DEADLINE EXTENSION: Moveable Type 2024 Call for Papers: Promise

DEADLINE EXTENSION: Moveable Type 2024 Call for Papers: Promise

Posted by The Moveable Type editorial team on 2024-06-15

We have extended our deadline for Moveable Type: Promise to July 15, 2024.

A promise is an essentially human speech act – a performative utterance of intended action which assumes or conceives an imagined, but uncertain ethical responsibility to our future selves. Self-reflexive, and anchoring, it both constrains and creates the self to come; as an intersubjective force, it binds and commits us to our promisee; it is both public and private in the sense that it is performed  by and for us, the intended other party, and for the witnesses of the promise. It is a test of moral courage, self-constitution, and fulfilment: we cannot know what will happen in the duration of the promise to which we must commit come what may. The vow has temporal duration and power – it imagines, anticipates, and creates our future. It makes and breaks worlds. This temporal force is imbedded in its etymology, borrowing partly from Anglo-Norman promesse and partly Latin prōmissum, literally to send forth. The prefix pro can also suggest delegated agency – in making a promise we speak of and for others. For moral philosophers, it has profound ethical significance; it underpins societal operation and relations. Self-creating and fulfilling, it creates and organises epistemic parameters that are not yet determined at its inception. Its impact on the parties to the promise has ontological force; it brings them into being in their altered, created world. Potentially excessive, the promise can impact, and yet be rendered inoperable, by drawing other subjects into its passionate force.

Promises abound in fiction, creating, and determining intersubjective relations, and using the inherent narrative dynamic to impel the plot over time. When is a promise performed? When can we evaluate and judge it? Is that beyond, literally, the book’s recognition?  This uncertain and sustained trajectory of a promise, and its ethical, moral, and, overwhelmingly, social implications are vital components of writers’ imaginative exploration of subjects negotiating their worlds. Fiction make its own promise to us as readers to allow us imaginative and sensory simulation to experience and judge our social and material existence. To what extent have forms of writing – romanticism, realism, modernism, and their heirs – fulfilled or failed in their promise? When and how is this promise delivered – for some critics the promise of modernism has yet to be fulfilled? 

We invite academic articles of up to 5000 words, book reviews of up to 1500 words, and creative writing, poetry, and art works of up to 3000 words. Please send submissions by July 15, 2024, to

Topics may include but are not limited to: 

Prophecy and vision
Expectation and disappointment
Obligation and duty
Potential and perceived or intrinsic value
Bargains and contracts
Marriage and other vows
Faith and fidelity
Loyalty, fealty, patriotism
Honour and virtue 
Moral adherence and the imaginative creation of a desired self 
Ironic, mistimed, duplicitous, malevolent promises
Reciprocity and reward
Plans, models, blueprints
Credit, loan, investment
Fictional form, style, and moral/political positions
Social and political justice


Book Titles for Review (published within the past three years)

The Promise by Damon Galgut
Promise by Rachel Eliza Griffiths
Promises of Gold by José Olivarez
The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese
The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O'Farrell
The Marriage Question by Clare Carlisle
Commitment by Mona Simpson
The Fraud by Zadie Smith
Tom Lake by Ann Patchett
For Thy Great Pain Have Mercy on My Little Pain by Victoria MacKenzie
Prophet Song by Paul Lynch
Until August by Gabriel García Márquez, translated by Anne McLean
The Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley

Academic Books (need not be recently published)

Henry James and the Promise of Fiction by Stuart Burrows
Modernist Futures by David James
The Promise and Peril of Things by Wai-yee Li

We welcome suggestions for book reviews; please get in touch with us to discuss proposed titles. Reviewers are responsible for obtaining their own copies.