Call for submissions on ‘the secret’

Scholars are invited to make a submission for Skepsi – a peer-reviewed online journal produced within the School of European Culture and Languages (SECL).


Skepsi is run by SECL PhD/MA candidates, with the support of established and early career academics, and commits to publishing the work of postgraduate students and emerging scholars.

Following the recent success of ‘The Secret in Contemporary Theory, Society, and Culture’, a two-day postgraduate conference held at Kent, we are calling for contributions to a future issue of Skepsi.

In an effort to capture and expand the broad and interdisciplinary interest in the ‘secret’, we are seeking to gather ideas, explorations, critiques and theories that examine this topic.

In revealing the governmental practice of spying on millions of conversations, the Snowden case triggered a sudden upheaval in the definition of public and private spheres. It has also prompted us to question what constitutes a secret, and what function secrets have in society today.

Some of the questions in which we are interested include: How does the formation of a secret inform, and how is it informed by, the boundary separating the private from the public sphere? What ethical issues are involved in questions of transparency, concealment, and revelation? Does the conventional understanding of the secret – rightly or wrongly – presuppose a hidden ‘truth’ buried beneath the lack of meaning at the level of language? Is the secret itself a function of something like Derrida’s ‘différance’, and therefore an illusion or mere surface-effect of language?

Suggested topics include, but are not limited to, the following and their interrelations:

  • Power relationships: what kinds of power relationships can exist between a secret holder and those who do not, or wish to, know it? Who does a secret alienate?
  • Sociological and anthropological approaches to secrets: collective and individual secrets and the question of surveillance; how secrets vary across cultures.
  • Language and communication: does interpreting a text reveal its secret(s)? Or is there a semantic void within any text, the lack of a fixed signified or ‘secret’, which nonetheless generates its apparent meaning(s)? What is a coded language?
  • Secrets in literature, and in the visual and plastic arts.
  • Secret histories: subaltern and other marginalised histories; Nationalism, identity, and concealing or reinventing the past; the role of State secrets in history; how the definition and function of the secret has changed in history.
  • Philosophical approaches to secrets (analytic and continental): do secrets exist? Are they logically possible? What relations are maintained between secrets, language, and intersubjectivity, and between secrets and the unconscious?
  • Psychological and psychoanalytic perspectives on the structure and function of secrets. Emotional responses (guilt, shame, etc.).

Submissions are invited from academic staff, postgraduate students and independent scholars.

Any of the submitted articles selected by the Editorial Board after peer review will be published in a forthcoming issue of the journal, to be published in Spring 2015.

Articles, which should not exceed 5,000 words, should be sent, together with an abstract of about 250 words and brief biographical details about the author, to

The deadline for submission is 30 September 2014.

For more about the journal Skepsi, please see its blog.