Hysteria Manifest: Cultural Lives of a Great Disorder / Deadline 15 March 2013

full name / name of organization: 
English Studies in Canada (ESC)

English Studies in Canada (ESC) invites submissions for a special issue entitled "Hysteria Manifest: Cultural Lives of a Great Disorder," guest edited by Ela Przybylo and Derritt Mason.

Hysteria, a largely feminized disorder of great cultural invention and investment, continues to hold the contemporary imaginary. Although repeatedly declared "dead" and removed from the DSM-III in 1980, hysteria persists in the folds of medicalization and in the soon-to-be-released DSM-V (2013) as "conversion disorder" or "functional neurological symptom disorder," buttressing Elaine Showalter's (1997) claim that "hysteria has not died, it has simply been relabeled for a new era." Markedly, hysteria has recently surfaced on the big screen in three films (Alice Winocour's Augustine (2012), David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method (2011) and Tanya Wexler's Hysteria (2011)), onstage in Sarah Ruhl's 2009 Pulitzer-nominated In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play), and in the widespread media coverage of a winter 2012 outbreak of mass conversion disorder amongst female high school students in upstate New York. Despite this ongoingness of hysteria's manifestations and the vast academic interest in hysteria, there is a real dearth of considerations of hysteria that map not only its histories, but also its presents, not only its death, but also its enduring afterlife as a compelling cultural and diagnostic trope.

"Hysteria Manifest: Cultural Lives of a Great Disorder" aims to read hysteria's present—its current representations, manifestations, embodiments, deployments, and iterations—while drawing on its diverse genealogies and violent, tangled past: a past that weaves its way through Jean-Martin Charcot's spectacular theatre of hysteria at the Salpêtrière hospital, the birth and fruition of Freudian psychoanalysis, and more recently, feminism's reclamation of the disorder as an index of female oppression under patriarchy. Such a "history of the present" looks at hysteria's past in an effort to understand its present, traces its transformations and mutations, and maps its circulations as a provocative and critically salient trope for considering issues of gender, sexuality, psychoanalysis, performance, visuality, illness, dis/ability, biopolitics, colonialism, and mass media. "Hysteria Manifest," then, will challenge hysteria's grand histories and unearth its minor ones, defy myths of hysteria's origins, teleology, progress, and its ties to medico-scientific objectivity, while emphasizing its present-day potency.

For this special issue of ESC, we are seeking an array of contributions which will engage contemporary manifestations and representations of hysteria. Specifically, we invite submissions of academic papers, art-based work, cultural commentaries, and creative pieces (short stories, poetry, photo essays) from scholars, writers, and artists. We also welcome interdisciplinary approaches informed by (but not limited to) literary theory, feminist theory, film studies, cultural studies, critical race and postcolonial studies, queer and critical sexuality theories, psychoanalysis, critical disability studies, medical sociology, and performance studies.

Submissions should, in some way, draw on hysteria's past to convey a sense of hysteria's haunting and persistent presence in the cultural imaginary. Topics of inquiry may include:

Representations of hysteria in contemporary film, literature, and art
Hysteria and literary criticism (e.g., James Wood's concept of "hysterical realism")
Hysteria and the image
Transnational and transcultural approaches to hysteria
The body, trauma, medicalization, and biopolitics
Hysteria and fan culture; the image of the hysterical teenage fan
Mass hysteria and vampires, zombies, dystopias
Hysteria and consumer culture
The legacies of hysteria's feminization
Feminist approaches to hysteria
Masculinity and hysteria
Hysteria and sexuality; sexual excess and lack
Hysteria and the child
The spectre of hysteria in psychoanalysis
Hysteria as performative illness; the theatre/spectacle of hysteria

Deadline for submissions (maximum of 8500 words) is 15 March 2013. Creative pieces or cultural commentaries—i.e., critical responses to cultural representations of hysteria—should be between 500-2500 words, with the exception of short poems.

Note to contributors: ESC normally accepts black and white images, up to a limit of six per article. Contributors are responsible for securing permissions.

Please forward completed essays, in MLA format, along with a 100-word abstract and a 50-word bio to przybylo@yorku.ca and derritt@ualberta.ca. The journal's style sheet is available at http://www.arts.ualberta.ca/~esc/submit.php.

ESC: English Studies in Canada is a quarterly journal of scholarship and criticism concerned with the study of literature and culture. Recent special issues include "Traffic" (Eds. Cecily Devereux and Mark Simpson), "Guilt" (Ed. J. Faflak), "Sound/Poetry/Event" (Eds. L. Cabri, A. Levy, P. Quartermain), and "Skin" (Ed. J. Emberley). For more information visit ESC Digital at www.arts.ualberta.ca/~esc.