REMINDER- Postcritique and the Event of Literature: Exploring the Limits of Subjectivity

deadline for submissions: 
September 6, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Chinmaya Lal Thakur

Call for Proposals

Edited anthology to be issued by a leading international publisher

Postcritique and the Event of Literature: Exploring the Limits of Subjectivity

            Notwithstanding the affirmation of Black and coloured identities in the recent protests following the killing of George Floyd, there has been a shift away from identity politics in some academic disciplines and discourses. In several departments of literary studies, for example, the tendency is underlined in works by critics and thinkers who do not see the literary as a mere function of the socio-political and historical. They invest themselves in returning to questions which have been sidelined by ideological criticism, questions such as ‘What is the value of literary studies?’, ‘What good has the theoretical turn done for literary studies?’, and ‘How does the literary force us to reimagine not only socio-political identities but also politics and ethics in general?’ (Bissell, 2002; Elliott and Attridge, 2011; McDonald, 2015) Their enquiries can be broadly categorized into two groups—those which affirm the singular and evential nature of the literary and those which espouse a move towards postcritique. (Attridge, 2004 and 2015; Anker and Felski, 2017; Felski, 2015 and 2020)

            It would not be an exaggeration to argue that thinking of the literary as an event has subverted conventional criticism whose wont has been to conceive literature as that which attests to socio-historical patterns, tendencies, and hierarchies existing in a given context. The literary, as the likes of Derek Attridge have underlined, does not quite fit within this contextual space and compels readers to reimagine identities and ideologies in fresh and unforeseen ways. A similar argument can be made about the proponents of postcritique such as Rita Felski who highlight the manner in which critique has become predictable and conservative on account of its investment in reading patterned along the lines of hermeneutics of suspicion. Yet, the motive behind proposing the collection of essays Postcritique and the Event of Literature: Exploring the Limits of Subjectivity is the view that the arguments constituting the eventiality of the literary as well as postcritique can be pushed further and thus rendered radical if their import is brought to bear on the question of subjectivity.

            The proposed anthology of essays attempts to unravel the implications of thinking of the event of the literary and postcritique on subjectivity. This includes engaging with questions such as ‘What does it mean for the transcendental subject that the literary is a singular event?’, ‘How does the event of the literary underline the limits of the subject’s being?’, ‘Can the subject be said to (re)act to the event in affective but non-reflective ways?’, ‘How does the literary text perform the limits of subjectivity —in language, form, and style?’, and ‘In what way do the various limits of the human(ist) subject call forth the reimagination of critique?’. The overall attempt in the proposed collection is thus to push the subject into ontological crisis and explore the various inflections of such crisis.

            Studies of accidents, contingency, affect, and the sublime have often exposed the limits of transcendental subjectivity. Those interested in contributing to the proposed collection are encouraged to enquire as to how these approaches can be brought into a productive dialogue with thinking of the evential nature of the literary and appreciating the limits of critique. We are especially interested in hearing from graduate students, doctoral researchers, and early career researchers. Queries as well as single-author abstracts/chapter-proposals of 400-500 words can be submitted at The deadline is Sunday, the 6th of September.


Tentative timeline towards publication of the anthology:

1. Issue of call for proposals: 1st July 2020

2. Deadline for submission of abstracts: 6th September 2020

3. Intimation of acceptance/rejection of proposals: 21st September 2020

4. Deadline for submission of chapters (approx. 7000 words): 20th December 2020


Contact Persons:

Chinmaya Lal Thakur, Dept. of Creative Arts and English, La Trobe University, Melbourne

Anibal Goth, Dept. of English, University of Delhi, Delhi

Nishtha Pandey, Dept. of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Madras, Chennai



Anker, Elizabeth S. and Rita Felski eds. Critique and Postcritique. Duke University Press, 2017.

Aquilina, Mario. The Event of Style in Literature. Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

Attridge, Derek. The Singularity of Literature. Routledge, 2004.

____________ . The Work of Literature. Oxford University Press, 2015.

Bissell, Elizabeth Beaumont ed. The Question of Literature: The Place of the Literary in Contemporary Theory. Manchester University Press, 2002.

Elliott, Jane and Derek Attridge eds. Theory After ‘Theory’. Routledge, 2011.

Felski, Rita. The Limits of Critique. The University of Chicago Press, 2015.

________ . Hooked: Art and Attachment. The University of Chicago Press, 2020.

McDonald, Ronan ed. The Values of Literary Studies: Critical Institutions, Scholarly Agendas. Cambridge University Press, 2015.