Call for Papers: Nr. 28 Other Modernities “Words, powers and pandemics”

Open Access Academic Journal
To be published Nov 2022
Deadline: 15th Oct 2021

(ISSN 2035-7680) Edited by Ana María González Luna, Kim Grego, Giovanna Mapelli and Bettina Mottura

The year 2020 has witnessed the forceful emergence of the theme of pandemic worldwide, highlighting the multifaceted mechanisms of reaction put into play against it. The activation of the resources needed to face risk, uncertainty, difficulties and tragedy has taken all the forms of human and social life, sometimes also determining the rediscovery of past experiences. Women, men, social and professional groups, the media, public institutions have had to draw upon the tools, the memories, the knowledge and the practices necessary to adapt and protect body and spirit from the epidemic. This issue of Other Modernities intends to focus on the resources and strategies of resistance or resilience to pandemics that make language the fulcrum of the response and that highlight explicit or implicit forms of power in its broadest sense. We therefore consider the concepts of discourse and narrative to be crucial, applied to contexts such as medical practice, policies, procedures of national and transnational institutions, the production and circulation of news through the media, the IT management of data and information, cultural and literary production, the conservation and rediscovery of historical memory.

Linguistic approaches may therefore be discursive as, for example, in the tradition of Critical Discourse Studies (Fairclough 1995, 2003; Wodak and Meyer 2001/2015; Flowerdew and Richardson 2018), which addresses issues of social vulnerability with critical reflections upon the ways language is used to reflect, report and renegotiate power. The framework of sociocultural pragmatics (Bravo 1999) is also a possible approach, which aims to highlight the face strategies deployed and the effect that these strategies produce on the face of interlocutors. Other perspectives may come from Social Media Studies (e.g. Richardson 2007; Kelsey 2018; Vittadini 2018), including when seen within Argumentation theory (e.g. Walton 2007) or Appraisal Theory (e.g. Martin 2000), and other multi-disciplinary approaches are welcome, given the turn toward mixed methodologies, especially when specialized domains are concerned, that applied linguistics has undergone since the turn of the century (Sarangi and Candlin 2004).

Another useful methodological tool could be the concept of narrative as a way to structure and represent events and experiences. Narratives about the epidemic in science, journalism and literature frequently follow a stereotypical plot (Wald 2008). However, they arise from an ideal dialogue between narrators and their recipients, they are collective products rooted in time and in the discursive context that produced them (De Fina and Georgakopoulou 2008). Furthermore, as shared resources in communities of practice—such as those of doctors, politicians or journalists—narratives can be strategically declined and deliberately adapted through the choice of frames (Fillmore 1976; Gitlin 1980; Entman 1993; Reese 2007), or they can be subject to mechanisms of recontextualization, can become tools for resistance to power and give rise to antagonistic discourses (Silverstein and Urban 1996; Shuman 2005; Kelleher 2020). For these reasons, a critical analysis of narratives can bring to light social and power mechanisms that characterize a given historical period or a certain geographical place.

Conversely, narrative in its function as a synthetic configuration of events constitutes a possibility of investigation and interpretation of reality and responds to the need to make sense, to illuminate the aporia (Ricoeur 1981, 1991, 1999), to reconstruct the social fabric after a dramatic experience. Indeed, when the members of a community are subjected to traumatic events, such as pandemics, which leave indelible traces in their collective consciousness, a cultural trauma occurs, which changes identity and its forms of representation. In this sense, the theory of trauma (Erikson 1994; Caruth 1995; Alexander 2018) allows the study of the cultural and symbolic processes marked by collective pain that make it possible to re-signify the cultural ethos of a community.

This issue of the journal will therefore welcome contributions focused on discourse and words, mainly related—but not limited—to the following thematic areas.

1) Literary narrative, in all its forms, has a vital and collective sense in times of shared anguish. The word that represents reality has the power to open up new subjective and social perspectives on the pandemic, in both its synchronic and diachronic dimension. Literature, as an element that generates empathy, allows us to reflect on the notions of trauma and stigma produced by pandemics as new hermeneutic ways applicable to contemporary society.

2) In the field of politics, pandemics have changed professional practices, the relationship between institutions and citizens and bilateral and multilateral relations between states. Since past times, the management of epidemics has been a source of legitimacy for the institutions that have been able to face crises and restore the balance. Even today, among the tools adopted to consolidate the authority of institutions and win the challenge of prevention, there emerge the appropriation of specialized skills and the languages of dissemination, the design of an effective communication flow, the use of information technologies to provide services to citizens and contain the epidemic.

3) The media sector is a nerve centre of resistance. Traditional and digital means of communication produce flows of information, dissemination, analysis, and influence national and international public opinion. As is well known, the current media context attributes to numerous social actors tools to generate content and disseminate it. Thus, in times of pandemics, yesterday as today, the media become an arena where interpretations and languages confront each other, where mechanisms of power are revealed in the construction of meanings and in the recontextualization of elements of scientific and political discourse.

4) Cultural production is a privileged area for comparing representations of reality that try to give meaning to personal or collective experience. In the face of exceptional and hardly understandable events, these representations play a crucial role for individual and social re-elaboration, insofar as they constitute a space for symbolic experimentation that proposes the ethical, political and ideological re-signifying of traumatic facts and of the contexts that generated them.

5) The conservation and rediscovery of historical memory, in its various articulations, is a rich heritage from which institutions and individuals draw to decode reality and forge critical tools that link personal experiences to collective discourse. In times of pandemics, elements of oral and family history are rediscovered, as well as local and national narratives, which strengthen the bond between generations and peoples or exacerbate conflicts between identities.

The list of topics abovementioned is not meant to be exhaustive and the Scientific Committee will consider other proposals submitted by scholars who intend to collaborate in the issue of the journal, with a view to expand the investigation of the area with articulate and original research.

If you wish to contribute to Other Modernities issue 28, you are kindly required to submit an abstract (max 200 words) alongside a short CV to the email address, by the 15th October 2021.

The Editorial Board will confirm the accepted abstract proposals to the authors before November 15th 2021.

The complete contribution will have to be submitted by 14th February 2022.

Other Modernities accepts contributions in Italian, Spanish, French and English.

The issue will be published by the end of November 2022.

We also welcome book reviews and interviews to authors and scholars who investigate the aforementioned topics.

Moreover, Other Modernities will also consider publishing non-thematic essays in the indexed section “Off the Record”, following the conditions and deadlines indicated for thematic essays in this Call for Papers.

Contributors should feel free to contact the editors to discuss and clarify the objectives of their proposals, with a view to making the issue as homogeneous as possible also from a methodological point of view. The editors can be contacted via the Editorial Board (


The title for this issue is and the deadline for submitting contribution proposals is October 15, 2021.

For more information, see the CfP:
or the pdf (attached).

Download the PDF for this announcement: CFP_AM28_tutte le lingue