The style of critical essays on the arts

deadline for submissions: 
May 20, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Poli-Femo Journal

The style of critical essays on the arts


"The essay is first and foremost a literary genre of critical and anti-dogmatic thought, and it is for this reason that it has exercised an essential function in the development of Western culture. Behind its form, what is revealed is not only the historical growth of the modern individual, but also public discussion and critical reason applied to themes of collective interest". The words are those of Alfonso Berardinelli, one of the most authoritative Italian scholars of the genre. A few years later Remo Ceserani was to specify that the essay "can be considered the concrete form in which encounters between disciplines are realized in an explicit and plastic way", given that it is "the interdisciplinary form par excellence". The aim of issue 16-17 of "Poli-femo" is to study the stylistic plasticity of the essay genre, and to analyse in particular the characteristics of critical essays on the arts: which inventions, which structures, which figures of speech, which intertextual references, which communication strategies are chosen by those who reflect on the arts.

Therefore, we will assume that research into the problematic definition of the essay, into the multiplicity of its themes, into the subjectivity and eccentricity of a thought that continues between doubts and contradictions has already been assimilated. From Theodor W. Adorno to Roland Barthes, from Klaus Weissenberger to Alfonso Berardinelli and Giulia Cantarutti, there are numerous important theoretical reflections on an open genre which "Poli-Femo" intends to discuss from the point of view of art criticism. All the arts: not only the literary arts (poetry, novels etc.), but also and above all the visual arts (painting, sculpture etc.), the performing arts (music, dance, theatre, musical theatre etc.), the constructive arts (architecture, design), the arts of the post-mechanical technological image (still or in movement: photography, cinema, video art etc.) and all those that have appeared in more recent times as hybrids or extensions or twists of the traditional arts (installations, performance art, land art, net art, comics etc.

"Poli-Femo" therefore urges researchers in various disciplines – literary and other arts disciplines - to present articles aimed at the study of the semiotic, linguistic and literary style of criticism. Talking about style does not mean talking about "good writing", but dealing with how an essay is created. You may decide to analyze the works of a single author and/or a "school" (Roberto Longhi and / or the "Longhiani", for example), or you may choose to read a series of authors who have dealt with a specific art (the theorists of the Modern Movement in architecture, for example), or you may carry out a critical study concerning different arts (literature and cinema, literature and music, among others). Further topics that can be covered include:

- The origins of the essayistic style (in the forms of correspondence, dialogues, treatises), its development in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the transformations of writing on the web;

- The permeability of critical language with regard to the artistic discipline;

- The relationship between technical jargon and instances of popular publications;

- The complexity of a subjective style of writing that describes and interprets elements of artistic reality;

- Genre essay writing;

- The convergence between forms of discourse (morphology, syntax, figures of speech) and forms of thought (for example, the description of an object and the narration of an experience with that object are different).


Other proposals for study on the subject put forward by those intending to collaborate in the publication will be examined by the Scientific Committee, in order to widen the field of exploration undertaken in this issue of the Magazine. Contributions will be accepted in Italian, English and French.

To this end, the Editorial Board propose the following deadlines, with an essential preliminary step being the sending, to, of an abstract (min.10/max.20 lines), keywords and a short curriculum vitae of the proposer, by no later than 20th May 2019. Authors will receive confirmation from the Editorial Board of acceptance of their contributions by 3rd June 2019. Contributions shall be delivered on 30th September 2019.

All contributions will be subject to a double blind peer review. The issue, edited by Prof. Lucia Rodler and Prof. Stefano Lombardi Vallauri, will be published in December 2019.