The editors of JMMLA seek essays about the literature, film, music, and art of places that don’t really matter, places whose adjacency to the capitals of the world confirms their lack of sway. Especially welcome are essays that explore the consequences that come from the way literary and artistic value gets determined, the way consumers of culture continue to count on a handful of institutions to vet the art of the elsewhere.
“Elsewhere” is a term that is hospitable to more established ways of thinking about the relationship between center and margin—from Raymond Williams’s “country/city” designation to the various porous binaries of postcolonial theory and ecocriticism—but that also accounts for the unevenness of the opposition. “Elsewhere” presupposes a somewhere in the same way that “99%er” confirms the one percent while also highlighting the inequality built into the opposition.
The art of the elsewhere responds to the unsettling experience of being both predominant and peripheral. It makes explicit the implications of the uneven split, the consequences of a system of cultural authority whose publishing houses, studios, galleries, and engines of public opinion are joined to the same somewhere.
How does this uneven distribution of cultural capital affect inequality beyond the realms of art and culture? Will elsewheres continue to submit to a system that understands its art as a mere dispatch from the periphery? Though somewheres continue to applaud and validate the art of the elsewhere, will elsewheres continue to accept this noblesse oblige? Will the axes of sway change in the twenty-first century? Indeed, can New York ever be irrelevant, or is such an idea too fantastic, the stuff of zombie novels and post-apocalyptic action movies?
One goal of this special issue is to explore these big questions while also appreciating the art of the elsewhere on its own terms, as that which teaches us how to relish the experience of being out of the spotlight—a lesson that Americans may need to learn as we enter a century in which the U.S. may well lose its status as the world’s one superpower.
Another goal of the issue is to produce a set of essays that calls attention to the common ground of diverse, dissimilar elsewheres and that, in the process, finds new avenues for coalition building. Hobokens and Cuautitláns of the world, unite!
Essays should be around 8,000 words and should follow the most recent MLA Style Manual for internal citation and Works Cited. Please direct your queries and submit your essays electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deadline for queries: March 15, 2014
Deadline for essays: September 15, 2014