October 6, 2014

Call for Submissions: Rape Culture and the Poetics of Alt Lit

The past year has seen increasingly high-profile news stories about sexual assault, rape, and emotional abuse at the hands of the boys' club that tends the gates of the Alt Lit community. Many have written eloquently on the controversies surrounding Stephen Tully Dierks, Tao Lin, Janey Smith/Steven Trull, and others. But few have dug deep into the literature of the Alt Lit movement to understand what--if anything--the aesthetics and poetics of the movement have contributed to Alt Lit's disastrous perpetuation of rape culture.

This is an open call for submissions of critical essays about the literature of Alt Lit (or other literary movements), personal essays that go beyond a recounting of events to address the wider trends and/or propose solutions to the persistence of rape culture, conversations or roundtables, and calls to action. The selections will be curated and posted on Delirious Hem by me, poet and teacher Sarah B. Boyle. 

Please submit your answers to the questions of why Alt Lit seems especially vulnerable and/or conducive to the dynamics of rape culture, whether Alt Lit isactually more conducive to the dynamics of rape culture, and what we as artists can do--in action, in art--to expose and dismantle rape culture. My hope is to create a dialogue that produces varied answers to these questions:
  • What is Alt Lit? How do various genders perform within its literature?
  • Why has the Alt Lit scene become such a flash point for sexual and emotional abuse, rape, and the perpetuation of rape culture? Do the gender dynamics in the writing of Alt Lit writers perpetuate rape culture? Or does the writing just reflect (and reinforce) the reality of the wider world?
  • Alt Lit writers are often anonymous, yet characters are named after real people (i.e., Haley Joel Osment in Tao Lin's Richard Yates; everyone in Peter Bd's We're Fucked). What happens when real people become characters in someone else's story? How does this conflation of real people and literary characters influence people's behavior in the world off the page/screen? How does it change the reader's interaction with the text?
  • Are female and male "confessions" privileged equally in Alt Lit? How does this compare to the wider world of literature?
  • Alt Lit is (de)centered around numerous websites. How does the isolation of internet culture affect the writing and the writers themselves?
  • How has the Alt Lit community reacted to the many women who have told their stories of rape and abuse? Is this exceptional or more of the same old, same old? Are literary communities' reactions to rape culture evolving?
  • What is the future of Alt Lit? What do you think it should be?
  • How do any of these questions apply to any other literary movements, present and/or historical?
  • What do we DO to combat rape culture in our art and in the real world? What can we do in the real world and in our art to combat rape culture?

Responses will appear on Delirious Hem on a rolling basis throughout October. Submit works of up to 3000 words along with a brief bio to rapeculture.and.altlit [at] gmail [dot] com. Send your finished pieces or start with a pitch--whatever works best for you. Please submit by October 30th for consideration. 

Lastly, a link round up, for your reference. There are many more smart pieces out there, so this list is by no means comprehensive.