ceramic sculpture of six medical masks hanging in a row on wooden pegs
Pandemic! COVID-19 and Literary Studies

What does the study of literature bring to our understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic? In this ELN issue the contributors reflect on and seek to make sense of one of the most disorienting and tragic phenomena of our lives. Much has been written about the pandemic from a scientific point of view, but as scholars of language and literature, the contributors investigate the meaning that literature and culture can add to our evolving understanding of the profoundly human dimensions of a crisis that has taken millions of lives and caused lasting physical, emotional, and psychological damage to millions more. The issue examines new literary narratives and frames them in relation to the longer history of cultural responses to the influenza pandemic of 1918-20, the outbreak of HIV/AIDS in the 1980s and of SARS in 2002-4, and other public health crises. It explores narratives of environmental collapse and engages with scientific data, public health issues, and national and global policy making. Finally, it addresses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on literary studies in the academy.

a woman and two mannequins in a clothing atelier
Fashion’s Borders

This issue takes up the complex relationship between clothing and place and examines the transcultural flow of styles, materials, garments, and accessories within and across national borders. With essays on topics that range from the global clothing chain in Mauritius to the significance of Emily Dickinson’s shawl, the issue seeks to illustrate how fashions are culturally redefined when they travel and what role the circulation of sartorial objects plays across historical periods, disciplines, and cultural traditions.

Painting of man with absinthe glass by Picasso

Addiction is at the forefront of global conversations on biopolitics, yet its history is only beginning to be uncovered. This special issue investigates addiction’s long history and offers new approaches to understanding this familiar phenomenon. Scholars from a variety of elds, including literary studies, history, philosophy, and medicine, reassess what counts as addiction and where we might nd it: addiction can be an expression of devotion, a form of authorial inspiration, or a prejudicial phenomenon, particularly targeting racialized groups through imperial and settler colonial policies on drug use.

Surreal painting of man and creatures mid-air
Trauma and Horror

The genre of horror specializes in hyperbolic scenarios of human subjects in the throes of excruciating physical and psychic pain and develops these scenarios by means of phantasmic images and hallucinatory narrative sequences. Thus horror can be said to generate perversely accurate representations of traumatic events and of the aftermath of dynamically unpredictable symptoms that torment traumatized subjects. Also perversely, horror is a genre that invites its reader or spectator into a pleasurable relationship with trauma, offering up trauma as a compelling spectacle to be consumed and even enjoyed. This special issue explores horror’s strategies for representing personal and historical trauma, horror’s ability (or failure, or refusal) to abreact trauma, and the paradoxical appeal of a popular genre devoted to the unpleasure of shock, violence, and psychic disorientation.

Portrait photograph of Claude McKay in profile
Transhistoricizing Claude McKay’s Romance in Marseille

When Claude McKay’s abandoned novel Romance in Marseille (1929–33) was rst published by Penguin Classics in 2020, reviews across popular media praised the new-old text as one that resonated with both the present moment and the hundred-year-old era of the New Negro. Romance arrived as an “instant classic,” as one reviewer put it: both a benchmark of the Harlem Renaissance and, because of its exceptional inclusivity, a fresh statement that could have been written for woke twenty- rst-century readers. Dedicated to transhistoricizing the novelty as well as the familiarity of Romance, this special issue offers pioneering and theoretically fertile readings of the novel from scholars working in a wide range of critical areas.

vibrant sunset behind mountain range, reflected in water
Indigenous Futures and Medieval Pasts

This special issue responds to the recent turn toward indigeneity in medieval studies. It advocates for a slower approach to this turn—one that considers the conditions in which it is possible to imagine not an intersection but a kinship between these two disciplines. Speci cally, this issue seeks to create a space of mutuality in which generative conversations can take place across disciplinary boundaries between Indigenous and medieval studies, as well as Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars. This issue presents a cross section of work, mostly from medievalists, intended to be read by medievalists and Indigenous studies scholars alike. It is our hope that by eschewing staunch disciplinarity in favor of wider accessibility, this collection will create space for medievalists and Indigenous studies scholars to ask themselves what they have to offer one another in their mutual struggles to imagine anticolonial futures.

Brightly illustrated birds walk in a line across a dark background
Indigenous Narratives of Territory and Creation: Hemispheric Perspectives

This special issue is devoted to studying narratives of creation and territorial origin as they are told and transmitted in Indigenous languages and con ictive settings of the Americas. It advocates for the revitalization and revaluation of Indigenous languages, not merely for linguistic purposes but also with an epistemological and political emphasis, in that these languages are vehicles of different worldviews and forms of knowledge that propose alternatives to Western epistemologies. Symbolic territory and land reclamation are the focus of much Indigenous activism in the Americas. This issue explores Indigenous narratives that provide legitimacy to and a foundation for this political practice. At the same time, it nds the ways in which these narratives are spread continentally, in speci c contexts and beyond national histories. This issue comparatively studies narratives of territory and creation of Indigenous communities that were and are constantly displaced and seeks to understand the diasporic meaning of these narratives in the context of the struggle for land.

A respected forum of criticism and scholarship in literary and cultural studies since 1962, the recent incarnation of English Language Notes – ELN – is dedicated to pushing the edge of scholarship in literature and related fields in new directions. Broadening its reach geographically and transhistorically, ELN’s semi-annual issues provide a wide-ranging print and digital forum of topical clusters, roundtable debates, artistic collaborations, reviews, and traditional scholarly essays.


We are not accepting unsolicited submissions at this time. 

Forthcoming Issues
  • Kashmiri Futures
    61.2, Fall 2023
    Deepti Misri, Ather Zia, and Mohamad Junaid, Special Issue Editors