Penn State University


Special Issues

Ecocriticism in East Asia: Toward a Literary (Re) construction Of Nature and Environment

Guest Editor: Ning Wang
Zhiyuan Chair Professor of Humanities at Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Changjiang Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature and Director of the Center for Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies at Tsinghua University

In the past three decades, China as well as other East Asian countries have made tremendous achievements in its economic development, thus changing the country from the “Sick Man of East Asia” into an economically and politically strong power. But in building up its material, cultural and technological civilization, China has recently started to pay considerable attention to the need to build up another civilization: eco-civilization.

In other words, people have realized that in wildly developing its economy and unrealistically increasing its GDP, China and other Asian countries have exhausted their natural resources, sacrificed their natural environments and greatly upset their ecological balance. As literary and humanities scholars, we are particularly sensitive to this changing environment and ecological balance. We could not but raise the question: should China continue to neglect building up eco-civilization after achieving such an economic success? Obviously, the answer should be negative. But what are the available ways to build up such an eco-civilization? This question structures the topics we will deal with in this special issue from a literary perspective.

Ecocriticism, rising as a critical discourse and theoretical approach to literary phenomena, functions as one of the responses from literary criticism to the various consequences caused by capitalist modernity. For it has been a tradition both in the West and in the East for literature to deal with the relations between man and nature. Faced with the pollution of both natural and cultural environment, as well as the commercializing trends and the destruction of ecological balance, literary and humanities scholars could not but reflect on these issues: What is wrong with our environment? Why has the relationship between man and nature become so intensified? What strategies shall we humanities scholars and literary critics adopt toward these phenomena? All the above questions should be engaged with great concern by eco-critics and by all other humanities scholars.

Contributors to this special issue are invited to deal with either ecological issues from an eco-critical, theoretical perspective or analyze certain literary works from an eco-critical perspective in an attempt to contribute to the global eco-critical movement with unique East Asian literary and critical wisdom and experiences.

Submissions protocol: The guest editor invites complete papers and brief bios by 28 February 2018. Please send to Those selected from this pool will be invited to submit their manuscripts by creating an account on Editorial Manager, where you must register before uploading your submission. Please select "special issue article" for the article type. Individual articles should contain 6,500-7,000 words and should conform to the journal's style guide.

Issue timeline: All first drafts should be submitted to the guest editor no later than 28 February 2018. Final drafts will be due no later than 30 April 2018. The issue will appear in November 2018.

Global Crises and 21st-Century World Literature

Guest Editors:Dr. Dan Hansong (Nanjing University) and Dr. Ewa Wojno-Owczarska (University of Warsaw)

Crisis and world literature have gone hand in hand in a variety of ways since the concept was first formulated. The scattered remarks of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe that call world literature into being make it an orphan of generalized crisis: "all the nations that had been flung together by frightful wars and had then settled down again became aware of having imbibed much that was foreign, and conscious of spiritual needs hitherto unknown" (Introduction to the Life of Schiller). It is no coincidence that the next big published statement on world literature came in the crisis year of 1848, when Marx and Engels wrote in the Manifesto of the Communist Party that under the forces of global capital "The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature."

World literature, in other words, arises through the same processes of globalization that also amplify local problems to the level of global crises. From epidemics to sports scams and scandals, climate change to species extinction, financial crashes to terrorism, world literature reflects, intervenes in, and is shaped by these crises. This special issue will examine the intersection between global crisis and world literature, addressing issues such as scale, perspective, language, and whether world literature is itself a crisis mode of cultural production.

Submissions protocol: The guest editors invite abstracts of 250 words for issue by 31 July 2017 to either Dr. Ewa Wojno-Owczarska ( or Dr. Dan Hansong ( Authors will then be notified to submit completed papers by 31 October 2017, for publication in May 2018. Those selected from this pool will be invited to submit their manuscripts by creating an account on Editorial Manager, where you must register before uploading your submission. Please select "special issue article" for the article type. Individual articles should contain 6,000-8,000 words and should conform to the journal's style guide.

Submissions deadlines: July 31, 2017 for abstracts and CVs; October 31, 2017 for completed papers
Issue to be published in May 2018


Cross-Cultural Reading

Guest Editors: Yehong Zhang (Tsinghua University, China) and Gerhard Lauer (University of Göttingen, Germany)

It is often stated that language and culture shape the way we think. Over the past decades, various research fields from postcolonial studies through cross-cultural psychology have studied in great detail the extent to which culturally driven values and perspectives affect the way we see the world. However, relatively little has been done to investigate how participants in different cultures read differently. For example, when processing the “same” texts, do readers from Asian cultural backgrounds understand them in ways different from Westerners, and if so, to what extent do readers’ comprehension and valuation of topics, characters, and plots vary in different cultural environments? Do cultural reading habits really exist, or is it simply that reading has no cultural boundaries in the digital age? Besides general claims on reading “between” cultures, and despite the burgeoning scholarship on and theorization of translation and of world literature, literary studies still have only a limited understanding of what cultural difference in reading style really means. In sum, cross-cultural study on literature reading is still a less travelled road.

