“Superhero Synergies: Genre in the Age of Digital Convergence”
James Gilmore (UCLA) and Matthias Stork (UCLA)
Publisher: Scarecrow Press
Since the late 1990s, the proliferation of digital media has opened up a seemingly infinite horizon of narrative possibilities in transmedia storytelling. Traditional ideas about the look and the texture of cinema, television, and comics have equally undergone striking revision in the age of digital convergence. New technologies–including 3-D, video on-demand, and electronic tablets–change the ways we think about media production, aesthetics, and consumption. Digital media have made popular culture a malleable entity to be modified continuously. As a result, popular media do not exist in isolation, but converge into complex multidimensional objects. The Internet further relays this multidimensionality via discussion forums, fan fiction, and video-based criticism.
Nowhere has this phenomenon been more persistent, more creative, or sparked more discussion than in the superhero genre. While the genre is home to many of the most financially successful films of the last 15 years, it has also developed life in video games, digital comics, Internet criticism, video essays, novelizations, television programs, and other forms of media. These media may speak to each other–as in a video game based on the film The Avengers which is, in turn, based on a series of Marvel comic books–or incorporate and critique forms of media–as when the television series Heroes consciously employs comic book aesthetics as a central narrative component. The superhero genre thus forms an ideal lynchpin to examine the contemporary landscape of popular media convergence.
The goal of this anthology is to explore the intricate relationship between superheroes and digital media in an era of convergence. Specifically, we encourage contributors to consider analytical, research-driven, and theoretical work that tackles the problems and possibilities of convergence culture as it relates to the experience and study of superheroes in the contemporary world of digital media. While the anthology incorporates a theoretical dimension, we predominantly seek submissions that emphasize the experience of superheroes and analysis of superhero images in this expanding and converging digital landscape.
Topics may include but are not limited to:
* How do conceptions of “genre” and “narrative” change amidst the interaction of multiple digital media forms?
* Adaptation: How might superhero texts accent themselves as acts of adaptation? How do digital media and transmedia storytelling transform the notion of fidelity?
* Reception study: What opportunities do digital media present for spectators to interact with each other and the media texts, and what are the scope and shape of those fandom culture interactions (i.e. avatar creation, fan fiction, video essay criticism)?
* Textual/aesthetic analysis: How do the texts themselves–comics, films, video games, etc.–employ digital media and technology? In what ways do their aesthetics and structures communicate a converging digital landscape?
* Cultural studies: How do digital media inform the discourse of socio-cultural issues within the genre, its texts, and their reception? How might digital media convergence foster a more complex discourse of these social, cultural, or political issues central to the genre–or do they?
* Marketing aesthetics: How do the advertising strategies for individual texts take advantage of an array of new media technologies?
* Film criticism: How does contemporary criticism use digital media technology to analyze and chronicle the development of the superhero genre?
* Gender analysis: How are male and female bodies figured in the superhero genre, and how have those representations changed over time and across different forms of media?
Interested writers should submit a proposal of approximately 400-600 words. Each proposal should clearly state 1) the research question and/or theoretical goals of the essay, 2) the essay’s relationship to the anthology’s core issues, and 3) a potential bibliography. Please also include a brief CV. Accepted essays should plan to be approximately 6,000-7,000 words.
Deadline for proposals: November 1, 2012
Please send proposals to both contact e-mails:
James Gilmore: firstname.lastname@example.org
Matthias Stork: email@example.com
November 1, 2012 – Deadline for Proposals
December 15, 2012 – Notification of Acceptance Decisions
April 15, 2013 – Chapter Drafts Due
July 15, 2013 – Chapter Revisions Due
August 30, 2013 – Final Revisions Due
Acceptance will be contingent upon the contributors’ ability to meet these deadlines, and to deliver professional-quality work.
If you have any questions, please contact the editors.