I'm organizing a short story competition for philosophical fiction, funded by a grant from the American Philosophical Association's Berry Fund for Public philosophy.
The aim of this competition is to encourage philosophers to use fiction to express their philosophical ideas. Some philosophical ideas as better expressed in a story than in a traditional essay. As works by Iris Murdoch and Jean Paul Sartre indicate, you could potentially also reach a big audience through stories. The competition is open to everyone, including students, making it an excellent opportunity to try your hand at a slightly different way of doing philosophy. Next to the cash prize of 500 USD and publication in Sci Phi Journal of the winning story, we are also publishing an edited volume of submitted stories that make an excellent contribution to philosophy.
Read more about the competition, including the rules, dates, and how to submit here. A couple of points to keep in mind:
- Word count is at least 1000 words, maximum 7500 words
- Genre needs to be speculative fiction (e.g., fantasy, science fiction, horror, magical realism)
- Story needs to be accompanied by a food for thought section, explaining the philosophical rationale of the work (max 500 words, not part of overall word count). This section will be part of the evaluation
- Story needs to be unpublished - this also means it should not be on your personal website, blog or similar (this is a common norm for fiction publishing)
- Deadline 1 February 2017, decision by 31 March 2017
- The review process has two stages: first, initial vetting by a team of experienced readers at Sci Phi Journal, second, evaluation by three judges: Meghan Sullivan (Notre Dame), Eric Schwitzgebel (UC Riverside) and Mark Silcox (University of Central Oklahoma). By entering the competition, you accept their decision is final. They will select the winning story, as well as a number of very good entries to be considered for an edited volume (you can opt out of the volume, but you need to do so explicitly upon entering the competition)
Read more about why fiction is a valuable philosophical tool here.
Now you may ask, " Is this competition for me? I've dabbled somewhat in writing stories, but never anything serious." Or you may worry that writing for this competition might take away valuable research time. I hope you would consider submitting your story to us. As I explained in the interview:
The professionalization of philosophy has led to some unfortunate consequences, some of which include a narrowing of what is deemed philosophically interesting. There is great pressure on graduate students and other untenured philosophers to write papers that would end up in “good journals”, that is, a limited number of general philosophy journals and some specialist ones. The problem is that these are highly restricted in their scope.
So, I hope that this competition will liberate us somewhat from the yoke of writing papers for good journals, and free up our minds to write in a different way, and maybe see philosophical ideas in a different light. This, in any case, was my aim in launching this story competition, as well as the workshop Fiction Writing for Philosophers, for which the call will go out later this year.