Focus and Scope

It is easy to believe when reading Cavell that one has stumbled upon “privileged knowledge,” so that the intimate experience of going over some of Cavell’s close readings makes one feel “privileged” in a sense, to the point where it becomes inconceivable that others – from, say, other disciplines or specialties – could be reading Cavell correctly unless they too are beginning from the same vantage point. Yet whether the discussion begins with Wittgenstein or Austin (ordinary language philosophy), Nietzsche or Kierkegaard (Continental philosophy), Emerson or Thoreau (American studies), Shakespeare or Beckett (literature and drama), Capra or Cukor (film and romance), Coleridge or Kant (poetry and ethics), or, even, music discomposed, Cavell’s insights have less to with specialized knowledge than with his unique ability to make his readers feel as though they – suddenly and somehow – have a real stake in what otherwise seems to be a privileged field. The understanding Cavell’s philosophical work and readings afford us is the humane sort, unencumbered by (a lack of) specialization. 

Conversations is a journal that seeks to promote precisely this sort of communal, human conversation. For dialogue between disparate realms of thought to thrive, we encourage contributors to forage beyond a single disciplinary speciality. While interdisciplinary conversation occurs quite frequently between film and philosophy, literature and film, and literature and philosophy, Conversations does not promote one set of disciplinary engagement over any others.  

The end result, it is hoped, will be not a feigned obliteration of disciplinary boundaries but rather, a kind of scholarly, trans-disciplinary “intimacy of difference” that Cavell suggests in The Senses of Walden and elsewhere. Conversations seeks to ensure that humanistic lessons and insights supposedly unique to certain specialized investigation are made salient and shareable with a broader audience — in true Cavellian spirit.

Peer Review Process

As a philosophical peer, Anthony Kenny has called Cavell's The Claim of Reason a "misshapen, undisciplined amalgam of ill-assorted parts." More directly, Cavell's peers at Harvard once called a sampling of his writings "deleterious to the future of philosophy."

The journal's two Managing Editors will send submissions to appropriate referees at their discretion. Because we seek to foster not only Cavellian scholarship, but also greater dialogue and understanding between disciplines, all submissions will be vetted (blindly) by at least two referees from different areas of specialization.

Such a policy is designed to promote precision and complexity of writing and research on the one hand while ensuring a non-specialist and generalist approach on the other. 

Because of the eclectic mix and interests of our Advisory Board, final say over whether a piece is published rests solely with the Managing Editors. We appreciate and encourage interesting pieces that challenge conventional scholarship and attempt to draw out "patterns" from seemingly dissimilar and disparate material. Writing that is conversational in tone, engaged, interested, curious, even exploratory, is welcome at Conversations

For queries or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact one of the Managing Editors (Sérgio or Amir).

Open Access Policy

This journal provides immediate open access to its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge.

Journal History

This journal was started in 2012 by two non-professional philosophers (Sérgio and Amir) working in the fields of Film Studies and English Literature respectively.  One hails from Continental Europe, the other from North America.  Despite having starkly different research interests, Sérgio and Amir met via online conversation over the work of Stanley Cavell in 2009.  

Sérgio and Amir hope that as an online forum, Conversations can act as a meeting place and space for other internationally and professionally divergent scholars.