CfP: Special Issue: “Phenomenology and Literature” – Phainomenon

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Phainomenon, Journal of Phenomenological Philosophy, has a new call for papers asking ‘Does phenomenology have anything to say about literature?’.

Journal of Phenomenological Philosophy

Phenomenology and Literature


Does phenomenology have anything to say about literature?

Considering what is usually known about the 20th century phenomenological tradition, it seems perfectly legitimate to raise such a question. After all, the founder of the phenomenological movement himself, Edmund Husserl, apart from a few remarks and suggestions dropped here and there in the midst of the thousands of lines of his work, did not offer any systematical survey of the phenomenon of literature. Additionally, Heidegger, in Being and Time—a book of which it would not be exaggerated to say it has inspired successive generations of phenomenologists—did not seem to be naturally inclined to talk about it. And it is striking that, even after Being and Time, Heidegger ends up dealing with literature (as poetry) precisely at the moment he decides to leave all phenomenology behind him. If this is true, then it turns out that, according to Heidegger, to see the connexion between philosophy and literature (or poetry) involves – or goes hand in hand with – transcending phenomenology.

That being said, it is also true that many later phenomenologists did talk about literature within a phenomenological framework. This applies for instance to Sartre’s What is Literature?; to Ricoeur’s phenomenological hermeneutics of literature in Time and Narrative; to Iser’s phenomenology of reading in Der Akt des Lesens; to Ingarden’s attempt, inspired by Husserl, of developing a Ontology of the Literary Work of Art; or to Bachelard’s phenomenology of the imaginary in Poetics of Space. And if we further extend the meaning of phenomenology so as to include all of those who, though they do not present themselves explicitly as phenomenologists, were inspired by Husserl or Heidegger, the range of authors to be considered will drastically increase: from Foucault’s Les Mots et les Choses; to Deleuze’s Proust et les signes or Kafka; via Goldman’s Le Dieu Caché; Derrida’s Marges de la philosophie, to mention just a few.

At this point, new questions arise: why do these philosophers, whose projects are “phenomenological” in the strong or in the looser sense of the word, intend to talk about literature? Why should it be important for them and what do they have to say about it? Should we think of these different phenomenologies of literature as ultimately irreconcilable approaches, or do they (or at least some of them) share family resemblances?

The first 2021 issue of Phainomenon aims at dealing with these different questions. It thus wishes to contribute to the development of a systematic history of the phenomenology of literature, as well as to offer a first glimpse of how phenomenology proceeds when it comes to literature, considered as a “phenomenon of phenomenology”.

Call for paper’s deadline for the submission of manuscripts: March 30, 2021
Notification of acceptance, conditional acceptance, or rejection: May 30, 2021.
Deadline for the submission of the final draft: June 30, 2021.

For the full CfP, author guidelines, and submission details, see the Phainomenon announcement.