UPDATE: Call for Papers
The Avant-Garde as Critical Practice
Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture
Extended Deadline: 15 December 2008 (full submissions only)
In this special issue, we are looking for contributions that acknowledge the legacies of various avant-garde movements as they have affected the genre known, for better or worse, as "criticism." From Walter Benjamin's use of montage effects in The Arcades Project, to Roland Barthes' radical experiments with form in his post-semiotic work, to Jacques Derrida's exploration of a "science of chance" in his use of the signature in works like Glas and Signsponge, there has been an ongoing, if intermittent, tradition of exploring the idea that the historical avant-garde's interest in art as a form of knowledge and research, its dedication to using methods whose outcomes are unpredictable in advance (Surrealist games, Oulipian constraints), its openness to the utopian potentials of new communications technologies (particularly photography and cinema), all have the potential to not only become an object of criticism, but to challenge the very division between artistic production and critical discourse. Likewise, artists have responded to the demands of criticism in their own right by transforming them into manifestos and artist's statements which challenge genre on a textual level, by creating hybrid forms such as the essay film, and by making use of both language and image in the forms of video art, installations, and a proliferation of cyber-art genres.
This special issue of Reconstruction seeks to engage this tradition and its proliferations both geographical (where else has the avant-garde destabilized the binary between art and criticism) and conceptual (the combinations of "theory" and art in Language poetry, feminist explorations of autobiographical inquiry as a research strategy, to name just two prominent examples) on the level of practice. While there has been much discussion of how various philosophers and cultural critics have broken the frames of their respective disciplines, academia has been relatively slow to take their experiments seriously enough to allow a proliferation of such research practices and potential variants. With a few notable exceptions, the Enlightenment binary between "knowledge" and "art" has held fast.
We therefore invite submissions that engage the legacies of the "critical avant-garde" on the level of practice, that are willing to take chances with genre. Submissions that combine text and image in new ways are especially welcome from both "artists" and "critics," as are contributions that take seriously the possibilities that come with combining poetic, expository, and narrative modes of discourse. We are looking for art that is critical, criticism that is revelatory, caprice that is methodical and method that is "more or less capricious." Since this special issue seeks to encourage the critical avant-garde on the level of performance, there are no constraints as to subject matter. The "objects" of criticism may come from any discipline or, as Gregory Ulmer has encouraged, the "object" of criticism itself may be put into question.
Please send completed essays, multimedial performances, etc. to Alan Clinton (alanclinton_at_earthlink.net) and John Sundholm (john.sundholm_at_kau.se) by December 15, 2008. Publication is expected in the second quarter of 2009.
Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture (ISSN: 1547-4348) is an innovative online cultural studies journal dedicated to fostering an intellectual community composed of scholars and their audience, granting them all the ability to share thoughts and opinions on the most important and influential work in contemporary interdisciplinary studies. Reconstruction publishes one open issue and three themed issues quarterly. Reconstruction is indexed in the MLA International Bibliography.
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