The Remnants of Plato’s Cave – From Imprisonment and Ideology to Resilience

Tim  Schmidt's picture
Call for Papers
September 30, 2022
New York, United States
Subject Fields: 
Cultural History / Studies, Race / Ethnic Studies, Sexuality Studies, Slavery, Women's & Gender History / Studies

You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners. Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave? (Plato, The Republic)

“Allegorie entsteht, wenn der Verstand sich vorlügt, er habe Phantasie.” Allegory occurs when the mind betrays and tells itself it has imagination. (Hebbel, Diary 1840, translation added)

Plato used the allegory for a specific purpose — to defend the need for education and philosophy. It is undeniable that in a society we are to a certain extent prisoners bound by ideologies, cultures and devices introduced in the century of digitalization. So, what happened to the cave today? Has the allegory lost its relevance, or have its implications multiplied? We can think of the transformation of a false imagination craving for enlightenment into Blumenberg’s Paradigms for a Metaphorology as cave having transformed into culture. It seems like Foucault’s Panopticism is the next step in a time in which we carry our own cave in our pockets as a token of freedom, self-actualization and improvement. On the other hand, more and more mental disorders are on the rise and the individual loses awareness and the motivation for self-improvement. Everything is already there and there is no need for further development in society. Digitalization already overtook the significance of enrollment. 

Has digitalization become an allegory? Does the modern emulation of traditional institutions not represent an allegory itself? Has the reality in its multiplicity become an allegory of an allegory?

The importance of that seminar is in combining a diverse variety of approaches and subjects that could enrich future research in cultural and media studies.

There are myriad ways of addressing and approaching this development of culture and society in the 21st century. We will welcome any approach that explores allegory in the context of modern culture, such as psychoanalytical, hermeneutical, or feministic representations and the development of culture in Literature and Cinema. 


Contributions may address: identity, imprisonment and prisoners, oppression minorities and sexes in any cultural environment, punishment, slow violence, digital humanities, depravation in times of digitalization, postcolonialism, abusing of technology, feminism, inbetweenness, dialectics, awareness, third culture, dissolution of meaning/border/limits


The call for papers can be found at CFP.

The abstracts should be approximately 300 words long and are due by September 30, 2022. 

All proposals must be submitted through NeMLA´s online portal at


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