The Polish Journal of Aesthetics
77 (2/2026)

We kindly invite Authors to submit proposals to a special issue of “The Aesthetics of Disaster”, 77 (2/2026).
The special issue of The Polish Journal of Aesthetics, titled “The Aesthetics of Disaster,” aims to examine the intricate relationship between art, tragedy, and human experience in the contemporary global context. Inspired by Susan Sontag's seminal work "The Imagination of Disaster" (1965), this issue seeks to explore how disasters, both natural and human-made, are depicted and interpreted through various artistic mediums. This exploration is particularly relevant in our current era, marked by the omnipresence of existential threats such as the global health crisis of COVID-19, conflicts in politically strategic regions and climate change. These crises evoke profound dread and mistrust, yet also galvanise us towards agency and transformative action.
Contextual Relevance:

In Sontag's words, "Ours is indeed an age of extremity." The present-day reality reflects a continuous struggle between mundane existence and overwhelming terror. Our era's existential crises differ fundamentally from past encounters, not just in their scale and impact, but in their ability to touch us on a deeply personal and impersonal level simultaneously. This issue will address how the aesthetic representation of such disasters can articulate these complex emotional and intellectual responses.
Thematic Scope: “The Aesthetics of Disaster” aims to investigate:

- The representation of disasters in visual arts, literature, cinema, and digital media.
- The role of aesthetics in mediating the experience of tragedy and destruction.
- Artistic expressions of resilience, hope, and the human condition in the face of calamity.
- The ethical implications of depicting suffering and tragedy through art.
- The potential of art as a tool for catharsis, remembrance, and social commentary.
Objectives: Expanding Aesthetic Discourse

By focusing on the aesthetics of disaster, this issue aims to expand the discourse within the field of aesthetics, offering new perspectives on how art interacts with extreme experiences. It will provide a platform for scholars, artists, and critics to engage with questions about the representation of disaster and the role of art in contemporary society. The issue also aims to reflect the journal's commitment to fostering critical dialogue on the intersection of art, culture, and society. It will encourage contributions that not only analyse aesthetic responses to disasters but also consider the broader social, cultural, and ethical dimensions of these responses.
Articles may explore, among other topics:

1. Artistic Representation of Natural Disasters:
- How do artists depict natural calamities such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and pandemics?
- The impact of visual and narrative choices in conveying the scale and emotional weight of natural disasters.
2. Human-Made Disasters and Art:
- Artistic responses to wars, terrorism, and industrial catastrophes.
- The intersection of political critique and aesthetic representation.
3. Ethics and Aesthetics of Suffering:
- The ethical considerations in representing human suffering and tragedy.
- The balance between aestheticisation and exploitation of disaster imagery.
4. Resilience and Rebuilding in Art:
- Depictions of human resilience, recovery, and rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of disasters.
- The role of art in community healing and memorialisation.
5. Digital Media and the Aesthetics of Disaster:
- The influence of digital platforms and social media on the dissemination and reception of disaster imagery.
- Virtual reality and immersive experiences in representing disasters.
We also invite submissions in the form of essays, reviews, poetry, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary expressions that explore the volume’s theme from non-academic perspectives.
All Authors interested in contributing to this issue of "The Polish Journal of Aesthetics" are kindly requested to send full papers by submission page at journal's website by 30 September, 2025.