CFP: Captivity Narratives Then and Now

NANO: New American Notes Online
Stichtag: 15.05.2018

NANO Special Issue: Captivity Narratives Then and Now: Gender, Race, and the Captive in 20th and 21st American Literature and Culture

Captivity is everywhere in the texts and popular culture of the 20th and 21st centuries—from headline grabbing icons of captivity such as Patty Hearst and Jessica Lynch to the growth of captivity-themed popular television such as Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Orange is the New Black, and The Handmaid’s Tale. In its modern iterations, captivity serves to both reify and defy the social construction of race, gender, and national identity endemic to early expressions of the genre.

But, early captivity narratives set the stage for these modern examples. In fact, there is a large body of scholarship from Nancy Armstong, Rebecca Blevins Faery, Christopher Castiglia, Cathy Rex, Gordon Sayre, and Susan Scheckel among others, attesting to the cultural and ideological role that 17th-century captivity narratives like Mary Rowlandson’s ur-text have played in the development of an imagined national community. These early narratives also established one of the most consistent tropes of the genre: the use of white female bodies “as guardians of the boundaries of race to serve the territorial and political purposes of white men and their claim to dominance,” (Faery) or to create what Lauren Berlant has called a “national symbolic.”

This NANO special issue seeks to explore this complex legacy by inviting multimodal papers that examine tropes of captivity in 20thand 21st century culture. More specifically, we seek papers that explore the legacy of the captivity narrative genre, particularly its modern, postmodern, and contemporary permutations. This issue seeks to determine the extent to which narratives of captives, particularly those written by women, persist and define American literature and culture.

This issue of NANO welcomes multimodal essays up to 4,000 words (excluding works cited) exploring topics relating to captivity narratives, including but not limited to the following:

  • the various forms of captivity (e.g., lawful imprisonment, kidnapping, mental or physical illness, abuse, sex trafficking, slavery) in women’s narratives of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries
  • captivity narratives in modern and contemporary media (women’s magazines, television, film, graphic novels, video games)
  • captivity narratives, the nation & nationalism, particularly during times of war of political conflict
  • captivity narratives and the construction of gender and the domestic sphere
  • captivity narratives, race, and the construction of the other
  • the use of writing and narrative as therapy to cope with the trauma of captivity
  • the various coping strategies women have used to deal with captivity in different times and places
  • social valuations of transculturation in the narratives of captive women, including but not limited to transatlantic, trans-Caribbean, and other border-crossing captivities
  • voyeurism and the male gaze in women’s captivity narratives

Please direct questions to the special issue co-editors: Megan Behrent ( and Rebecca Devers (

NANO is a multimodal journal. Therefore, we encourage submissions that include images, sound, video, data sets, or digital tools in support of a written argument. The multimodal components of the essay must be owned or licensed by the author, come from the public domain, or fall within reasonable fair use (see Stanford University Libraries’ Copyright & Fair Use site, and the U.S. Copyright Office’s Fair Use site, more information). NANO’s Copyright and Permissions information is on the top left of this page.

For questions about video, audio, or image usage, please contact

NANO uses modified 8th Edition MLA (Modern Language Association) formatting and style.See:

Please use the Submission Form on top left of this page.

Keywords and abstract: Each author is asked to submit 5 keywords and a 150-word abstract to accompany their submission.

Deadlines concerning the special issue to be published in NANO:

  • Submission deadline: May 15, 2018
  • Pre-production begins June, 2018
  • Publication: fall 2018

We look forward to receiving your contributions.

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