Special Guest Issue — Unreliable Me: Constructing and Inventing the Self

Editors: Robert Vest and Roxie James

Call for Papers

Deadline March 10, 2023

Wayne C. Booth, in The Rhetoric of Fiction (1961), coined the term unreliable narrator to discuss the “artificial authority” that we as readers assign the narrator that is telling us a story (4). The question, however, comes when the narrator withholds information, manipulates information, or outright disguises or hides the information to fulfill a particular purpose. Perhaps the narrator wishes their reader to believe a particular idea, or they do not want the reader to know something to maintain the image they are creating through their narration. Literature has always played with the concept of narration. From Cervantes to Poe to George R.R. Martin, readers experience narrators that are confused, obscured, illusive, and more. 

Dialogue is currently seeking contributions for a special topics issue on the role of the narrator in the construction of both the text and their own identify. This issue will examine the narrator as a potential source of (mis)information in any medium of global popular culture and focus on their role in creating an idealized version of themselves through their narration. Texts themselves may even subvert or challenge the implicit authority of the narrators. This issue also welcomes any contributions that demonstrate how to read past the narrator to understand the meaning of the text. 

Potential papers might consider the following:

  • The instinctual power and authority given to a narrator;
  • The ways in which narrators are undercut by (meta)textual details;
  • The relationship between the narrator and the narratee;
  • Gendered dynamics in narration;
  • The methods narrators use to construct or deconstruct their identity;
  • How we teach students to think critically about narrators;
  • How we teach students to examine the source of information within a text.

Please send completed manuscript drafts (5,000-7,000 words in length and in MLA format) to Dr. Robert Vest (robert.c.vest@gmail.com) and Dr. Roxie James (dr.roxie.james@gmail.com) by March 10, 2023. 

Published February 2023