CFP: “Contemporary Literature and/as Archive”

This call for papers is for a special issue of the journal  LIT: Literature Interpretation Theory on the theme of “Contemporary Literature and/as Archive”. 

Questions relating to this cfp can be directed to both guest editors, Tom Chadwick ( and Pieter Vermeulen (

Recent technological and environmental developments have complicated literature’s role as a repository of the past and as the site for the recovery of forgotten voices. In an age of ubiquitous computing and Big Data, digital practices of instantaneous archiving produce the present as much as they record the past. Such technological developments resonate with ecological changes: under the rubric of the Anthropocene, the whole Earth has become an archive of human action; and in the context of the so-called “Sixth Extinction,” many life forms threaten to be obliterated and to only survive in archives. The result of technological acceleration and ecological threat has been a sense of “archive fever” in which we manically record forms of life in the face of their obsolescence.

This special issue welcomes contributions that explore the altered relation between contemporary literature and the archive. Authors are invited to build on recent theoretical reflections on the archive, and on more practical engagements with the archive through new digital methods and the so-called “archival turn” in the humanities and the arts. How do new theories of archives alter the way we understand the relationship between literature and the archive?  How do contemporary writers imagine literature’s relation to competing practices of data management? To what extent does the emergence of all-encompassing digital archives affect literature’s engagement with the past? And can a rethinking of archives and databases shed light on recent and ongoing literary developments?

Archive table

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

§  the altered scales of the archive (digital, geological)

§  fictions of extinction (human, nonhuman)

§  archival genres (database, elegy, epic)

§  poetic archives (Goldsmith, Rankine)

§  archiving and curatorship

§  literature as an “encyclopedic” archiving of life (Saint-Amour)

§  the memoir as self-archiving practice (Heti, Knausgaard, Lerner)

§  literary writing and/as geological inscription

§  reading literature as data, reading literature against data

§  literature and other archival media (film, photography)

Submissions must use MLA citation style and should be between 5,000-9,000 words (including notes and works cited).

Submissions should be emailed to by 31 December 2018.

Please include your contact information and a 100-200 word abstract in the body of your email.

LIT: Literature Interpretation Theory is edited by Dwight Codr and Tara Harney-Mahajan.