CFP: [Collections] CFP: Avant-Garde as Critical Practice (15 Aug 08; journal issue)

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Justin Scott-Coe
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Call for Papers
The Avant-Garde as Critical Practice
Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture
Deadline: 15 August 2008

In this special issue, we are looking for contributions that acknowledge
the legacies of various avant-garde movements as they have affected the
genre known, for better or worse, as "criticism." From Walter Benjamin's
use of montage effects in The Arcades Project, to Roland Barthes' radical
experiments with form in his post-semiotic work, to Jacques Derrida's
exploration of a "science of chance" in his use of the signature in works
like Glas and Signsponge, there has been an ongoing, if intermittent,
tradition of exploring the idea that the historical avant-garde's interest
in art as a form of knowledge and research, its dedication to using methods
whose outcomes are unpredictable in advance (Surrealist games, Oulipian
constraints), its openness to the utopian potentials of new communications
technologies (particularly photography and cinema), all have the potential
to not only become an object of criticism, but to challenge the very
division between artistic production and critical discourse. Likewise,
artists have responded to the demands of criticism in their own right by
transforming them into manifestos and artist's statements which challenge
genre on a textual level, by creating hybrid forms such as the essay film,
and by making use of both language and image in the forms of video art,
installations, and a proliferation of cyber-art genres.

This special issue of Reconstruction seeks to engage this tradition and its
proliferations both geographical (where else has the avant-garde
destabilized the binary between art and criticism) and conceptual (the
combinations of "theory" and art in Language poetry, feminist explorations
of autobiographical inquiry as a research strategy, to name just two
prominent examples) on the level of practice. While there has been much
discussion of how various philosophers and cultural critics have broken the
frames of their respective disciplines, academia has been relatively slow
to take their experiments seriously enough to allow a proliferation of such
research practices and potential variants. With a few notable exceptions,
the Enlightenment binary between "knowledge" and "art" has held fast.

We therefore invite submissions that engage the legacies of the "critical
avant-garde" on the level of practice, that are willing to take chances
with genre. Submissions that combine text and image in new ways are
especially welcome from both "artists" and "critics," as are contributions
that take seriously the possibilities that come with combining poetic,
expository, and narrative modes of discourse. We are looking for art that
is critical, criticism that is revelatory, caprice that is methodical and
method that is "more or less capricious." Since this special issue seeks to
encourage the critical avant-garde on the level of performance, there are
no constraints as to subject matter. The "objects" of criticism may come
from any discipline or, as Gregory Ulmer has encouraged, the "object" of
criticism itself may be put into question.

Please send proposals, abstracts, completed essays, multimedial
performances, etc. to Alan Clinton ( and John
Sundholm ( by August 15, 2008. Publication is
expected in the second quarter of 2009.

Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture
<> (ISSN: 1547-4348) is an innovative
online cultural studies journal dedicated to fostering an intellectual
community composed of scholars and their audience, granting them all the
ability to share thoughts and opinions on the most important and
influential work in contemporary interdisciplinary studies. Reconstruction
publishes one open issue and three themed issues quarterly. Reconstruction
is indexed in the MLA International Bibliography.

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Received on Sun Feb 03 2008 - 15:39:52 EST