‘Beginning is not only a kind of action; it is also a frame of mind, a kind of work’
—Edward Said, Beginnings: Intention and Method
How does one begin to speak of beginnings? If the beginning is behind us, how does one begin again? Should one attempt to, and is it up to us to choose?
On the first day there was, primarily, a beginning. Genesis multiplies this: the first day saw the beginning of light, the third gave rise to the origin of territory, the sixth birthed our very own beginnings. The seventh day—the day of rest—is when beginnings came to an end, only to begin again the morrow. What came before the beginning? That is to say, what came before the light? What lies before the preliminary, or, rather, the pre-luminary?
Already, the problem of beginnings becomes more obvious. Sometimes there is more than one beginning; other times, the beginning is only what comes after. There are even beginnings that can come only after an ending, just like the rising of a ‘phoenix’, which is how Jorge Louis Borges described Kafka when speaking of how ‘every writer creates his own precursor’. What role does the idea of the precursor play in literature, theory, and philosophy? Must one always, as Harold Bloom advocates, misread? And how does one even begin to write a poem, a novel, or a treatise? What literary works, in their origin(-)ality, began something bigger than themselves—one here thinks of Frankenstein, for instance—and is the entire oak tree always contained in the acorn?
We spoke of the beginnings of humankind—and so where did we come from, in spiritual, scientific, and political terms? What of our own conception, and its links with current feminist thought? Where are we now, and where are we headed? Is the idea of trajectory, or perhaps even destiny, always inherent to any idea of beginning? And, in reverse, must one necessarily dig to unearth the origin, through archaeology, genealogy, or history? What if one were to queer the beginning, seeing not a development but a regression, a misstep, or what Judith Halberstam would call a failure?
Must one also, as Edward Said does, distinguish between the origin and the beginning? In what ways? Is a beginning always something new, or always a re-presentation of something familiar? How is a beginning, then, different from repetition or a variation on a theme? Finally, is the beginning always linked to the ending, the final, and the never-again?
In light of the above, the editors of antae (ISSN 2523-2126) welcome proposal submissions on or around the topic of beginnings. The authorial guidelines are available on www.antaejournal.com, and the deadline for submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org is the 10th of October, 2018. Submissions should be in the form of proposals between 250 and 400 words, and accompanied by a brief biographical note. All potential contributors will be informed of a decision by 25th October, and full article submissions will be expected by the 10th of February, 2019.
Issues and topics relevant to this publication include, but are not limited to:
- Writing, language, beginnings
- Literature and its precursors
- The politics of beginnings; beginnings and postcolonialism/postcolonial literature
- Creation myths and contemporary interpretations
- The rise of the novel, or of other forms of writing
- Philosophies, theologies, and theories of beginnings
- Literature and evolutionary theory; the prehuman and the posthuman
- Archaeologies, genealogies, histories
- Originary literature; the literature of beginnings
- Queer beginnings
- The historic and the contemporary
- Apocalypse narratives and beginnings; utopias and dystopias
- Faminism and nativity
- Beginnings and film, painting, music, other artforms
antae (ISSN 2523-2126) is an international refereed postgraduate journal aimed at exploring current issues and debates within English Studies, with a particular interest in literature, criticism and their various contemporary interfaces. Set up in 2013 by postgraduate students in the Department of English at the University of Malta, it welcomes submissions situated across the interdisciplinary spaces provided by diverse forms and expressions within narrative, poetry, theatre, literary theory, cultural criticism, media studies, digital cultures, philosophy and language studies. Creative writing and book reviews are also encouraged submissions.