Contemporaries CFP

Contemporaries invites guest editors to pitch us ideas for the clusters of the future. If you can think of a contemporary cultural artifact, text, or idea that inspires widespread fascination, curiosity, perplexity and feeling, you may also think of a short list of writers who you'd like to read on that subject. Pitch us!

Editor in Chief:
Gloria Fisk

Senior Editors:
Francisco Robles and Michael Docherty

Tyler A. Tennant

Q: What makes a good subject for a cluster?

A: You know it when you see it, and you can't look away. Everybody you talk to has something to say about it, and each one says something different. Those conversations leave you thinking in new ways about matters of importance for contemporary culture writ large.

Q:  What if you have an idea for a cluster, and you have a writer or two in mind, but you don't know how to proceed?

A:  Pitch us! We can solicit writers, too, and we may also know some who share your interest in your subject. We can also work with you to develop a call for papers.

Q: What does a pitch involve?

A: For an initial pitch, describe your idea for the cluster in 150-200 words, and send that description to the editors at We'd also love to see a potential title for the cluster along with a list of possible participants (either people you've asked, or people you'd like to ask). Tell us also why Contemporaries is the best place for your theme. If you have a draft of a call for papers, we'd love to work with you on that, too.

Q:  How does the editing process work?

A: After an idea is accepted as a cluster, the guest editor works with an editor at Contemporaries to refine it and assemble a list of writers. The guest editor communicates with the writers in the cluster to gather drafts of the essays and do a first round of edits. Then the guest editor passes the drafts on to our editor, who communicates with the writers about another round or two of edits. Our associate editor then uploads the submissions to the site and creates custom banner images for each piece. Then, we publish and we celebrate!

Q:  How big is a Contemporaries cluster, generally, and how long is each essay?

A: Contemporaries publishes clusters and essays that vary significantly in their size and shape, but we like to keep them on the smaller side. We find that a cluster that has more than six to eight contributors tends to grow diffuse, and that lack of coherence prevents any of the pieces from getting the attention it deserves. An essay that is longer than 3000 words or so inclines to lose its readers, too. But these are generalities, and we're glad to discuss the variety of ways they might apply.