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Call for Papers: ART AND DEMOCRACY “Poznan Slavic Studies” 17/2019

Today’s democratic societies, whose legal and economic structures make them ostensibly superior to societies ruled by lawlessness, religious law or some form of totalitarianism, are increasingly burdened with a deficit of democracy. The representative system, considered the keystone of democracy, is becoming just the opposite. Representatives of the nation no longer represent the will of the majority, but are instead strengthening the ties between the state and the economic oligarchy. Jacques Rancière says that in this process “Peaceful oligarchic government redirects democratic passions toward private pleasures and renders people insensitive to the public sphere” (Hatred of Democracy). The confusion surrounding democracy is accompanied by the recognition that democratic societies produce more and more instruments through which democracy is limited in the name of democracy itself. Contemporary democratic societies are also finding it increasingly difficult to deal with their main adversary – autocracy. Democracy is therefore struggling not only with an internal institutional crisis, but also with unexpected autocratic alternatives that are beginning to systematically undermine people’s trust and faith in democratic projects.

Perhaps, however, democracy is something else, perhaps it is “neither a form of government that enables oligarchies to rule in the name of the people, nor is it a form of society that governs the power of commodities” (Rancière, Hatred of Democracy), but a paradoxical political state, “the point where every legitimization is confronted with its ultimate lack of legitimacy” (Ibid.), possibly characterised by a “lack of foundation” (J-L. Nancy: Finite and Infinite Democracy).

In the prepared issue we want to ask various questions: what is the role of literature and art in shaping, preserving and critically viewing democracy in democratic societies? What is the relationship of literature and art to the historically shifting tensions between democracy and autocracy? What is democracy’s relationship to high art, which is associated with the concepts of elitism and social exclusion? What is the role of so-called “mass art” (folk, popular, youth, workers’, subcultural) in the political processes within a given community? Looking at the use of literature and art in the school system, one can ask whether we are instilling a habitus of submission or of freedom into the student’s mind. In looking at the functioning of the cultural market, questions arise about the relation between literature and art and the economy, etc. The aim of this planned interdisciplinary issue is to answer questions about the role of literature and art in democratic societies, (non)democratic art, democracy as a form of artistic shared multiple individuality, and literature and art as spaces for the emergence of new (non)democratic forms. The topics addressed may also concern such issues as literary and artistic representations of the crisis of the democratic state (in terms of the redistribution of goods, the state’s protective umbrella, etc.) in past and contemporary art; representations of power and its alienation in literature and art; the semantics of the image of power in the media; the role of digital media, the Internet and social networks in shaping the relationship between literature and art and democracy; how the shaping of language policies and usage relates to the modelling of democratic procedures, and to free thinking or its suppression.

The various forms of democratic activity and thinking about democracy that have arisen from antiquity to today offer a place for historical perspectives on these problems, and for a study of the relationship between literature and art and democracy in the pre-romantic era and before the introduction of parliamentary democracy.

     The authors: philologists, cultural studies researchers, anthropologists, film studies scholars, art historians, and theorists of literature and art are requested to send their texts in (of which length must not exceed 30 thousand of letters) by the end of December 2018 via the magazine’s page ”Poznańskie Studia Slawistyczne” on the Pressto platforme ( index.php/pss), or to the address On the very platform, the authors will find all the publishing instructions. Articles should be supplemented with abstracts (around 500 letters) and keywords (both in English), together with notes (also in English) about the authors.  

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