Call for Papers

Alluvium 9.4 Special Issue: World Literature and the Alter|native

Guest edited by Misbah Ahmed, Zahra Bazm Ara and Chris Griffin

Writing in 1992, Kamau Brathwaite coined his idea of the alter|native. Considering Shakespeare’s Caliban in The Tempest (c.1610), Brathwaite called for a re-conception of Caliban and the Caribbean that is ‘wider than Shakespeare’ (2).  By moving beyond the predominant narrativisation of the Caribbean’s history as a site of imperialist subjugation and mimicry, Brathwaite proposes we can create an alter|native narrative. These narratives can ‘alter the nature of our own inherited psychology and in doing so attempt to nativise […] something which has no native land’ (4).

Writing in the post-millennium, in a manner resonant with Brathwaite, Mark Fisher (2004) emphasises the importance of challenging the cultural inertia of the new century by getting out of your head ‘through your head’. By creating and ‘xploring’ the psychology, cultural forms, and aesthetics required to marshal the genesis of ‘the new’, Fisher poses how we could nativise a non-native future from the conditions of neoliberalism and imperialism, and, to quote Brathwaite (1993), out of ‘simple rebellion’ (4).

In this special issue, we ask contributors to consider World Literature as a field from which alter|native narratives of our past, present, and future can be articulated. In the spirit of Brathwaite, who sought to go ‘wider than Shakespeare’ (2), World Literature can address postcolonial concerns and go beyond the geo-political confines of single countries and regions. Just as Brathwaite advocates going beyond Shakespeare, World Literature also attempts to go beyond Anglo-centric literature, knowledge, and narratives, acknowledging disparities within the global circulation of culture and focussing on the marginalised (Mufti, 2016).

Fisher argues in Postcapitalist Desire (2021) that there is ‘no outside’ to our present and our escape must be through our current circumstances (194-195). World Literature’s attendance to the totalising nature of our present, the immanence of global communication, and the circulation of texts and peoples, allows it to identify the fault lines through which alter|native narratives and forms can emerge (Chambers & Pravinchandra 2018; WReC 2015).

We invite proposals that engage with World Literature’s capacity to trace alter|native narratives of issues past, present, and future; literatures that challenge staid diagnoses of the present and instead pose formally and aesthetically innovative alter|natives.

Topics to explore may include, but are not limited to:

  • Ecocriticism and Environmental Humanities.
  • Postcolonialism.
  • Multilingualism and the Anglosphere.
  • Text Circulation and Translation.
  • Sci-fi, Cli-fi, and Experimental Literature.
  • Literature and Non-continental Philosophy.
  • Decolonisation and Literature.
  • Contemporary Diasporic Narratives (inc. Asylum Seekers and Refugees).
  • Fuel and Food.
  • Resource Exploitation and Circulation (inc. Energy Futures, Hydropolitics).
  • Aesthetics and Politics.

If you are interested in contributing to this special issue, please send abstracts (max. 300  words) outlining your proposed article, and a brief bio with your research interests (max. 150 words), to issue editors Misbah Ahmed, Zahra Bazm Ara, and Chris Griffin ( The deadline for submitted proposals is Tuesday the 15th June 2021, and the deadline for articles for accepted proposals being Wednesday 14th July 2021. Articles must be 2000-2500 words in length. Please contact the editors with any further questions.

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