Comparing Rivers: Aquacritical Perspectives in History and Literature (Special Issue Proposal)

Anna Barcz's picture
Call for Papers
June 22, 2022 to September 30, 2022
Subject Fields: 
Environmental History / Studies, Humanities, Indigenous Studies, Literature, World History / Studies

CALL - rationale:

Rivers’ symbolical functions are deeply embedded in global traditions, giving us an insight into their cultural value. However, the long history of rivers’ hydromorphological and hydraulic transformation, as well as their anthropogenic pollution, has not been reflected in the context of their abundant national and supranational literatures and other texts of identity cultures. This call addresses this vast disproportion between rivers’ cultural and environmental global history by investigating how they are referred to as such, as distinct from borders, aquaducts, canals and waterways, and wishes to refer to new historiographical approach to restore the living rivers’ traditions which were preserved in cultures especially in relation to floods and draughts events.

We expect the potential authors to investigate new or revisit well-known sources, both elite and popular, within what we call the aquacritical perspective of river-centred analysis[1]. This river-centric approach may involve sources across genres and periods to show how they contribute to unexplored river people adaptation cultures, e.g. how such people coped with the elemental nature of rivers, negotiated their space in the riparian landscape, and encoded ecological knowledge that survived in the memory of culture.

Finally, there are different approaches to recognize the river’s aliveness as a cultural value. This call seeks proposals of reflective articles from scholars and research-driven artists on:

- the poetics, rhetorical figures and other creative devices that animate rivers

- factors which play a role to develop the deficit meaning of a living river

- bonds with environment in riparian cultures and sources

- new approaches in fluvial environmental history.

Contributions must meet academic standards: they should be based on academic literature and/or empirical data and be well substantiated. Please do not exceed 8000 words in length and use The Chicago Manual of Style formatting guidelines for citations and reference lists. Authors are encouraged from all theoretical, methodological and political traditions. The deadline is 30.09.2022 due to finishing funding for this project and possibility to offer our authors some editorial and proof-reading suport. The publication will be issued in a well-recognized journal indexed in Scopus or other well-positioned databases. Please contact us in the case of any further questions.

[1] A short intro to how we understand aquacriticism can be found here: or in a scholarly paper: Barcz, A., Buchta-Bartodziej, P. and A. Michalak, “The Oder – a River that Floods: The Problem of Environmental Adaptation in Literary Texts”, Environmental Hazards 2018 vol. 17 no. 3. 251–267.



Contact Info: 

dr Anna Barcz, Institute of Literary Research, Polish Academy of Sciences

Contact Email: