any topic and must be 1,200 words or less. Please send two blind copies with a cover page and disk to the address below. Alternatively, you may send your submission as an MS Word attachment to Jana Schmidt at, re: theory@buffalo 17.

Jana Schmidt and Brian O'Neil, Editors
Department of Comparative Literature
638 Clemens Hall, North Campus
University at Buffalo
Buffalo, NY 14260

cfp categories: 
modernist studies