New Perspectives on Cormac McCarthy: Encountering The Passenger and Stella Maris

deadline for submissions: 
March 1, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Jonathan Elmore and Rick Elmore

New Perspectives on Cormac McCarthy: Encountering The Passenger and Stella Maris 

Edited by Jonathan Elmore and Rick Elmore

Sixteen years after The Road, Cormac McCarthy has published not one but two new novels in the last year: The long-awaited The Passenger and the short novel, Stella Maris. While both works embody McCarthy’s distinctive style and voice and continue his career-long exploration of the meaning of human existence and the nature of reality, they also mark a distinct departure from McCarthy’s previous work. Both texts are set neither in the Appalachian Mountains nor the southwestern deserts of America and Mexico but in Louisiana, Wisconsin, and to a lesser degree Spain. They are, quite remarkably, devoid of physical violence, the few deaths that occur happening entirely off camera. In Stella Maris, McCarthy introduces his first fully-fledged female protagonist, in the figure of Alicia Western, and The Passenger marks McCarthy’s first sojourn into the crime novel genre. In addition, one sees in these novels the impact of McCarthy’s time at the Santa Fe Institute, mathematics, physics, topos theory, and quantum mechanics at the heart of the metaphysical and philosophical concerns of both books. While it is perhaps too early to proclaim a turn to the midwest in McCarthy’s work, these novels nonetheless mark a new era in McCarthy scholarship, one that will no doubt reshape our understanding of his work and project in important ways. Hence, the aim of this volume is to collect initial studies of The Passenger and Stella Maris in order to lay the groundwork for assessing the impact of these novels on our understanding of McCarthy’s life and work.    

We invite papers that offer initial analyses of the new novels and speculate on how these novels continue, augment, alter, and depart from McCarthy’s previous work. While scholarship on the new novels themselves has by in large yet to appear, all submissions should reflect an awareness of and engagement with the current state of McCarthy Studies. Given the emphasis of this volume on breaking new ground, we welcome speculative provocations and approaches. Possible chapter topics could include but are not limited to:

  • Math, physics, and quantum mechanics

  • Themes of Identity and Gender

  • Madness, mental health, and treatment

  • New analyses of formal elements and conventions

  • Family, friendship, love, and ancestry

  • Moral and ethical commitments

  • American history and its aftermaths

  • Metaphysical and theological readings

  • Geopolitical elements and commentary

  • Criminality, law, and punishment

  • Economic, anti/late/post-capitalist elements

  • Industrialism and post-industrialism

  • McCarthy and philosophy

Authors should send a 300-500 word abstract and brief CV to Jonathan Elmore ( and Rick Elmore ( Inquiries welcome. Final chapter manuscripts should be between 6000-8000 words. 


Tentative timeline for this project:

Abstracts due: March 1st, 2023

Authors notified of acceptance: March 15th, 2023

Full chapters due: August 1st, 2023