We invite papers for a special issue of Comparative Literature Studies that focus on how culture shapes the stories that we share and read. Cross-cultural studies are able to provide empirical findings for questions such as whether the so-called “collective culture” handles literature differently than the so-called “individualistic culture”. Insights from critical theories on culture, arguments from cognitive foundation of reading as well as findings from empirical studies on culture and reading are welcome. We think about answers on questions: What are the disparities when a book by e.g. Salman Rushdie is read in the Marathi-speaking world in comparison to the English speaking world? Does a Chinese fairy tale have different implications than a fairy tale shared in the Western culture? Are characters, time, and places of the same story differently understood between cultures? The purpose of this special issue is to encourage research on these and similar questions of cross-cultural literary studies.

Submissions protocol: Please submit a 500-word abstract along with CV before July 31, 2016 to the guest editors, Professor Yehong Zhang, at and Professor Gerhard Lauer, at Those selected from this pool will be invited to submit their manuscripts by creating an account on Editorial Manager, where you must register before uploading your submission. Please select "special issue article" for the article type. Individual articles should contain 6,000-8,000 words and should conform to the journal's style guide. Completed manuscripts will be due by January 31, 2017.

Submissions deadlines: July 31, 2016 for abstracts and CVs; January 31, 2017 for completed papers
Issue to be published in December 2017


The Indiscipline of Comparison

Guest Editor: Jacob Edmund (University of Otago, New Zealand)

In his 2006 statement on the discipline of comparative literature, Haun Saussy noted that the victory of comparative literature could be seen in the rise of “interdisciplinarity” as a scholarly buzzword. The many burgeoning fields of comparative research within the humanities and social sciences include comparative and global history, comparative political thought, and comparative bioethics. Other disciplines, such as anthropology, are inherently comparative.

While there has been commerce between comparative literature and other disciplines and while comparative literature has increasingly defined itself as interdisciplinary, as well as intercultural and interlingual, many of these modes of comparative study still largely operate in isolation. Bioethicists, historians, political philosophers, anthropologists, and literary scholars might all have conversations about comparison. Yet these conversations tend to take place in parallel, rather than in dialogue, or through haphazard points of import and export, as for example in the importation of world-systems theory, initially developed to describe the history of the early modern period, into fields such as comparative literature and political science. Comparatists thus often remain shackled within the very disciplinary structures that they should be best equipped to question.

This special issue seeks to highlight and overturn these current disciplinary limits by revaluing what is often viewed as the lack of discipline in interdisciplinary and comparative approaches. Collectively, the authors explore the role played by the indiscipline of comparison in new modes of thought in and beyond literary and cultural studies.

Contributors are asked to address questions such as what comparative literature can learn from other disciplines––including history, astronomy, medicine, and ecology––and their modes of comparison; what lessons comparative literature as a discipline offers for comparison in other fields of humanistic and social science research; and whether disciplines themselves are the enemy of comparison, which thrives on transforming norms of practice, inquiry, relation, and knowledge.

Submissions protocol: Those submitting manuscripts should create an account on Editorial Manager, where you must register before uploading your submission. Please select "special issue article" for the article type. Individual articles should not exceed 7000 words and should conform to the journal's style guide. Completed manuscripts must be submitted by December 15, 2015.

Submissions deadline: December 15, 2015 for completed papers
Issue to appear December 2016


Beyond the Anglophone: Comparative South Asian Literary Studies

Guest Editors: Amritjit Singh (Ohio University) and Nalini Iyer (Seattle University)

With the advent of postcolonial studies in North America in the 1980s, there has been significant scholarly output on South Asian literatures. However, literary criticism and commentary have focused mostly on Anglophone writing from South Asia and in the diaspora. At the same time, some two-dozen literary traditions in the Indian subcontinent continue to display remarkable energy, innovation, and historical consciousness. For a special issue of Comparative Literary Studies, guest editors invite essays that examine literatures since 1850 in South Asian languages in fresh comparative frameworks. Contributors are encouraged to consider one or more of the following topics: neglected literary canons/traditions; Islamic Literary Cultures; gender, sexuality, class, and caste; "postcolonialism" in non-Anglophone writings; interplay between English language and indigenous literary traditions; translation theories and praxis.

Submissions protocol: Please submit abstracts of 500-1000 words along with a 2-page CV by October 15, 2014 for critical essays of 5000-8000 words. For a detailed CFP and other queries, contact guest editors Amritjit Singh (Ohio University; and Nalini Iyer (Seattle University;

Authors encouraged to submit full manuscripts will be asked to do so through the journal's editorial manager website (CLS Editorial Manager). When registering on editorial manager, please select "special issue article" for the article type. Submissions should conform to the journal's style guide. Date for first drafts of completed papers: February 15, 2015.

Submissions deadlines: October 15, 2014 for abstracts and CVs; February 15, 2015 for first drafts of completed papers
Issue to appear in February 2016