Memory, Amnesia, Commemoration
ELN (English Language Notes)
Fall 2019 (Duke University Press)
Editors: Ramesh Mallipeddi, University of Colorado Boulder and Cristobal Silva, Columbia University

This proposed special issue takes as its focus the topic of memory and its cognates, amnesia and commemoration. Memory has witnessed a remarkable efflorescence in the past few years, both in scholarly work in the humanities and in popular efforts to address the collective forgetting of traumatic pasts. While the interrelationship between history (the study of past events) and memory (the ways in which the past is remembered and accessed), and the role of institutions such as museums and monuments in memorialization have been staple topics of academic historiography, scholars in recent years have turned their attention to how catastrophes—colonization, slavery, war, genocide, and disease pandemics—impact memory, and how traumatic events are remembered by victims, survivors, and descendants. Indeed, as Didier Fassin and Richard Rechtman have recently argued, in modern societies, trauma—in its twin senses as a physical scar and metaphorical trace—is synonymous with the “tragic” insofar as the term marks a “new relationship to time and memory, to mourning and obligation, to misfortune and the misfortunate” (The Empire of Trauma, 277). No longer a diagnostic category confined to psychiatry and psychopathology, the language of trauma is being increasingly mobilized to speak of “the wounds of the past” in ongoing demands for recognition, reparations, and justice. 

We solicit essays addressing the place of memory, forgetting, and remembrance in what Fassin and Rechtman have called “the moral economy of contemporary societies.”  We invite scholars to reflect on the following questions, encouraging them to broach the topic in its broadest terms and from a range of methodological perspectives:

  • Although traumatic neurosis as a diagnostic category is internal to nineteenth-century psychoanalysis, cognitive disorders have a long pedigree. Historically, nostalgia and melancholy were emotional upheavals related to the workings of memory, caused, in turn, by social upheavals such as war and enforced migration. Indeed, melancholy and nostalgia were psychosomatic, deemed by contemporary physicians to be fatal. How do we understand pathologies of memory as they manifest in specific historical contexts, including Early American literature, Antebellum America, the eighteenth-century Atlantic world, and contemporary societies?
  • How do the temporalities and geographies of memory and amnesia shape the boundaries of specific fields, especially as they relate to studies of indigeneity?
  • In “The Site of Memory,” Toni Morrison locates the print origins of African American slave narratives in acts of self-recollection. Historically, autobiographies, memoirs, and elegies have been the privileged vehicles of remembrance for various marginalized groups. More recently, the genre of testimony has become the primary means of documenting the horrors of the Holocaust, of reversing the omissions and distortions of official history. How do individual memories in testimonies trouble and reconfigure public narratives? How do they undertake the project of mnemonic restitution?
  • Memories are not only individual but also communal. Through practices of mourning—funeral wakes, burial ceremonies, mortuary rites, and songs of commemoration—communities historically sought to make sense of loss, suffering, and death; to establish links between past and present; and to maintain continuity in the face of disruption. In this context, how do we understand memory as a historical practice?
  • What are the affinities and differences between historical practices surrounding grief-work and mourning, on the one hand, and more recent accounts of melancholy, developed in the wake of Freud and Benjamin, on the other?
  • Positing “historical injury” as constitutive of queer subjectivity, Heather Love has urged critics to resist the temptation to forget the dark and shameful moments of queer pasts, because to disavow “backward” feelings—nostalgia, shame, regret, loneliness, passivity, despair, and self-hatred—is to ignore “the ongoing suffering of those not borne up by the rising tide of gay normalization” (Feeling Backward, 10). In this context, what consequences does queer theory’s reconceptualization of temporality have for memory, amnesia, and commemoration?
  • The efforts of Jamaicans to secure legislative restitution for the descendants of former slaves and the UN’s call to redress historical wrongs conceptualize traumatic memory “as the incessance of injury” (Gregg Horowitz, “A Late Adventure of the Feelings,” 38). Moreover, as Jay Bernstein has recently argued, the idea that traumatic events are “suffered long after the inaugural event is over” enjoins us to grasp trauma as a moral rather than a psychoanalytic category (Torture and Dignity, 123). How do these recent developments offer opportunities for rethinking the place of memory as well as for reevaluating canonical theoretical formulations, including Derrida’s account of the politics of memory, inheritance, and generations in Specters of Marx; Avery Gordon’s reflections on “the lingering inheritance of racial slavery” in Ghostly Matters; and Cathy Caruth’s theorization of trauma, narrative, and history in Unclaimed Experience?

