Call for Proposals: Articles on Contemporary Representations of Homelessness

We invite proposals for articles in our Autumn 2020 issue of Alluvium: Contemporary Representations of Homelessness

The deadline for abstracts is the 15th of September and we particularly welcome proposals from post-graduate researchers and early career researchers.

This issue will focus on confronting and representing homelessness in contemporary literature and culture. 

Homelessness implies exclusion, poverty, and exile. It can encompass rootlessness and marginalization in all their valences – from symbolic destitution and stark material deprivation to traversing the boundaries between homelessness, the homely, and the unheimlich. These various states of being relate to contemporary modes of citizenship, or often the lack thereof. The trauma of homelessness experienced as an ‘Event’ potentially brings to light longer-standing erosion of psychic and material settlements, the imaginary, symbolic and real.

In contrast to self-serving metaphors of homelessness, we ask contributors to consider the post-millennial rise in homelessness literature and culture as a means to amplify, reflect, and emphasise participation and exclusion from the discourses that surround homelessness.

The different phenomenologies of homelessness allow us to reflect upon it as a distinct form of vulnerability, inter-related with issues of post-war austerity, state welfare, immigration and refugeehood, climate crisis, and neoliberal capitalism. Under these critical lights, we can also consider homelessness as a mode of ‘precarity’, which Judith Butler describes as ‘the politically induced condition in which certain populations suffer from failing social and economic networks […] becoming differentially exposed to injury, violence, and death’.

The Covid-19 pandemic has spotlighted numerous social inequalities across societies and the repeated calls to ‘#StayAtHome and stay safe’, which cast the home as the only safe space to protect oneself against infection, have made thinking through the crisis of homelenessness an even more pertinent, if not urgent necessity. At the same time, the pandemic has revealed ego-ideal fantasies of immortality and resilience in the face of empirical evidence.

Different cultural representations of homelessness can affectively challenge us, providing various engagements with precarious lives and living conditions; these speak to the broader capabilities of storytelling and amplifying marginalised voices.

This issue of Alluvium asks contributors to consider:

What theories and methods of reading does literature about homelessness in all its valences demand?

Do certain cultural representations reinforce or challenge common perceptions and stereotypes of homelessness?

What forms of literature reflect the complexities of homelessness in such a way that we can talk about a genre of homelessness literature?

How can we understand literary homelessness, often inadequately understood as a form of literary wanderlust pursued in voluntary exile, in relation to the actual and lived experiences of homeless people and writers?

What language does literature provide to talk about homelessness, and what broader concepts of liberty, historical being and praxis as such potentially arise? 

What is it to be ill at ease, in terms of suffering and liberation, language, racial symbolization, class – and how can literary texts and their interpretations do justice to this unhomeliness?

Do literary representations capture the political interregnum – from government policies and policing strategies, to ethical journalism and charges of media voyeurism?

How can approaches to literary representations of the homeless complement and challenge social science approaches with regards to ‘social facts’ and ethico-political responsiveness?

Topics might include but are not limited to:

  • Immigration and refugee writing
  • Property rights and eviction
  • Imaginaries of homelessness, dominant and oppositional – mediated through literature
  • Relationships between hybrid genres/forms and representations of social subjectivity
  • Media depictions of migration in terms of otherness
  • Emergency accommodation and hostel life
  • Literature written in a second language
  • Exile and statelessness
  • The home and the unhomely/uncanny
  • Poverty and voyeurism
  • Forms of precarity
  • Homelessness across different media forms
  • Intersectional depictions of homelessness (gender, race, class, mental health, …)
  • (Impending) post-catastrophic homelessness (war, climate change, …)
  • Solastalgia and environmental notions of home and homelessness in relation to the social

If you are interested in contributing to this issue, please email an abstract (max 250 words) outlining your proposed article, and a short bio with your research interests to by the 15th of September 2020

The deadline for submission of articles will be the 17th of October and the issue will be published in November.

Alluvium is an open access journal featuring short essays of around 2000-2500 words on key issues and emerging trends in 21st century writing, culture and criticism. The journal publishes around six issues a year enabling vital current ideas to find a rapid readership.
In line with BACLS’s rolling definition of ‘the contemporary’, Alluvium assumes a fluid and hybrid understanding of the contemporary moment, rather than a specific periodisation. 

If you have questions or suggestions please contact  Alluvium  editors Martin Goodhead, Julia Ditter, or Liam Harrison via

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