ASEBL Journal - ethics, literature, and evolutionary studies - January 2014 issue

full name / name of organization: 
St. Francis College
contact email:

ASEBL Journal is published once a year, around January, on the St. Francis College (NY) website. (See our current issue by visiting, About tab.) We are currently looking for articles to be published in the January 2014 issue. The journal is peer-reviewed and is indexed in Humanities Source, a major database of EBSCO Host. This means that if your work is accepted, it will be accessible to a world-wide audience through a major academic (electronic) publisher.

If you are interested in submitting an article, contact the editor, Professor Gregory F. Tague: ASEBL Journal is not directed at any highly-specialized audience. The articles, while academic in nature (grounded in scholarship), are written for an audience generally in tune with and sensitive to the notion of ethical readings of literature (particularly from an evolutionary perspective). To borrow from the title of Robert Wright’s book, what makes a human being a moral animal?

ASEBL can be Ethical Behavior or Evolutionary Biology. So we are especially interested in writing that, broadly conceived, accommodates any treatment of the convergence among ethics, biology, and literature. That is, personal responsibility, moral identity, social emotions, human nature, consciousness, and conscience from an evolutionary perspective. All of this comes down to the crucible of the biology of morality, studied by primatologists (e.g., Frans de Waal), anthropologists (e.g., Christopher Boehm), and evolutionary psychologists (e.g., Leda Cosmides and John Tooby). There are, of course, literary theorists/critics doing work, variously, in this area already (Lisa Zunshine, Kay Young, and Blakey Vermeule to mention only a few).

ASEBL is primarily interested in how moral (social) behavior is depicted in literary texts, how readers might respond to such depictions, and whether or not there is an evolutionary or adaptive function to the production of such moral representations.

What makes us believe morality derives from a heavenly cloud or a theoretical Form or an abstract imperative? In great part the evolution of our social emotions is responsible for many of our behavioral codes. How does this play out in literary works? And yet there is something distinctive about human morality not found in other highly-developed primates. How can we re-vitalize the humanities by reading literature with an understanding of evolutionary studies? While the genesis of the journal is humanistic, that originating intent does not rule out readings that include science (though it does rule out post-modernist, deconstructive readings).

We continue to welcome ethical readings in a humanistic vein (though that does not include religious ideologies, politically-conservative opinions, or readings that completely ignore human evolution). While the main context of the journal is the study of literature, other disciplines (especially in terms of a bridge to evolutionary science) will be considered (and might serve as substantial blog posts), such as philosophy (as well as the other arts, e.g., dance, music, painting, or sculpture). Indeed, we would embrace select articles only on the convergence of morality/biology.

Please query before submitting. Submissions are to be in MLA or APA format: brief in-text citations with a works-cited page; endnotes (no footnotes). Important: endnotes need to be set up without using embedded noting programs. If you use some type of automatically-enumerating noting software, all of the enumerations get lost when we create the master journal: simply type notes (if you have any), numbered consecutively, as text after your paper just before the bibliography. Documents should not have any headers or footers. If, after a query, the editor asks you to submit an article for consideration, please send a Word attachment that has a cover sheet with your name and contact information; your name should not appear anywhere else in the body of your paper – only on the cover/contact sheet. Articles should be 3,750 words (more or less). Please submit finished work only. Important: please make sure that any correspondence includes ASEBL in the subject line.

We want to use our site as a forum for guests to blog about the connections (consilience / congruence) among philosophy, science, and literature. While blog entries need not be scholarly, there should be some commitment to academic discourse. We are also open to book reviews, although for these we would prefer works only in the realm of evolutionary studies. Please query first about a blog post or (blog) book review – do not send any unsolicited material. When querying, please include ASEBL in the subject line.

To provide context and grounding, many of the following have done some writing in the areas of ethical criticism or areas relating biology (emotions, consciousness, evolutionary psychology, etc.) and morality – (a highly-selective list): Charles Darwin; Richard Alexander; Maxwell Bennett; Paul Bloom; Christopher Boehm; Wayne C. Booth; Joseph Carroll; Patricia Churchland; Leda Cosmides; Antonio Damasio; Richard Dawkins; Daniel Dennett; Michael Gazzaniga; Joshua Greene; Jonathan Haidt; Peter M.S. Hacker; Marc Hauser; David Hume; Jerome Kagan; Dennis L. Krebs; Joseph Le Doux; Steven J. Mithen; Martha C. Nussbaum; David Parker; Steven Pinker; Adam Smith; John Tooby; Frans de Waal; E.O. Wilson; Lisa Zunshine.

cfp categories: