Spaces of Shelter: Asylum, Refuge, Sanctuary, Quarantine

deadline for submissions: 
February 28, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
SEL: Studies in English Literature
contact email: 

Spaces of Shelter:

Asylum, Refuge, Sanctuary, Quarantine


a special issue of SEL: Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 63.1 (Winter 2023)

edited by Urvashi Chakravarty, Ross Knecht, Joseph Campana


The accumulating impacts of global pandemic, pervasive migration and border crises, and widespread environmental degradation seem to have intensified the fantasy that spaces of shelter can be carved out of a world of intensifying risk and harm, at least for some. Under such pressures, the exclusionary and often violent underpinning of such ideals becomes more and more apparent. In such a time, terms with long and complex histories--like asylum, refuge, sanctuary, and quarantine--become increasingly invoked. What spaces or spatial logics arise in times of crisis? Who can access them? Do such spaces not only promise but actually provide protection or do they merely confirm inequitably distributed precarity? Where and when might repair, reparation, and care be possible or is the idea of shelter a false lure? Might such spaces in fact disenfranchise or homogenize? How useful are these terms like asylum, refuge, sanctuary, and quarantine to think with? How do they resonate between their emergence in early modernity and their invocation now? What literary, theatrical, and cultural forms and media expose spaces of shelter and their tenuous promises?

We invite papers that consider the lure of shelter in early modern literature and contemporary culture for a special issue of SEL: Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 entitled “Spaces of Shelter: Asylum, Refuge, Sanctuary, Quarantine.” Papers might consider such topics as the early modern right of sanctuary within critical frameworks of race and diaspora, the sanctuary city movement, the representation of migration and asylum-seeking in early modern literature, environmental and ecocritical approaches to space and sanctuary, plague literature and the early modern practice of quarantine, the Liberties of London and the stage as spaces of social and legal refuge, territory and sovereignty, and biopolitics and the state of exception. We welcome papers from immigration studies, critical race studies, critical indigenous studies, law and literature, ecocriticism, queer studies, medical humanities, disability studies, and other fields and approaches.


We’re seeking essays of 5000 words by 28th February 2022. Please:

  • Feel free to get in touch with us to brainstorm, discuss ideas, and clarify queries at any point in advance of the deadline. We are happy to think with you about possible approaches and topics.
  • Send queries to:
  • Upload your submissions here:
  • Indicate in your cover letter that this is a submission for the special issue “Spaces of Shelter.”