Omission

deadline for submissions: 
March 12, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Patrick Gill, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

Omission as the purposeful withholding of a component from a text or other work of art, is an aesthetic practice looking back on a long history. From the simple statement to the effect that a particular idea cannot be adequately expressed, via the deliberate practice of choosing which scenes not to represent on stage, to the sudden collapse of a text into an unexpected silence, omission can be a powerful aesthetic strategy. Be it through deliberate incompletion, through the absence of language or characters, or through a dearth of contextual information leaving an abundance of interpretive gaps, such instances of omission are based on three main ideas:

a)     they are heavily signposted so as to be understood as integral to the overall understanding of the respective work

b)     they go against an expectation the text itself or its genre has engendered in the reader

c)     they are ostensibly concerned with conferring some of the responsibility of generating meaning onto the reader

The effects such omissions can have are multiple, but in some regards they are concerned with limits: the limits of representation (when words cannot adequately reflect a phenomenon or emotion), in some instances, or the limits of knowledge (when interpretive gaps make it impossible to come to a univocal conclusion) in others.

Dedicated to “Omission” in all its artistic manifestations, this issue of Symbolism: An International Annual of Critical Aesthetics is based on contributions dealing with various forms of gaps, absences, and ellipses. While the majority of essays has already been assigned, a number of periods/genres/forms are still underrepresented. Thus suggestions offering discussions of specimen texts in the areas of medieval literature, Renaissance poetry, postcolonial literature, and TV series would be particularly welcome, though other additions of interest - neither restricted to particular national/linguistic traditions nor limited to literature alone - will also be considered. Suggestions will be selected based on the quality of the proposal as well as its utility in the context of the overall volume.

Please send a 200-word abstract as well as a short biographical note to the volume editor: patrick.gill@uni-mainz.de by 12 March 2021. Completed essays (6,000-8,000 words) would be required by 1 September 2021.