Document title: CfP_10_2_html_engl

Journal of Literary Theory Vol. 10, No. 2 (2016)

Functions of Literature

Submission Deadline: March 1, 2016

Call for Articles

What good is literature? What is literature’s function for authors and readers or in social, cultural, historical and evolutionary contexts? Questions such as these have been discussed ever since reflection on literature (and art in general) began, even though they have rarely been explored in greater detail. Numerous functions have been suggested, ranging from entertainment and pleasure to emotional responses, aesthetic experience and the potential to provide certain insights and convey knowledge, among others. Assumptions relating to literature’s functions prove central to different theories of literature. They influence the respective notions of literature and guide scholarly thinking. Not least, they have an impact on the way literary criticism as a discipline is conceived and serve to justify research projects.

More recently, in different areas of research there is an increasing interest in certain topics that include a conception of literature’s functions. Publications on e.g. the relation between literature and knowledge, emotional responses to literature, and the ethical potential or the aesthetic qualities of literary texts appear in larger numbers. However, it is noticeable that rarely an attempt is made to provide empirical evidence for theoretical assumptions on literature’s functions.

JLT invites papers on topics that include, but are not limited to:

  • The concept of ›function‹ is used in several areas of research and in different ways. What can (and should) ›function‹ mean with regard to literary texts or artworks in general?

  • What functions can be reasonably assigned to literature or art? How can they be classified? Which functions are particularly important?

  • Exploration of individual functions: cognitive, emotional, aesthetic, and ethical functions, critique and subversion, hedonistic functions, therapeutic functions.

  • What conception of literature’s function is central to different theories of literature, e.g. Cognitive Poetics, Literary Darwinism, Ethical Criticism or Postcolonial Studies?

  • What are the functions of literature in different institutions like e.g. educational contexts or the book market?

  • What role have assumptions relating to the functions of literature played in the history of the academic disciplines concerned with literature? What is the role of such assumptions in these disciplines today?

Articles that rely on empirical evidence or present the results of empirical investigations are of particular interest. We encourage submissions from all language and literature departments as well as neighbouring disciplines, e.g. the philosophy of art, media studies, art history, and musicology. Articles in which individual literary texts or a corpus of literary texts are interpreted can only be considered if their focus is a systematic and theoretical one.

Contributions should not exceed 50,000 characters in length and have to be submitted by March 1, 2016. Please submit your contribution electronically via our website under »Articles«.

Articles are chosen for publication by an international advisory board in a double-blind review process.

For further information about JLT and to view the submission guidelines, please visit (»About JLT« and »For Authors«) or contact the editorial office at


JLT aims to publish work on fundamental issues in methodology and the construction of theories and concepts, as well as articles on particular literary theories. Case studies, i.e. studies on specific authors, works, or problems of literary history, are accepted only if they adopt a predominantly systematic perspective, contribute to the reconstruction of the history of literary theory, or pursue innovative methods. Moreover, the Journal of Literary Theory contains work reviewing and outlining trends of theoretical debates in literary theory and related disciplines.

Please contact the editorial office if you have further questions.

Jan Borkowski

JLT - Journal of Literary Theory

Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

Seminar für Deutsche Philologie

Käte-Hamburger-Weg 3

37073 Göttingen

0049 - (0)551 - 39 – 7516