Papers are due July 31, 2018.  They can be of varying lengths, including position papers and longer research articles.  Please use Chicago Style formatting. Contact Ramesh Mallipeddi ( for more information.


ELN (English Language Notes) Spring/Summer 2019 (Duke University Press)
Editor: Laura Winkiel, University of Colorado Boulder

The Anthropocene era is one in which humans have become a major geological force on planet Earth.  This sobering reality has challenged those working in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences to alter fundamentally the ways in which they produce knowledge.  This special issue addresses one current of this work: oceanic studies.  This maritime turn, to some degree, is born of what Dipesh Chakrabarty calls the overlapping processes of globalization and global warming. In modern European history, the sea is both the “blank space” through which traders and explorers conquered and mapped the globe and a non-human actant, whose vast material presence is irreducible to human appropriation.  With the naming of the Anthropocene—and with its oceanic consequences (rising sea levels, melting ice, ocean acidification, unprecedented storms, and mass extinction events) human-centered history and the oceanic geological force have become irrevocably braided together.  The maritime turn asks us to consider the textualization of the waters—the submerged histories, aesthetics, and ontologies of “heavy waters” (DeLoughrey)—along with the altered temporal and spatial scales, geographies, and agencies of the nonhuman sea, and to imagine new ways of connecting the two.   This special issue is broadly construed as interrogating methods of “hydro-criticism,” including, but not limited to:

* Wet ontologies: how can “a world of flows, connections, liquidities, and becomings [serve as] a means by which the sea’s material and phenomenological distinctiveness can facilitate the reminagining and reenlivening of a world ever on the move”?  (Steinberg & Peters 248)  How can we rethink being and our relationality with the physical world and with other species?  How are we entangled with the sea in such as way as to alter how we understand our bodies and their porosity and fluidity?  How do we live within and among microorganisms, minerals, petro-chemicals, toxicities, radiation, and heavy metals on a continuum with the microbial sea?

* Entanglements: how do the maritime histories of the slave trade, inter-imperial empires, and illicit refugee transport allow for a hydro-criticism from below, from “in the wake” (Sharpe), or from an indigenous or marroonage perspective?  And in all of these, how can we think the fluidity of the sea as bearing directly upon the performative materialization of race, nationality, sexuality and gender (Tinsley)?

* Provincializing Europe: how have indigenous and other non-Western peoples understood their relations to the sea?  How can their worldviews allow for alternative ways of understanding our planetary connections?  How do the various ocean regionalisms, including the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean basin and rim challenge the notion of the sea as “blank space” and “waste”? How do they challenge European universalism and nationalism?   How do the oceanic connections of these regions forge alliances that can evade and challenge neo-colonialism?

* Long histories: how can hydro-criticism incorporate the long history of the ocean in a way that takes into account pre-historical and even pre-human histories?  How can other disciplines-- the natural sciences, speculative realist philosophy, anthropology, and the arts--guide us here? Can these disciplines help us to conceptualize deep time and shifting geo-physical forces that decenter the human?  How does deep time alter how we periodize and historicize modern and pre-modern human histories?

* Questions of sovereignty: The European early modern era codified the sea as extra-territorial space in which the state of exception prevails. What is the significance of the fraught history of freedom, slavery, and lawlessness that continues today through issues of piracy, illegal smuggling (of contraband, refugees, and human trafficking), and statelessness.  Conversely, what is the significance of contemporary water rights activism? (These struggles may include the recent granting of rights to the Whanganui River in New Zealand and to the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers in India, the ongoing advocacy on behalf of rivers, lakes, and oceans, and the protests against dams, oil pipelines, fracking, pesticides, and other environmental toxins that pollute waterways.)

