Genres of Empire: A Special Issue of College Literature

deadline for submissions: 
April 2, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Alyssa A. Hunziker and Mitch R. Murray
contact email: 

Call for Papers: Genres of Empire
A Special Issue of College Literature: A Journal of Critical Literary Studies

Guest Editors:
Alyssa A. Hunziker, Oklahoma State University
Mitch R. Murray, University of Florida

This special issue of College Literature asks how genre fictions, broadly conceived, understand the ongoing
and emergent history of empire. It is now perhaps cliché to note that contemporary literature and criticism
have undergone a "genre turn". Well established authors have taken up previously maligned genres from
science fiction, fantasy, westerns, to apocalypse narratives and horror. Yet, much of the critical interest in
genre contracts around a small core of authors: mostly American, white, male, and often trained in
prestigious creative writing programs, which themselves are housed in predominantly white institutions.
Reading against the grain of these tendencies, this special issue instead puts matters of colonization and
empire at the center of literary criticism’s recent attempts to grapple with genre fiction. What, in other
words, does the genre turn look like if we foreground, not its canon, but those authors, texts, and histories
relegated to its peripheries?

How do "genres of empire" help us grasp the otherwise invisible social relations that constitute our shared
reality, making visible the material and the historical? How might we recast the recent upsurge in genre
fiction not as the discovery of a few oft-discussed Anglo-American authors, but as central to the aesthetic
projects of multiethnic, Black, Indigenous, diasporic, and transnational artists in global anglophone
literatures? After all, to read authors such as Toni Morrison, Leslie Marmon Silko, Louise Erdrich, and Samuel
R. Delany is also to see the critique of global empire and its legacies as central to genre fiction decades
before the so-called genre turn. Likewise, a host of genre narratives in recent years grapple with empire’s
ongoing present: from the explosion of speculative fictions and futurisms around the globe; streaming series
like Lovecraft Country and Watchmen; works by Craig Santos Perez, Marlon James, Cathy Park Hong,
Charles Yu, Cherie Dimaline, and Mohsin Hamid; to the boom in comics and comics studies. Such works help
us to understand empire as an always unfinished project in need of constant retheorization and opposition.

Genres themselves have no transhistorical essences, but instead are enabled and exhausted under specific
historical conditions. Similarly, we understand empire and colonization as historical, ad hoc arrangements of
conventions aimed at extraction, racialization, and ecocide. How do multiethnic, Black, Indigenous,
transnational, and global anglophone artists help us to grasp those conventions, and how do they repurpose
genre fictions to do so? We are especially interested in how modalities of imperial and settler colonial
dispossession morph to meet newer realities, including but not limited to economic downturn and precarity,
climate change, and the rise of neo-fascisms across the globe.

We invite essays on topics including but not limited to:

  • Genre in global anglophone and world literatures
  • Afro-/Black, Indigenous, Asian/Asian American, Latinx, and global futurisms
  • Climate change and climate fiction
  • Historical relationships between genre fiction and (settler) colonialism
  • Horror and Weird
  • Television, film, comics, and intermedial texts
  • Global and transnational circulations of genre
  • World literature as genre
  • "Peripheral" literatures
  • Speculative fictions
  • Neo-fascisms and white supremacy
  • The rise of multiculturalism in publishing
  • Decolonial accounts of the so-called genre turn

We invite abstracts of 300-500 words by April 2, 2021. The editors will review abstracts and invite full
essays (8,000-10,000 words) for submission by September 30, 2021.

Please email abstracts to alyssa.hunziker@okstate.edu, m.murray@ufl.edu, and copy collit@wcupa.edu.
Send any queries to the guest editors.