CFP: Eternal Peace in Speculative Fiction (15.09.2023)

Johannes Kaminski Discussion

CfP Special Issue World Literature Studies

Edited by: Johannes D. Kaminski


World Literature Studies is a multilingual open-access scholarly journal, published quarterly by Institute of World Literature, Slovak Academy of Sciences since 1992. It publishes original, peer-reviewed scholarly articles and book reviews.

In the wake of Russia’s prolonged attack on Ukraine, this special issue of World Literature Studies reconsiders theoretical and literary ideas of how peace can be established in the long term. Provocatively, this also includes the question why a perennial state of peacefulness might not even be desirable.

In philosophy and political thought, the teleological end of history is frequently imagined as a state of Eternal Peace, even if its characteristics vary significantly. Its success is attributed to contradictory criteria, including the worldwide installation of republics (I. Kant), the “withering away” of the state (F. Engels), the advent of post-scarcity economics (M. Bookchin), the installation of a centralized World Government (Zhao Tingyang) and the overcoming of patriarchy (O. Richmond). In recent years, the focus of peace scenarios has shifted from inter-human affairs to include sustainable forms of coexistence with the planet (J. M. Meyer) and interspecies relationships (D. Haraway).

While Eternal Peace represents an elusive but necessary goal in philosophy, speculative fiction evinces a striking ambivalence about its desirability. One the one hand, the climaxes of science-fiction narratives frequently coincide with a utopian promise. On the last page of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy (1992–96), for example, Ann describes her new habitat in glowing terms: “Nowhere on this world were people killing each other, nowhere were they desperate for shelter or food, nowhere were they scared for their kids.” Peace has come, finally. On the other hand, the joyful prospect of Eternal Peace stands at odds with the experiences of those unlucky protagonists who indeed inhabit a society that has already been harmonized. Especially in dystopian writing, the beneficiaries of Eternal Peace are bound to suffer from oppressive laws and homogenized lifestyles. Others simply feel bored beyond belief. The Controller in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932) already knows: “Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the over-compensations for misery. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune.” 

Research questions: Individual pieces may address—but are not limited to—the following questions: Does the contrast between prescriptive visions of Eternal Peace and their sobering literary accounts point at our limits of understanding, for existing societies are not quite ready for a world of non-aggression? How are related political philosophies (e.g. just war theory, pacifism, cosmopolitanism) translated into fiction? Which dismissive or affirmative accounts of Eternal Peace exist in literature? In what ways do philosophical treatises avoid the “peace fatigue” frequently found in narrative fiction? Since every variation on Eternal Peace presupposes a set of universally shared values, what are the possibilities to achieve the establishment of such consensus by non-coercive means?

Interdisciplinarity: This special issue features contributions in which philosophy, political thought and literary criticism intersect in multiple ways. Subjects include: Comparative Literature, Philosophy of Ideas, Utopian Studies, Science Fiction Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies, Anthropocene Studies.

Please send your abstracts and short bio to by 15 September 2023. (The submission of the full articles will be January 2024. Publication: issue 4/2024.)


Redaktion: Constanze Baum – Lukas Büsse – Mark-Georg Dehrmann – Nils Gelker – Markus Malo – Alexander Nebrig – Johannes Schmidt

Diese Ankündigung wurde von H-GERMANISTIK [Lukas Büsse] betreut –