Literature, Activism, Human Values: Then and Now

deadline for submissions: 
February 15, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Current Writing: Text and Reception in Southern Africa (Taylor & Francis, Routledge)
contact email: 

Themed issue of Current Writing: Text and Reception in Southern Africa, Volume 36, Issue 2 (2024)

Link to the CFP:

Issue Editor

Goutam Karmakar, Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, GermanyUniversity of the Western Cape, South Africa


Literature, Activism, Human Values: Then and Now

Literature in South Africa of the 1970s and 1980s—both the creative work and the critical work – manifested what Louise Bethlehem described as a ‘rhetoric of urgency’. Forms of realistic and symbolic representation were often aligned, respectively, in evaluations of political responsibility and political irresponsibility. Nadine Gordimer’s anti-apartheid fiction, for example, was set in opposition to J. M. Coetzee’s metafictional critiques of authoritarian orders.

Questions arose in contestation. Had the demands of the time—the violent end-years of apartheid—curtailed the search for imaginative expression? Had the significance of the context superseded the significance of the literary text? Had the authority of experience, rather than its transformation into an art object, become the locus of power?

That was then. What of now? The demands of locality (embedded in Black Consciousness) gave way in the 1990s—at least in South African literary-academic circles—to a different, more indirect form of activism: the ‘deconstruction’ of French anti-humanism. Not the activism of the barricades but the activism of critique. Accordingly, Gordimer’s mimetic, anti-apartheid novels surrendered centre concern to Coetzee’s intricate metafictions.

The ‘theme’ of Current Writing 36(2) 2024, ‘Literature, Activism, and Human Values', invites contributions on the literary work and/or its interpretation to engage with the politics of power, whether in relation to the past, whether local or global, whether focused on race, gender, class, the environment, inequality, or precarity. The aims and objectives of this issue encompass social justice within the framework of bioregionalism and investigate the evolving culture of literary activism in response to diverse social, political, and global movements, as well as instances of injustice, the climate crisis, human rights violations, and the deterioration of human values.

This issue, therefore, seeks articles on literary and theoretical writings on contemporary world literature. The topics may include (but will not be limited to):

  • Literary activism and African literature
  • Asian literature and response to activism
  • Social Justice and human values in contemporary literature
  • Changing patterns of literary activism and new methods of reading
  • Critical thinking and community engagement in literary narratives
  • Critical humanism and transformative acts of reading literary texts
  • Activism, human values and indigenous literature
  • Pedagogy, classroom and literature as modes of educational and human values
  • Activism and visual representation (graphic novels and comics)
  • Literature, activism and bioregionalism

Submission Instructions

Abstracts should be around 500 words long (excluding bibliography and in accordance with the journal's referencing style i.e. the Chicago Manual of Style, 17th ed., author-date) and should be sent to the special issue editor, Goutam Karmakar (, with a copy to the Editor-in-Chief, Prof. Dr. Michael Chapman (, no later than February 15, 2024. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact the issue editor.

Full papers should be within 7,000 words in length (including an abstract and list of works cited) as per the author submission guidelines for Current Writing: Text and Reception in Southern Africa.

Submission of full manuscripts: June 15, 2024.

Expected publication date: Current Writing, Volume 36, Issue 2, 2024.