Bristol Journal of English Studies, Issue 5, Rebirth

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Bristol Journal of English Studies

Bristol Journal Of English Studies call for submissions
Issue 5, Autumn 2014

Whether understood literally or symbolically, narratives of rebirth are a staple of myriad cultures and societies. Some rebirths can be dramatic, instantaneous, and we can see these kinds of transfigurations in, for example, Ovid's Metamorphosis. Or, rebirth could perhaps be an ongoing, glacially-slow process, such as the perpetually provisional rebirths of Darwinian evolutionary theory: over time, for example, a microbe can become Picasso, but does the length of time preclude the possibility of this being seen as the rebirth of the microbe? Each day, even, could be seen as re-awakening and rebirth, after the shut-down of foetal-sleep; does memory preserve and make continuous our identity, as it did for John Locke, or has something fundamental changed overnight?
Religious and mythic texts, perhaps viewing rebirth in more spiritual terms, emphasise the proximity of rebirth to the divine and through which a spiritual transfiguration (and, less frequently, a physical transformation) may take place; in the Christian Bible, Christ undergoes both a moment of transfiguration and a resurrection; in Egyptian mythology, the creation myth perpetuates a kind of rebirth, in which the gods transform themselves into the material universe. In a more modern, secular culture, talk of rebirth often hinges on more tangible ideas of refreshment or renewal; in pop culture, for instance, an artistic rebirth allows a performer to distance themselves from a past (a scandal, an identity, a rather lack-lustre album) while simultaneously indicating their creative reinvigoration – whether for personal or commercial reasons. Revivals (of critical theories, of artistic or cinematic movements, of musical or fashion trends...) allow a group of individuals to participate collectively in a conscious resurrection of a particular phenomenon. To what extent is this a rebirth? What is the purpose (socially, culturally or psychologically) of rebirth? What remains of spiritual and theological notions of reincarnation and regeneration in modern narratives of rebirth? Are rebirths necessarily always positive? Is it even possible to be properly reborn?
The Bristol Journal of English Studies invites proposals for articles that aim to explore any number of these questions, in connection with any era or genre of literature, film, art, music or culture more broadly. Areas for consideration might be (though not limited to):

- Transformation; metamorphosis; transition; reincarnation; transfiguration.
- Religious figurations of rebirth; Messianic rebirths; resurrection; notions of being 'born again', Christian or otherwise.
- Identity and rebirth; the extent to which identity is or is not continuous; the adoption of new identities, conscious or otherwise; what stays the same, what changes?
- Psychoanalytical conceptions of rebirth; Jungian narratives of rebirth, Symbols of Transformation.
- The subversion or negation of death; death as a transient phenomenon.
- Becoming undead as a form or perversion of rebirth; the exploration of these themes in the literature of the gothic.
- Textual rebirth; whether or not re-writing, adaptation and even re-reading constitute the 'rebirth' of a text.
- Consumerism and rebranding; the illusion that something is either 'fresh' or 'new' through corporate marketing strategies; the alienation of audience through rebranding.

The editors seek 250 word proposals on the topic of rebirth, for 5,000-7,000 word articles or essays of up to 5,000 words. For guidance on this please see the attached Submissions Guidelines. Proposals should be sent, with 5-10 keywords, to before 25th April 2014. Decisions will be made and communicated to authors by May 2nd, and completed articles will be due on June 2nd for publication in autumn 2014.

Please note that all articles and abstracts for consideration must follow the MHRA style guide.