Call for Papers
Bulletin of Transilvania University of Brașov. Series IV. Philology. Cultural Studies
No. 2/ 2020
The journal is currently indexed in EBSCO, CEEOL and WorldCat.
Citizen Vain: Radical Individualism, Solidarity, and Citizenship
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed our daily lives quite a bit this year, yet we remain hopeful that relatively soon we may able to switch tracks and get back on course, meaning back to our normalcy again. However, besides these eventual economic hardships for some, or lifestyle change for others, and before our hope that things will get back on track, this pandemic managed to put us in front of an uneasy mirror. Were we really on a good track before?
While autocratic regimes are boasting about their successes in dealing with this pandemic, it seems that Western-style democracies are struggling to convince some of their citizens that the pandemic actually exists. The Covid-19 deniers are statistically a minority, yet they are a vocal (as we have seen in Germany or Romania) and sometimes a violent (as we have seen in France, Belgium, or United States) one. Of course, there is no question of autocracies versus democracies here, especially on a propaganda and disinformation ridden field, like the one offered by the polemics surrounding this pandemic. The actual question, the uneasy mirror of Covid-19, looks at democracies, and at one of their most essential components: the informed citizenship. A true democracy does not coerce its citizens, but it governs through their accord. So then, what do we do, when a vocal misinformed minority refuses to observe rules that are supposed to protect everyone?
The troubling aspect of the Covid-19 deniers may be explained away through simple psychologies. But what if this phenomenon is in fact a sign of something else, something that runs deeper through contemporary Western-style democracies? What if we are seeing the actual sign of a systemic failure?
We would like to propose a connection between these pandemic woes and other troubling trends that we have witnessed over the past decade or so. Before Covid-19 we had Brexit and the 2016 elections in United States, both influenced by social media manipulations, as they surfaced in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Besides such manufactured consent, we also witnessed the rise of populist and extremist political forces (Hungary, Poland, France, and perhaps even more troubling, due to historic traumas, Italy and Germany), that seemingly are showing us democracies ready and willing to deny themselves.
The best antidote against manipulation and disinformation is critical thinking. So what happened with this essential feature in the citizens of Western-style democracies? Are the inherent physical loneliness and narcissism nurturing aspects of the ever present social media to blame? Have we grown too distant to each other to feel any social empathy, has democratic solidarity dissolved, and if it did, why? Has citizenship itself, as an idea, changed in the last decade? Have Western democracies been through this before, a hundred years ago, with another pandemic and a crisis of humanities? And if they did, does that mean we should be fine?
For the present issue, we welcome contributions in one of the following sections:
- Language studies
- Cultural studies
Contributions may be written in English, German or French, must have an abstract of about 120 words in English and authors are advised to follow the journal’s submission guidelines and stylesheet, available at the following website: http://webbut.unitbv.ro/Bulletin/Series%20IV/Instructions.html.
The deadline for article submissions is 1 November 2020. Articles should be sent as an electronic copy in Word for Windows to the following e-mail addresses:
All submitted articles will be blind peer-reviewed. Accepted articles will be returned for post-review revisions by 15 November 2020 and are expected back in their final version on or before 30 November 2020. The Journal is open source and free, no fees are required from authors.
Cristian Pralea, Lecturer, Faculty of Letters, Transilvania University of Brasov, Romania