CFS: Special Issue: Encyclopedia Joyce, James Joyce Quarterly

The Call for Submissions is now open for a special issue of the James Joyce Quarterly entitled “Encyclopedia Joyce”. Complete essays are requested by January 31, 2017.

About the issue

Ulysses and Finnegans Wake are encyclopedic novels—whatever that means. Joyce thought of Ulysses as “a kind of encyclopaedia” (SL 271), and he drew heavily on the eleventh edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica in writing it and the Wake. Both novels have the heft and polymathic breadth of a compact reference encyclopedia. One or the other of them is at the heart of every substantial analysis of encyclopedic literature that extends to modernism, from Northrop Frye’s to Edward Mendelson’s to Paul Saint-Amour’s. Whatever the encyclopedic novel is, surely they’re it. Yet just about everyone who writes about Joyce’s encyclopedism has something different in mind, and a spate of new work on the encyclopedia by historians (Ann M. Blair, Richard Yeo, Jeff Loveland, Joanna Stalnaker) and literary scholars working in earlier periods (Mary Frankin-Brown, Seth Rudy) has suggested numerous other, unexplored avenues for thinking through his relationship to the encyclopedic tradition. Everyday immersion in encyclopedic networks, which has lately revived and refocused scholarly conversation about the encyclopedia in those other fields, ought to refresh our reading of Joyce. The nature and significance of his encyclopedism is a vexed question, but it should also be a hugely generative one.

The encyclopedia is a byword for totalizing literary projects and a genre that has, for centuries, rehearsed the impossibility of writing totality. It names an epistemological ideal and a pedagogical one, as well as a genealogy of sprawling, Brobdingnagian books that overwhelm ordinary reading and thrive on multitudinous contradiction even as they aspire to those ideals. It stands for a tradition of information management with deep roots in the Middle Ages and early modern period (Blair); a “broad, fast, informational, fragmentary, and networked… style of reading and thinking” that links Enlightenment and post-Internet subjectivities (Daniel Rosenberg); and a “repertoire of necessary-impossible negotiations” between the impulse to comprehensiveness and the refusal of coherence that constitute a modernist alternative to epic (Saint-Amour). It’s reference encyclopedias and encyclopedic literature and the nebulous something-or-other that connects them.

When we talk about the encyclopedia, we refer to some or all of the meanings, connotations, histories, forms, practices, epistemologies, and bodies of knowledge that have attached to the term since antiquity. JJQ welcomes submissions that draw on the critical resources the term consolidates for a special issue, “Encyclopedia Joyce.” We are open to any approach to the theme but are especially eager to read essays that make use of recent scholarship on the encyclopedia; that consider how gender and race might determine what counts as an encyclopedic text and who gets to write one; that read Joyce alongside authors not usually discussed in studies of encyclopedic literature (e.g. Dorothy Richardson, Gertrude Stein, Jean Toomer); that think about Joyce’s encyclopedism in relation to the book’s transition from bound pages to networked screens; that have something new to show about Joyce’s use of reference works; that reflect on the usefulness or limitations of the encyclopedia in comparison with related critical categories (e.g. modern epic, the long novel, the maximalist novel); or that examine his role as model or subject for contemporary encyclopedic projects.

How to submit

Submissions are due January 31, 2017. They should not be longer than twenty pages, including notes.  Send them electronically to James Phelan (james.phelan@vanderbilt.edu) and Kiron Ward (k.ward@sussex.ac.uk).