SPECIAL ISSUE - Imprisoned ‘Self’: Narratives of Loss, Guilt, Transformation (Journal of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics)
Imprisoned ‘Self’: Narratives of Loss, Guilt, Transformation
Guest Editor: Ayan Chakraborty (Jawaharlal Nehru University, India)
Prison narratives have, quite recently, emerged as an exciting genre of literary studies in academia. While the concept of imprisonment has always invited a substantial focus within sociological studies, it had marginally to do either with the deeper exploration of the ‘imprisoned self’ or the ‘narratology’ (the logic of the narrative) about the experiences recorded by the prisoner. With life in the prison succeeding in drawing interest from literary critics, different approaches have been proposed to study language and experiences (in terms of wording) to look at the representation of the self and the various expressions of pain, agony, guilt, transformation, and even liberation. Some of them consider looking at these narratives from a more political understanding of the ‘imprisoned self’ about society and power, while a few others explore how language mediates between the author’s ‘reflection’/ ‘realization’ of their self through deeply intense drives like those of melancholia, loss, and suffering or glimpses of transcendental joy that creates a deeper understanding of the ethereal and the personal.
The model of the prison has changed over the centuries. While in the European continent, prisons were directly an expression of the ‘will’ of the monarch, it had much to do with the relations of sovereignty and law. However, it is interesting to note that, as Thomas S Freeman points out in his “The Rise of Prison Literature,” prisons of the middle ages and early modernity were structural edifices that symbolized an offense against the divine through a violation of the ‘law’ of the monarch itself (the monarch being a representative of divinity on earth). The prisoner was, therefore, equivalent to the status of a heretic. Similar ideas can be found within Southern and Central Asiatic regions as well. With the rise of the liberal state, the prisoner was depicted as an ‘outlaw,’ an embodiment of violence and violation of the generic social imagination and to ‘social contract’ in particular. Michel Foucault, in his seminal The Birth of the Prison, delineates how the system of control and incarceration shifted in its objective and technique from the body and the ‘spectacle’ to the ‘mind’ and the need for ‘secrecy.’ Through a system, the prisoner's self is inevitably a part of political interpellation, marginality, and social gaze. These ideas, though sociological, become an integral part of the prisoner’s self in their understanding of society and their relation to it. Hence, the prisoner, in all personal experiences, is a political being.
As much as narratives from political prisoners, revolutionaries, and victims of racial, sexual, colonial, and economic conflicts have recorded intense moments which look at the ‘dissolution’ of the self under psychological crisis, there are instances that constructed a metaphysical idea of the ego of the prisoner that almost absorbed the world into a supernatural unity. These narratives, in their structure and intention, vary radically across symbols and semantics. This issue calls for papers that engage with language, experience, and the self (of the prisoner), study nuances of intention and expression, and explore the relation between a private subject under political scrutiny through prison narratives.
To contribute to this special issue, please submit the full manuscript of your article (no less than 4,000 words) with a short author’s bio to the guest editor Ayan Chakraborty at firstname.lastname@example.org, with a copy to email@example.com. You are welcome to ask any questions about submission or the topic you will select.
Submission deadline: 31st March 2023;
Decision of acceptance: 30th April 2023;
Publication of the issue: Autumn 2023/ Winter 2023.
ABOUT THE JOURNAL
The Journal of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics (ISSN: 0252-8169) is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal published by Vishvanatha Kaviraja Institute of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics, India, since 1977. The Institute was founded by Prof. Ananta Charan Sukla (1942-2020) on 22 August 1977, coinciding with the birth centenary of renowned philosopher, aesthetician, and historian of Indian art Ananda K. Coomaraswamy (1877-1947) to promote interdisciplinary studies and research in comparative literature, literary theory and criticism, aesthetics, philosophy, art history, criticism of the arts, and history of ideas. (Vishvanatha Kaviraja, most widely known for his masterpiece in aesthetics, Sahityadarpana, or the “Mirror of Composition,” was a prolific 14th-century Indian poet, scholar, aesthetician, and rhetorician.)
The Journal is committed to comparative and cross-cultural issues in literary understanding and interpretation, aesthetic theories, and conceptual analysis of art. It publishes current research papers, review essays, and special issues of critical interest and contemporary relevance.
The Journal has published the finest of essays by authors of global renown like René Wellek, Harold Osborne, John Hospers, John Fisher, Murray Krieger, Martin Bocco, Remo Ceserani, J.B. Vickery, Menachem Brinker, Milton Snoeyenbos, Mary Wiseman, Ronald Roblin, T.R. Martland, S.C. Sengupta, K.R.S. Iyengar, Charles Altieri, Martin Jay, Jonathan Culler, Richard Shusterman, Robert Kraut, Terry Diffey, T.R. Quigley, R.B. Palmer, Keith Keating, and many others.
JCLA is indexed and abstracted in the MLA International Bibliography, Master List of Periodicals (USA), Ulrich’s Directory of Periodicals, ERIH PLUS, The Philosopher’s Index (Philosopher’s Information Center), EBSCO, ProQuest (Arts Premium Collection, Art, Design & Architecture Collection, Arts & Humanities Database, Literature Online – Full Text Journals, ProQuest Central, ProQuest Central Essentials), Abstracts of English Studies, WorldCat Directory, ACLA, India Database, Gale (Cengage Learning), Bibliography History of Art (BHA), ArtBibliographies Modern (ABM), Literature Online (LION), Academic Resource Index, Book Review Index Plus, OCLC, Periodicals Index Online (PIO), Norwegian Register for Scientific Journals, Series and Publishers, CNKI, PhilPapers, Google Scholar, Expanded Academic ASAP, Indian Documentation Service, Publication Forum (JuFo), Summon, J-Gate, United States Library of Congress, New York Public Library, and the British Library. The journal is also indexed in numerous university (central) libraries, state, and public libraries, and scholarly organizations/ learned societies databases.
Celebrated scholars of the time like René Wellek, Harold Osborne, Mircea Eliade, Monroe Beardsley, John Hospers, John Fisher, Meyer Abrams, John Boulton, and many renowned foreign and Indian scholars were Members of its Editorial Board.
Founding Editor: Ananta Charan Sukla,Vishvanatha Kaviraja Institute, India