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December 1997, Week 2


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"Michael A. Arnzen" <[log in to unmask]>
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Tue, 9 Dec 1997 12:52:02 -0800
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see Paradoxa's new website:
Call for Papers
Metafictions: Literature as Criticism/Criticism as Literature
No generic boundary is more firmly policed than that which separates
creative from critical texts.  Champions of the "literary" often see
criticism as a dull, secondary, or even parasitical activity.  In
response, many critics affirm their seriousness by restricting
themselves to the drabbest sort of scientific or philosophical
discourse.   Paradoxa  is seeking submissions for a special issue
dealing with texts that transgress this boundary from either
direction.  We are interested in essays that examine both creative
approaches to critical discourse and critical statements in the guise
of fictional or other art.
The most famous instance of such border-raiding is Jorge Luis
Borges' "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote," which is
structured like a critical essay, read as a work of fiction, and
generally agreed to function on a metafictional level as a
statement about the nature of literature.  Such recursiveness is
common among writers associated with postmodernism, such as Italo
Calvino, Tom Stoppard, John Barth, Kathy Acker, and Salman Rushdie;
these figures, however, may represent only the most recent expression
of a much older impulse.  It is not so easy to find critical essays
that cross the line, but a few writers have experimented with
incorporating narrative, poetic language, or multiple voices into
traditional expository prose.  Examples might include Julia Kristeva,
Jacques Lacan, Jean Baudrillard, Ursula K. Le Guin, Joanna Russ, and
Samuel R. Delany.   In a very different format, Scott McCloud's
Understanding Comics investigates the properties of the comic book by
being one.
Some issues that might be addressed include audience, venue, and
authorship.  Many of the examples cited above are fiction
writers: do they have more latitude than writers from the academy or
is this a way of entering the critical world through the back door? Is
 PMLA  less open to blended or experimental discourse than  The New
Yorker  for intellectual or pragmatic reasons? Is the Anglo-American
tradition less open to experimentation than, say, the French or
Italian or Latin American?  Does it make a difference if one's
discipline is philosophy or psychology rather than literature?  Are
there particular critical stances that can best be expressed in forms
other than the impersonal analyticial essay?  Does metafiction depend
upon the sort of intertextuality analyzed by Linda Hutcheon in
Narcissistic Narrative , and does such intertexuality always extend to
critical as well as literary horizons?  Are there instances when the
reader makes choices that either transform a narrative into a
statement about literary art or not?  Earlier generations of critics,
from Pope to Amy Lowell, frequently turned to verse or prose
narratives to issue critical statements: why did such critical fables
go out of favor and are they back in vogue?
We invite submissions on these or related issues.  The subject
matter may include metafictional films, plays, hypertexts, bandes
desinees, and children's literature, as well as novels and short
stories; likewise, it may include non-canonical as well as
traditionally "literary" texts.  We will consider offerings that
themselves cross generic or discursive boundaries.
Guest Editor for the special is Brian Attebery, Idaho State
University, Pocatello, ID 83209-0009. Email: [log in to unmask]
Deadline for submissions is April 15, 1998.  Send 3 copies, each with
an abstract of not more than 300 words on a separate page to:
PO Box 2237
Vashon Island, WA  98070
tel: (206) 567-4373
fax: (206) 567-5711
email: [log in to unmask]
 Paradoxa  (3x/yr) publishes scholarly articles and interviews with
creative writers that are related to popular literary genres: science
fiction, fantasy, horror, children's literature, comic studies,
westerns, graphic novels, romance, and others.
   Michael A. Arnzen * Dept. of English * University of Oregon
     "We use up too much artistry in our dreams --
      and therefore often are impoverished during the day."
                                               -- Nietzsche
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