Captivity / Writing / Unbound (Edited Collection) May 1, 2013

full name / name of organization: 
Pat Cesarini and Becky McLaughlin / University of South Alabama
contact email: and

Call for Papers for Collection: Captivity / Writing / Unbound

Proposals for papers are invited for a collection entitled Captivity / Writing / Unbound. We are particularly interested in papers that explore and extend the traditional boundaries of the study of captivity writing—such writing conceived generically, geographically, historically, or in disciplinary terms—and that do so through a triangulation of the three operant terms: Captivity, Writing, Unbound.

We might take the _Prometheia_ of Aeschylus as the Ur-story of captivity, for there we learn how Prometheus unbound humans and was then bound, in turn, by Zeus. As Prometheus tells the story of human suffering to the Chorus, he says, “In the beginning, seeing they saw amiss, / And hearing heard not, but, like phantoms huddled / In dreams, the perplexed story of their days / Confounded [. . .] .” With the reference to dreams and the perplexed story of human days, we find opportunity to hook Freud's notions of bound and unbound energy into the story of captivity. According to Prometheus, humans toiled “utterly without knowledge” until he devised “number, the most excellent / Of all invention [. . .] / And gave them writing that retaineth all, / The serviceable mother of the Muse.” Of interest to us is that, directly on the heels of his having freed humans from their abject state (i.e., by having given them the language of numbers and words), Prometheus notes that he “was the first that yoked unmanaged beasts, / To serve as slaves with collar and with pack, / And take upon themselves, to man's relief, / The heaviest labour of his hands [. . .].”

Is it the case that, from the very start, captivity and writing have been bound together—that the freeing from a primary captivity requires for its security the imposition or invention of a secondary, displaced captivity; or that the symbolic constructions of freedom and of captivity alike proceed dialectically? Considering crucial junctures of captivity, freedom, and writing in other paradigmatic cases—Mary Rowlandson’s ambivalent submission to providential narrativity in 1682; Frederick Douglass’s awakening to the grim powers of literacy in 1832; Sigmund Freud’s frustrated capture and release of “Dora” into print in 1901, to cite just a few—we believe the answer to these questions is yes, and we welcome papers that find interesting and fruitful ways to explore the connections among our key terms.

Possible topics include but are not limited to the following:
• Literary and Filmic Representations of Captivity (Prometheus Bound, Exodus, The Odyssey, etc.)
• Captivity and Nationality
• Defining and/or Theorizing Captivity
• Animals and Captivity
• Fashion and Captivity (the corset, footbinding, etc.)
• Nature and Captivity
• Captivity and the Unearthly (alien abduction, etc.)
• The Erotics of Captivity
• Psychology and Captivity (phobias, eating disorders, addiction, body identity disorder)
• Captivity and Theory (Jacques Lacan's Mirror Stage, Georges Poulet's phenomenology of reading, etc.)
• Paradoxes of Captivity (illusory notions of escape and freedom, willing captives, S & M practices)
• Antidotes to Captivity (Existentialism, death, meditation, transcendentalism)
• Captivity as Metaphor, Analogy, Symbol
• Gender, Race, and Class as Forms of Captivity
• Genre as Captivity
• Pedagogy and Captivity
• The Captive Audience
• Narrative as Captivity
• History as Captivity
• Captivity and the Body (especially the obese, the diagnosed, and/or medicated body)
• Captivity and the Carceral
• Captivity and Technology
• Transhistorical Captivities
• Captivity Narrative’s Others (narratives of assimilation, captor narratives)

Please submit proposals of 350-500 words either by email to and or by regular post to Pat Cesarini or Becky McLaughlin, Department of English, University of South Alabama, 5991 USA Drive, N., Room 240, Mobile, AL 36688.

Deadline for submissions: May 1, 2013.

cfp categories: 
modernist studies