* Shipwrecks and other sea-faring disasters: how can we read the long history of voyages, shipwrecks, storms and other meteorological events as illuminating our present crisis and ecological awareness?

* Literary form: how does attention to the sea as an actant alter representational forms?  Rather than attending to the chronotope of the ship or the adventure to produce a legible narrative, how does an attention to the sea’s “abyss of representation,” its “space of dispersion, conjunction, distribution, contingency, heterogeneity” (Boelhower, quoted in Blum) yield new ways of reading, writing (creatively and critically) and teaching? How does attention to the ship’s hold, the canoe, the pirogue, the passengers, and the crew alter narrative form?

* Problems of scale: studying the sea demands a rethinking of our most basic understandings of cartography. The sea underscores how the geophysical is “a series of interwoven and unpredictable dynamic forces . . . assembled matter [that] is nonlinear and fluctuating [. . . ] mutable and leaky—part of a process of ongoing reformation” (Steinberg and Peters).   How does this understanding of profound mutability at multiple scales affect our critical narratives and modes of representation?  How do embodiment, affect and our critical stance change as a result of our shifting relations to the sea

Papers are due March 1, 2018.  They can be of varying lengths, including position papers and longer research articles.  Please use Chicago Style formatting. Contact Laura Winkiel, for more information.


“Latinx Lives in Hemispheric Context”
ELN (English Language Notes) Spring/Summer 2018 (Duke University Press)
Editors: Maria A. Windell, University of Colorado Boulder and Jesse Alemán, University of New Mexico

This special issue of ELN (English Language Notes) invites submissions that reflect upon the ways in which Latinx lives, both historical and contemporary, serve as a point of intersection between Latinx, Ethnic, and hemispheric studies. But how exactly do latinidad and the hemispheric relate to one another? How does Latinx Studies intersect with other fields, such as Atlantic Studies, that also constitute hemispheric, transamerican, or inter-American scholarship? Latinx expressive cultures—everything from poetry to graphic art to music to theater—offer different understandings of how the Latinx and hemispheric intersect. We are thus interested in contributions that explore how Latinx expressive cultures and their audiences circulate freely, haphazardly, fleetingly, or deliberately across the Americas. We welcome contributions on a broad range of topics including but not limited to:

  • Archives
  • Diaspora
  • Hemispheric geographies
  • Indigeneity, Afro-Latinidades, Creoles
  • Race, gender, sexuality
  • Circulation, mobility, fugitivity
  • Migration, immigration, exile, sanctuary
  • Textual histories and print culture practices
  • Spanish-language readers and communities
  • Greater Mexico, Global South, and the “Hemispheric Turn”
  • Rethinking canons/archives defined by authorial identity
  • The impact of the Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage project

Essays of twenty to twenty-five manuscript pages are invited from scholars in all fields.

Essays will be reviewed by external readers. All submissions should adhere to the Chicago-style endnote citation format. Please submit double-spaced, 12-point font, .docx files and submissions to our Editorial Manager site: email to both special issue editors ( and Please omit identifying information from all pages except the cover page, as we use a blind review process.  Please send inquiries regarding this issue to the editors.

The deadline for submissions is August 1, 2017.

A refereed journal housed in the University of Colorado Boulder English Department, ELN has been dedicated to pushing the boundaries of scholarship in literary and cultural studies since 1962. More recently, as this issue suggests, the journal has actively promoted new theoretical speculation and interdisciplinary collaborations crossing geographies, histories and practices. Published bi-annually, the journal is moving to Duke University Press and its digital platform, along with Project Muse, beginning in Spring 2018. This special issue will be the first to appear under the Duke UP imprint.

Special Issue, Latinx Lives in Hemispheric Context”
English Language Notes
University of Colorado at Boulder
226 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309-0226