Call for Papers - AJS Perspectives: The Unfinished Issue

Karin Kugel's picture

Editors: Chaya Halberstam & Mira Sucharov

The Fall 2020 issue of AJS Perspectives: The Magazine of the Association for Jewish Studies is called The Unfinished Issue. In this time of flux and doubt, we invite Jewish Studies colleagues in any discipline to consider what it means for an idea or a task to be finished or unfinished, or to have one or more unfinished projects in our real or digital file cabinets.

The Unfinished Issue seeks essays about texts, tasks, identities, or arguments that have no teleology, climax, or conclusion; and how the communities we study, historically and today, have coped with that which remains unfinished due to normal or exigent circumstances.

As part of this call, we encourage essays about projects that you abandoned, for whatever reason. What insights or observations did you have, and which questions remained unanswered? What material or further work or thought would you have needed to proceed? Why did you let the project go? Have you concluded that your research question has no good or convincing answer, or that a conclusion was too forced? Are you unpersuaded by any one of several possible arguments that all seem equally viable or equally flawed? Were requested revisions too onerous? Or was your research cut short because the evidence wasn’t there, the historical record goes silent, or a political or material circumstance kept you from it? Did you decide there were bigger, more pressing matters to pursue instead?

In our section on the profession, we hope to turn the lens on ourselves, as scholars: how do we cope with unfinished work and scholarly identities that are in flux? Is the mark of a scholar to mask one’s deficiencies or uncertainties and to project confidence, or is it to model vulnerability and reveal one’s failures and shortcomings? 

In our section on pedagogy, we seek timely stories about teaching that could not be finished, or experiences and activities of teaching about public scholarship -- where students help continue to finish the work of others, and insights about what is lost or gained when classes end before we get to the end of the textbook, or reach the week with the title “conclusions.” We also ask contributors to think about the ways we signal to students that questions, learning, and research remains unfinished even once the course ends.

We particularly encourage creative, narrative, or other non-standard academic forms of writing, including submissions of annotated texts, first-person reflections, immersive non-fiction, teaching case studies, photo essays, mixed media submissions, infographics, art, etc.

Completed essays should be approximately 1,000 words. We invite pitches/abstracts of up to 250 words to be submitted via Google Forms: https://forms.gle/Vj4c9LnM2utM3E9H7

We aim to promote a diversity of voices including career stage, geographical location, gender, religion, race, sexuality, and ability. As such, you are invited to include relevant aspects of whatever subjectivity or positionality may inform your writing.

Deadline for abstracts/pitches: April 20, 2020

Note that prospective authors will also be required to submit a writing sample (or a sample introductory paragraph) showing facility with writing in a clear and engaging way for a non-specialist audience.

Decisions on pitches will be made by early May, and completed essays will be due by June 15.

Questions? Contact the editors at ajsperspectives@associationforjewishstudies.org.