The Ethical Turn Revisited

deadline for submissions: 
August 30, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies

Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies

Vol. 46 No. 2 | September 2020

Call for Papers

The Ethical Turn Revisited

Guest editor

Iping Liang (National Taiwan Normal University)

Deadline for Submissions: August 30, 2019


In the preface for a 1999 PMLA special issue on “Ethics and Literary Study,” Lawrence Buell commented on the ethical turn as the “paradigm-defining concept” of the 1990s. Thirty years later, we have witnessed a revival of interest in ethical criticism, in particular among a group of Chinese scholars led by Nie Zhenzhao of Zhejiang University. It is important to note that the Chinese turn to ethics has evolved in a specific historical context of post-revolution China. Against the background of the post-1976 import of western theories to China, Nie advocates critical ethical engagements in both literature and theory. In “Toward an Ethical Literary Criticism,” Nie argues that “the primary purpose of literature is not to provide entertainment but to offer moral examples for human beings to follow, to enrich their material and spiritual life with moral guidance, and to achieve their self-perfection with moral experience.” Nie’s theory is perhaps closest to positions advocated by Martha Nussbaum and Richard Rorty, who turn to literature “as a supplement of moral philosophy” (Buell 8). With Nussbaum and Rorty, Nie affirms that “one of the most important ingredients in moral progress is the cultivation of the imagination” (“On Moral Progress: A Response to Richard Rorty” 959). Nie looks to the micro-logic of the literary-ethical relationship to develop a system to “unpack the ethical features of literary works.” The International Association of Ethical Literary Criticism (IAELC), founded by Nie in 2012, has sponsored symposiums in countries such as China, England, Estonia, Japan, and Korea. In this special issue of Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies, we invite submissions that revisit the ethical turn through the lens of literary criticism and related critical perspectives, with a particular emphasis on literature and criticism emerging from the Asia-Pacific region.

Please send complete papers of 6,000-10,000 words, 5-8 keywords, and a brief biography to by August 30, 2019. Manuscripts should follow the latest edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. Except for footnotes, which should be single-spaced, manuscripts must be double-spaced in 12-point Times New Roman. Please consult our style guide at



Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies, indexed in Arts and Humanities Citation Index, is a peer-reviewed journal published two times per year by the Department of English, National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan. Concentric is devoted to offering innovative perspectives on literary and cultural issues and advancing the transcultural exchange of ideas. While committed to bringing Asian-based scholarship to the world academic community, Concentric welcomes original contributions from diverse national and cultural backgrounds. In each issue of Concentric we publish groups of essays on a special topic as well as papers on more general issues.

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