In the late 18th Century the French writer Xavier de Maistre was sentenced to six weeks house arrest in Turin for fighting a public duel. Rather than see his forced confinement as a barrier to creativity and production, he wrote the non-fiction book A Journey Around My Room (1794) which explored the details of his bedroom, from the stories of the tapestries on his wall to the ‘topography’ of his wooden floor and the value of his dog Rosine as a ‘travel’ companion.
There are many such examples throughout history of writers finding creativity, purpose, and inspiration from within their periods of confinement beyond de Maistre, whether it be Jean-Dominique Bauby, the former editor-in-chief of French Elle magazine who wrote The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (1998) only using the blinking of one eye to write after suffering a catastrophic stroke; or Behrouz Boochani who sent out the chapters of his award winning book No Friend But the Mountains (2018) from his Manus Island prison via mobile phone messages.
The forced isolation throughout the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the work patterns, job security and mobility of many as we endeavour to continue writing and researching despite the continual challenges. As a response to the changes that the current pandemic has forced on all of us, creatively, geographically and ethically, this special edition of Ethical Space will look to explore Journalism and creative non-fiction within isolation and confinement as a way to not only contextualise many of the present challenges, but also as a way to observe and reflect on how this has been approached in different historical and geographical settings when we have been faced with similar periods of confinement and uncertainty.
Possible topics include but are not limited to:
- Impacts of COVID-19 on journalism production
- Ethics of working as a journalist or non-fiction writer during the pandemic
- Explorations of creativity within a pandemic
- Life writing
- Historical approaches to writing during previous pandemics and periods of enforced isolation
- Journalism, ethics and war (from nurses to foreign correspondents and trench presses)
- The challenges of writing about illness, both in contemporary and historical settings
- Writing from within ‘closed’ environments such as North Korea
- Explorations of mobility and travel during isolation and confinement
We welcome abstracts of 250 words for articles and non-traditional outputs which explore the diverse and profound impact of writing during isolation and confinement, as a way to contextualise and reflect on the current predicament within COVID-19.
To participate, please email Ben Stubbs by April 30th 2022 with a 250 word abstract for the Ethical Space peer review process. Contributing scholars will need to send their completed essays or articles by the 30th of September 2022.