CFP: CFP for Comparative Aesthetics in the Times of Contagion

Submission deadline: August 31, 2020

Topic areas



Journal of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics (ISSN 0252-8169) [Published by Vishvanatha Kaviraja Institute of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics, India since 1977]  

Comparative Aesthetics in the Times of Contagion

It was not very long ago when comparative aesthetics took up the challenge of globalization and postcolonial discourse, and argued for the recognition of cultural difference as a basis of comparativism. The Encyclopedia of Aesthetics (1998), edited by Michael Kelly, as for example, successfully met the challenge and its four volumes brought different aesthetic discourses: African, Chinese, European, Indian, Latin American, Middle-Eastern aesthetics on the same table. How does the practice of comparative aesthetics respond to the humongous threat faced world-wide from the Corona pandemic?

After all, the notion of contagion is not a negativity for aesthetic experience and metaphors of pervasion richly abound in different discourses. Fire as an allegory of emotional contagion often emerges as a favourite metaphor for Indian aestheticians to describe a successful poem, play, music or painting. Is it perverse to turn contagion as an enabling framework when the current pandemic poses a dire threat to contemporary society? In fact, the question to ask is if this is an opportune moment to celebrate aesthetics in any way? There may be two contrasting ways to address contagion in aesthetics:

1. Its more positive dimension is related with the idea of sadharanikarana or “extended self” which aestheticians like Abhinavagupta have embraced to refer to the expansion of aesthetic experience beyond one’s individual self. This is more of a contagion without contact: when a rasika (connoisseur), well versed with the codes of aesthetic experience, is able to escape his or her limited self to enjoy the emotion as a common experience or when the frisson of emotion passes through all.

2. We can take a pause from the celebratory mode and reflect on the way aesthetics has brought within its ambit representation of horror, disease, discomfort and even disfigurement. Out of the nine rasas from classical Sanskrit aesthetics, Bhayanaka (fearful), Raudra (Fierce), Bibhatsa (Disgusting) point towards feelings we associate with contagion and capture our daily confrontation with the rapid spread of the pandemic that we glean from the media.

We invite scholars and researchers to relate aesthetics with the new contemporary sublime that engulfs us regardless of our nationality, race, religion, gender and sexuality and perhaps think beyond cultural difference towards the new universal posed by this pandemic.

Journal of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics  
Follow us: Twitter -
Facebook -
LinkedIn -


The Journal of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics (ISSN 0252-8169) is a half-yearly journal published by the Vishvanatha Kaviraja Institute of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics, India since 1977. The Institute was founded on August 22, 1977 coinciding with the birth centenary of legendary philosopher, aesthetician, and historian of Indian art, Ananda K. Coomaraswamy (1877-1947). Vishvanatha Kaviraja was a medieval Indian aesthetician.
The Journal is committed to interdisciplinary and cross-cultural issues in literary understanding and interpretation, aesthetic theories, conceptual analysis of art, literature, philosophy, religion, mythology, history of ideas, literary theory, history, and criticism.
The Journal has published eminent scholars like Rene Wellek, Harold Osborne, John Hospers, John Fisher, Murray Krieger, Martin Bocco, Remo Ceserani, J.B. Vickery, Menachem Brinker, Milton Snoeyenbos, Mary Wiseman, Ronald Roblin, T.R. Martland, Charles Altieri, Martin Jay, Jonathan Culler, Robert Kraut, T.J. Diffey, T.R. Quigley, R.B. Palmer, Keith Keating, Peter Lamarque, Christopher Norris, Richard Shusterman, Garry Hagberg, S.C. Sengupta, K.R.S. Iyengar, V.K. Chari, V.K. Gokak, P.S. Sastri, and others. JCLA is indexed and abstracted in the MLA International Bibliography, Master List of Periodicals (USA), Ulrich's Directory of Periodicals, Project Muse, EBSCO, ProQuest, and Gale (Cengage).
Celebrated scholars of the time like Rene Wellek, Harold Osborne, Mircea Eliade, Monroe Beardsley, John Hospers, John Fisher, Meyer Abrams, John Boulton and many renowned foreign and Indian scholars were Members of its Editorial Board.   

Supporting material

Add supporting material (slides, programs, etc.)