Edited Volume: Fantasies of the Subject: Affecting Selves in Contemporary American Literature

deadline for submissions: 
December 30, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Paula Barba Guerrero & Laura de la Parra Fernández / Universidad de Salamanca


Fantasies of the Subject: Affecting Selves in Contemporary American Literature


edited by Paula Barba Guerrero & Laura de la Parra Fernández


If what we need to dream, to move our spirits most deeply and directly towards and through promise, is discounted as a luxury, then we give up the core —the fountain— of our power [...] we give up the future of our worlds.


—Audre Lorde, “Poetry Is Not a Luxury”


“Nations provoke fantasy”, contends Lauren Berlant (1997, 1). In The Queen of America Goes to Washington City (1997), Berlant argues that citizenship has become privatized in neoliberal America, and political discourses have turned to the private sphere and the appeal of the emotions. This way, what being an American citizen represents has become closely linked to the individual subject, their life choices, and their feelings and emotions. In short, certain choices, feelings or even identities, as Donald Pease claims, can be considered “un-American” (1994, 11). At the same time, the tendency toward the privatization of feeling and politics has developed along with neoliberalism. If, according to Foucault, neoliberalism can be understood as organisation of subjectivity (2008), the subject can then be managed by market rationality, whereby identity is turned into a series of rational consumer choices, risk-management and governmentality. The individual can thus be marketed and capitalised through emotions.


Following Benedict Anderson’s claim that nations are “imagined communities” (2006, 22), Timothy Brennan affirms that nations “are imaginary constructs that depend for their existence on an apparatus of cultural fictions in which imaginative fiction plays a decisive role” (1990, 49). In this sense, the idea of national fantasy may be propelled forward by means of cultural artifacts that sustain it, and which put forth the “correct” performance of subjectivity. Amongst them, fiction is a powerful tool to create what Lauren Berlant has called “intimate publics”, which are a group of readers and consumers who “already share a worldview and emotional knowledge that they have derived from a broadly common historical experience” (2008, ix). These productions, especially those traversed by sentimentality and addressed to an intimate public, allow, on the one hand, to voice complaints and express discomfort or disappointments at the failed expectations of the “good life” (Berlant 2011), while on the other hand they reify and uphold these normative narratives.


This volume seeks contributions that deal with representations of emotional selfhood from a variety of perspectives. Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:


-       “Biofiction” and the female self

-       Bodies and/in nations

-       Re/productive future(s)

-       National post-memories, mobility, and the American dream

-       Radical hope narratives and emotional (after)lives

-       Emotional fantasies and cultures: the self and/as the Other

-       Environmental fiction and the anthropocene

-       Visual and digital cultures

-       Political emotion and intimate publics

-       Pleasure narratives, affect-centered writing

-       Posthuman subjectivities and the emotions of the future

-       Literature, emotion, and activism


Prospective contributors are expected to submit 300 to 400-word abstract proposals, including full name, affiliation, and email address to paulabarbaguerrero@usal.es and lauradelaparra@usal.es by December 30th, 2021. Please indicate “Fantasies of the Subject Proposal” in the email’s subject.


Selected, peer-reviewed contributions will be published in 2023 by a top-tier academic press.



Ahmed, Sara. Living a Feminist Life. Durham: Duke University Press, 2017.

—. Cultural Politics of Emotion. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004.

—. On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life. Durham: Duke University Press, 2012.

—. Willful Subjects. Durham: Duke University Press, 2014.

Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso, [1983] 2006.

Berlant, Lauren. Cruel Optimism. Durham: Duke University Press, 2011.

—. The Female Complaint: The Unfinished Business of Sentimentality in American Culture. Durham; London: Duke University Press, 2008.

—. The Queen of America Goes to Washington City: Essays on Sex and Citizenship. Durham; London: Duke University Press, 1997.

—. The Anatomy of National Fantasy: Hawthorne, Utopia, and Everyday Life. Chicago; London: The University of Chicago Press, 1991.

Brennan, Timothy. “The National Longing for Form.” Nation and Narration, edited by Homi Bhabha. New York: Routledge, 1990, pp. 44–70.

Butler, Judith. The Force of Non-Violence. London: Verso, 2020.

—, Zeynep Gambetti, and Leticia Sabsay, eds. Vulnerability in Resistance. Durham: Duke University Press, 2016.

Foucault, Michel. The birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978–1979. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

Gilmore, Leigh. The Limits of AutobiographyTrauma and Testimony. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001.

Hirsch, Marianne. The Generation of Postmemory. New York: Columbia University Press, 2012.

Illouz, Eva. Cold Intimacies: The Making of Emotional Capitalism. London: Polity, 2007.

Khair, Tabish. The New Xenophobia. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Lorde, Audre. “Poetry Is Not a Luxury.” Your Silence Will Not Protect You. London: Silver Press, [1977] 2017, pp. 7-12..

Pease, Donald E. “National Identities, Postmodern Artifacts, and Postnational Narratives.” National Identities and Post-Americanist Narratives, edited by Donald E. Pease. Durham: Duke University Press, 1994, pp. 1–13.




-       Deadline for abstract submission: December 30th, 2021

-       Confirmation of acceptance: January 30th, 2022

-       Book chapters due: June 30th, 2022


Contact information:

Dr. Paula Barba Guerrero, University of Salamanca (paulabarbaguerrero@usal.es)

Dr. Laura de la Parra Fernández, University of Salamanca (lauradelaparra@usal.es)