The Comparatist seeks contributions for a special issue on the topic Pessimism. The issue will examine the notion of pessimism in comparative studies and literary theory. What does pessimism signify today? Is it a certain discontent with the now discredited rhetoric of progress and hope, a growing dissatisfaction with bland optimism—a belief in the postideological, postpolitical, postcritical, postracial, and so on? If pessimism is an emphatic refusal to prolong such cruel pragmatism, to judge with suspicion everything around us as complicit with or tainted by power, we might also recall Foucault’s insistence that power doesn’t mean “that everything is bad, but that everything is dangerous.”What follows from this recognition is not despair or apathy but a resolve to confront any configuration of power identified as dangerous, cruel, or ideologically dubious, adopting what Foucault suggestively terms “a hyper- and pessimistic activism.” Topics of interest could include:

  • Afro-pessimism
  • The post-political
  • Queer negativity
  • Neoliberalism
  • Nihilism
  • Happiness and its discontents
  • Violent resistance
  • Solidarity
  • Utopian thought
  • Radical democracy
  • Failures and lost causes

Please submit a one-page abstract by 1 April 2018 to The deadline for completed articles will be 1 December 2018.