Forms of Life, Forms of Death
Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies
Vol. 41 No. 1 | March 2015
"Forms of Life, Forms of Death"
In collaboration with Outis! Journal of (Post)European Philosophy
Deadline for Submission: June 30, 2014
Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies, indexed in the Arts & Humanities Citation Index, is a peer-reviewed journal published two times per year by the Department of English of National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan. The journal is devoted to offering innovative perspectives on literary and cultural issues and advancing the transcultural exchange of ideas. For the March 2015 issue, Concentric will co-publish a special issue on the theme "Forms of Life, Forms of Death" with Outis! Revue de philosophie (post)europénne, a European journal of political philosophy which publishes primarily in French and Italian and occasionally in English and Spanish . In this collaboration project, the two journals will each make its call for papers in accordance with its own editorial agenda, and will exchange articles (in translation in some cases) following the review process. The purpose is to tap into and share resources of each editorial team, and to open up dialogue between communities whose geopolitical, linguistic, and disciplinary differences may prove to be more superficial than substantial. Concentric invites submissions that address issues raised in this call for papers. Articles accepted by Concentric will appear in Concentric and may be selected to be published in Outis! upon the author's consent.
The inquiry into "life" that has dominated academic debates in recent years is to be sure a wide-ranging conversation. Neurobiologists and cognitive scientists propose to understand living systems in terms of autopoiesis; experts in biomedicine elucidate how genomic medicine, facilitated by visualization technologies, has come to configure life at the molecular level. Cultural anthropologists call for new methodological and ethical framings in response to emergent formations of life in the age of technoculture, whereas scholars writing on cybernetics and biomedia broach our cognitive, affective experiences in light of their relations with "ecologies" broadly defined. Studies of animals and inanimate matter have contributed to our rethinking of life in general and human life in particular beyond the bounds of epistemology. In political philosophy, theories of biopolitics examine shifts of modes of governance in terms ranging from the right to live, the right to die, to immunization, and to the Muselmann. Whatever the focus is, these engagements have taken life as anything but a given.
While we are sympathetic to this multidisciplinary scope, for this special issue we are particularly interested in foregrounding form as a humanistic proposition. Ludwig Wittgenstein quite early on has used the term "form of life," notwithstanding loosely, to describe our way of living and believing at play in our use of language. Giorgio Agamben, more recently, has put forth the hyphenated "form-of-life" to refute statist mechanisms' isolation of naked life as an area of political maneuvering: an ideal political life, according to him, is one where life is inseparable from its form. And thinkers like Gilles Deleuze have advanced pathbreaking formulations of life starkly distinct from the representational logic.
Amid the intensified interest in the question of life in theory, we would like to ponder how developments in sciences and technology bear on our conceptualization of form in literary and cultural studies today. How are we to reconsider, for instance, conceptual categories of form, medium, mediality, and structure? To what extent can embodiment and expression assume new meanings as they have been transcoded into technoscientific discourse? Some critics have invoked phenomenological models of perception and consciousness for the generation of media culture, and others seek to reinvent aesthetics to integrate the experience of virtuality. How can current interventions into these humanistic traditions reshape studies of literature and culture? Does representation still play a role in our forming of emotions and intellectuality, and in our political and ethical choices? More basically, how should we understand figure now, seeing the busy intersecting and even contagion of critical terms of different fields of knowledge?
Furthermore, how do we approach death in a time of threatened lives, of wars, catastrophes, new viruses and epidemic diseases? Is life a relative term vis-à-vis death? Are forms of life and forms of death mutually informing, or antinomic? Or are they to be considered in separate terms?
We invite critical reflections on form pertaining to life and/or death as a problematic that can help to recast terms of debate in the humanities today. We also welcome papers that work on forms of life and/or forms of death as thematics in literature, film, and art works.
For submissions or general inquiries, please contact us as follows:
Editor, Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies
Department of English
National Taiwan Normal University
162 Heping East Road, Section 1
Taipei 106, Taiwan