Call for Articles: Special Issue "Contemporary Narratives of Bildung: New Directions"

deadline for submissions: 
August 15, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Melissa Gelinas
contact email: 

Special Issue Proposal


Contemporary Narratives of Bildung: New Directions

The evolution of the coming-of-age genre is a fascinating one. The term Bildungsroman, used in literary criticism to refer to a novel of formation or education, became widely used near the end of the 19th century to refer to texts in which the protagonist is central and the theme involves his or her development from childhood and/or adolescence to adulthood. From early, classical examples such as Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship (1796) to more recent iterations across a wide range of media and subgenres (from video games to Japanese “cellphone novels”), the coming-of-age story has provided not only an in-depth relationship with the text’s protagonist, but also an understanding of the cultural critiques of the author, examined through the protagonist and his or her peers.

As products of European modernity, traditional Bildung narratives have reflected the situated and historical conjuncture that gave rise to the centripetal and exclusionary construction of the nation-state, buttressed by a unitary vision of the subject. In contrast, the contemporary coming-of-age genre has become de-centered and globalized, and it often serves to interrogate the crisis of subjectivity. Initially focused on the teleological development and the social opportunities of a white male protagonist, Bildung stories now portray identity formation from a diversity of positionalities and as a contingent, performative, and layered process that is influenced by existing and emerging categories, norms, and power relations.

This special issue examines how contemporary coming-of-age stories (including but not restricted to literature) differ from classical iterations of the genre while retaining an identifiable core that has sustained its globalisation and diversification. We invite articles that address contemporary narratives of Bildung and:

-new theoretical paradigms (e.g. transnationalism, decolonial theory, Afro/Indigenous futurism, ecocriticism, etc.)

-hybridity, mobility, inbetweenness, and identity (cultural, racial, gender, etc.)

-multilingualism and linguistic diversity (Bildung across languages)

-spaces of intercultural performance

-global issues (e.g. settler colonialism, neocolonialism, migration, post-national activism, environmental justice, labor and neoliberalism)

-changing social demands and norms

-youth subcultures

-translation, adaptation, remake (Bildung across texts and contexts)

-new platforms and media (e.g. Bildungsfilme and “Bildung-comics”)

-emerging sub-genres of the Bildungsroman


Submission Instructions

The editors of Symposium: A Quarterly Journal in Modern Languages have agreed to review this special issue for publication according to their peer-review process. To read more about the aims and scope of this journal or obtain information about the editorial board, please see the journal’s page accessible through the Taylor & Francis website.

To receive full consideration, articles must be 12 pt. Times New Roman font, no more than 22 pages in length, double-spaced, and prepared according to the MLA Handbook, 8th ed. Please note that articles exceeding the page limit will not be given full-consideration. Detailed formatting guidelines are available on Symposium’s “Instructions for authors” page.

Authors should submit the final drafts of their article before the deadlines outlined below to



August 15, 2018 – Final drafts of submissions due to guest editor

September 1, 2018 – Submissions will be returned to authors with a decision and revisions for further consideration, where necessary

September 21, 2018 – Article revisions due to guest editor

October 1, 2018 – Special issue will begin Symposium’s double-blind peer-review process


Guest Editor: Mélissa Gélinas, Concordia University (