Marc Shell says of Cavell’s autobiography that it will be read for “decades, even centuries” and, more importantly, that it will “contribute to how we understand the lives of philosophers.”

Though we are neither decades nor centuries away from the publication of Little Did I Know (Stanford University Press, 2010), the editors of Conversations: The Journal of Cavellian Studies invite essays that tackle some of the implications of these formidable “excerpts from memory”, particularly now that some of the dust accompanying its initial reception has settled.

We invite papers for the inaugural issue of Conversations that discuss and engage with Cavell’s autobiographic writings, not only Little Did I Know, but also his earlier autobiographical exercises A Pitch of Philosophy (Harvard University Press, 1996) and references to his personal history from other texts.

Close readings that negotiate both the professional and personal ramifications of the many encounters Cavell so compellingly recounts are welcome – see, for example, James Conant’s recent essay “The Triumph of the Gift over the Curse in Stanley Cavell’s Little Did I Know” in Modern Language Notes. Articles may also address broader issues raised by the autobiographical elements in Cavell’s publications for the field of philosophy, and its approaches and traditions, through a less narrow engagement with his texts and philosophical contribution.

We accept submissions from all theoretical perspectives and disciplines and encourage attempts to assimilate seemingly disparate (disciplinary) areas of Cavell’s thinking (or recounting). Possible topics include:

  • The use of “I” in philosophical writing (for rhetorical affect, or detraction, or both)
  • Philosophical and historiographical writing
  • Memory and affect
  • Structural analysis of autobiographical writing, including discussion of rhetorical devices
  • The ethics of autobiography
  • Overlap/divergence between earlier and later writings
  • Autobiographic elements of Cavell’s film criticism

Papers should be no more than 6000 words, including footnotes, and must follow the notes and bibliography citation system described in The Chicago Manual of Style. We also welcome shorter, more intimate pieces addressing specific questions (800-1200 words). Proposals of around 500 words (for long articles) and 250 words (for short articles) should be sent by 1 December 2012 to both managing editors, but complete articles will be considered as well.