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Special Issue: Critical Theory at the Endgame

Organization: CAPAS
Categories: Postcolonial, Hispanic & Latino, Comparative, Gender & Sexuality, Literary Theory, Women's Studies, World Literatures, African & African Diasporas, Asian & Asian Diasporas, Australian Literature, Canadian Literature, Caribbean & Caribbean Diasporas, Indian Subcontinent, Eastern European, Mediterranean, Middle East, Native American, Scandinavian, Pacific Literature, Science, Miscellaneous
Event Date: 2024-11-01 to 2024-11-01 Abstract Due: 2024-11-01

Call for Papers Apocalyptica

Apocalyptica is an international, interdisciplinary, open-access, double-blind peer-reviewed academic journal published by the Käte Hamburger Centre for Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic Studies (CAPAS) at Heidelberg University.

Journal Editors: Robert Folger, Felicitas Loest, and Jenny Stümer

Special Issue editor: Bruna Della Torre

Article length: 8,000 - 9,000 words

Deadline: Year-round – 1 November, 2024 (for our next issue)

Contact: publications@capas.uni-heidelberg.de


Special Issue: Critical Theory at the Endgame


The destructive character knows only one word: to make room; and only one activity: to clear away. Its need for fresh air and open space is stronger than any hatred[.] But because it sees a way everywhere, it also has to do away with everywhere. Not always with brute force, sometimes in refined ways.

                                                Walter Benjamin, “The Destructive Character”, 1931


The survival of the world nowadays depends on an apocalyptic dialectics. It is necessary to destroy what exists and perpetuates itself as violence in manifold ways so that something new can emerge. From this perspective, the end of capitalism and its forms of production and reproduction is an invigorating horizon; the only one. But the apocalypse appears to be on the other, prehistoric side of history, a reified, naked apocalypse that is pure annihilation—no redemption or the Endzeit, in Günther Anders’s words—a wholesome present with no futurity, a time lost in its own static. To escape it, it is necessary to go beyond the superficial layers of the immediate.


The defence of this dialectic of the apocalypse is the central programme for Critical Theory and not only that of the Frankfurt School and those who claimed their heritage in Germany, or in the very centre of capitalism, but also in its peripheries. In this perspective, said dialectic manifests itself more than anything within the works of art that rear themselves as second worlds, excavate futures from the past, call the petrified temporality and social relations of our time by their own names, refuse to play a rigged game, and, in so doing, expand our imaginary powers. Critical Theory’s approach invites us to engage with the present through a historical lens and to understand how works of art not only reflect but also shape our collective consciousness. Thus, the Frankfurt School's legacy is more than merely an academic exercise but a direction without guidelines that encourages continuous reflection and praxis aimed at emancipatory change.


As Theodor W. Adorno states in Aesthetic Theory, “art today is scarcely conceivable except as a form of reaction that anticipates the apocalypse” (1970, 131). From Samuel Beckett’s Endgame to Ailton Krenak’s Ideas to Postpone the End of the World, from Oswald de Andrade antropofagia to Ursula Le Guin’s new worlds, from Lu Xun’s investigation of hunger to Aimé Cesáire’s political poetry and manifests, from Irmgard Keun’s feminist and proletarian apocalypse to Maria Carolina de Jesus’ favelas, from science fiction to realism, the Neue Sachlichkeit to the fantastic, literature to cinema, museums to the streets, art in the last century has explored the many facets of the apocalypse and the utopias that can be extracted from it informing critical theory in a broad sense, that is, enriching its tradition in the intersection with feminist perspectives, post-colonial, and peripheral viewpoints, queer approaches, and anti-racist imaginaries.


Is the apocalypse a meaningful topic for critical theory beyond its religious significance? What role does it play in modern philosophy from Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel to Karl Marx and his followers? Is it possible to demonstrate, through works of art, how apocalyptic and perhaps post-apocalyptic imaginaries help us excavate the past in search of a new future? On the other hand, how do literary and cinematic representations of apocalypse reinforce dominant cultural ideologies? What role do dystopian visions play in shaping the conservative political discourses of our historical context? Can apocalyptic literature and cinema be seen as an ideology of neoliberal capitalism?

Prospective contributions might examine the apocalypse concerning the following themes and media types (the list may serve as inspiration):

·       The Frankfurt School, Critical Theory, and the apocalypse

·       Poetry, drama, narrative, and music after the apocalypse: war and the crisis of culture

·       Technological advancements and science fiction

·       The apocalyptic imagery in social movements: the role of art and literature in activism

·       Gender and sexuality in apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic art

·       Culture industry and apocalypticism

·       Cinema and far-right depictions of the apocalypse

·       Perspectives on the apocalypse from the periphery

·       Economic crisis and apocalyptic representations: artistic reflections on capitalism

·       Literary and art criticism in extreme contexts

·       Scorched earth: representations of the environmental catastrophe in art and culture

·       The aesthetics of apocalypse: visual art, installations, and the representation of end times

Please submit your article by 1 November, 2024 to publications@capas.uni-heidelberg.de. Articles should be about 8,000 – 9,000 words long (including an abstract of 250 words, references, footnotes, etc). We also require a short author biography (50–70 words), and 3-5 keywords.  

All submissions must use author-date reference style, 12pt font, and at least 1.5 line spacing. Please check our style guide prior to submission.

For further information, please contact Bruna Della Torre or Michael Dunn at publications@capas.uni-heidelberg.de. 

More information about Apocalyptica: https://heiup.uni-heidelberg.de/journals/apocalyptica

Link: https://www.capas.uni-heidelberg.de/de/node/763



Bruna Della Torre