CFP: Narrative Emotion (12/15/03; journal issue)

full name / name of organization: 
Jeffrey Pence
contact email: 


Narrative Emotion: Feeling Form and Function

Special Issue of JNT: The Journal of Narrative Theory

Issue Editors: Ingrid Geerken and Jeffrey Pence

Deadline: December 15, 2003

Emotion is a vital and understudied aspect of aesthetic. We are drawn to
the aesthetic again and again because its impact is registered affectively
and somatically, as well as via rational cognition. These emotional
responses are not merely secondary correlatives to more important and
intricate modes of thought. Affective experiences of the aesthetic are
themselves complex phenomena with temporal and spatial structures that
deserve analyses in their own terms, as well as in relation to the various
specific modes (genre, media) and moments (historical, cultural) of their

Are emotions, experienced and recalled in time and space, inherently
narrative in character? At the very least, expressed emotions become
narratives, and bear the imprint of the emotions that motivated their
production. In turn, these narratives engender a variety of affective
responses in audiences. Assessing the emotional response of an audience is
one way among many of discerning these embedded structures in narrative. In
this special issue, we are interested in collecting a body of work that
could establish the study of narrative emotion as an interdisciplinary
field, drawing from the diverse methods of such discourses as textual
criticism (of fiction, film, architecture, etc), philosophy, history and
psychology. At their intersections, these approaches may generate insights
into the history of the emotions, the viability of a poetics of feeling,
and the impact different media and narrative modes have upon affective

We invite submissions that address the form and function of narrative
emotions from a variety of perspectives. Emotions can be characterized by
a particular mental process: shame produces an obsessive recalling of the
unfortunate incident, regret an imaginative exploration of alternatives.
Such mental patterns might be seen to have a corollary in narrative
techniques (in, for example, flashback or conjecture). Alternately, the
affective economy of a text may appear blocked or redirected in unexpected
ways--such as the refusal of melancholy in a work dealing with an excess of
mourning. From other angles, the history of the senses could be re-examined
to explore how feelings are fashioned by the time, place and medium in
which they are expressed and encountered. In addition, a study of
narrative emotions could be used to engage and intersect with recent
developments in narratology and cognitive science. An analysis of the
relation between feeling and form could even engender a new way of reading
texts; one, for example, that mediates between formalism and historicism by
privileging the phenomenological experiences of thinking and feeling

This special issue can begin to make visible a topology of narrative form
and affective function along these (or other) lines. As a whole, we hope
the special issue will answer larger questions related to these topics.
For example, how might textual criticism, philosophy, history and
psychology contribute to developing a poetics of feeling, a history of
emotion, or an account of narrative as emotion and emotion as narrative?
How might (or might not) an analysis of narrative emotion move from the
register of the idiosyncratic to the generalizable? What contradictions or
challenges might a systematic approach to the study of affective experience
encounter within its own project? What might such a systematic approach
have to offer to other humanistic disciplines?

To submit: Contributions should be between 3000 and 10000 words and
follow MLA style (5th edition). Footnotes should be kept to a minimum and
incorporated into the text where possible. Contributors may submit
electronic or printed copies of their manuscripts. The editors will not
return copies of submissions unless a stamped, self-addressed envelope is
enclosed. Overseas authors may wish to submit disposable copies and so
indicate in an accompanying letter.

Printed submissions should be addressed to:

Jeffrey Pence
Department of English &
  Cinema Studies Program
Rice 130
Oberlin College
10 North Professor Street
Oberlin, OH 44074

Electronic submissions (Word attachment) should be addressed to:

Deadline for receipt of submissions: December 15, 2003

For more information, consultation on manuscript ideas or any other
queries, contact either:

Ingrid Geerken:


Jeffrey Pence:

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Received on Thu Oct 02 2003 - 02:03:40 EDT