Women in Genres of the Fantastic and Transmedia Entertainment

deadline for submissions: 
September 1, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Amanda Howell/Griffith University
contact email: 

Call for Papers: Women in Genres of the Fantastic and Transmedia Entertainment

The particular concern of this edited collection is to discover how transmedia world-building in genres of the fantastic might open spaces of possibility, especially for women—a group historically under-represented as media producers, also often overlooked or devalued as audience-members and consumers. To this end, we seek proposals for book chapters utilising a range of methodological approaches to investigate female characters in transmedia universes belonging to genres of the fantastic, also to address the various creative contributions of women who produce and consume fantastic fictions in a converged/cross-platform/transmedia environment.

Please submit your 250 word abstract for consideration by 1 September 2017 to Amanda Howell a.howell@griffith.edu.au, along with a brief bio. The editors will contact you concerning the status of your proposal no later than 31 October 2017. Completed chapters of no more than 6,000 words should consist substantially of new material and original research; draft chapters will be submitted to an editorial and peer review process in 2018, the timetable for which to be advised. This collection is not yet under contract. Its development is funded, in part, by a collaboration grant from Griffith University (Queensland, Australia) and Southern Denmark University (Odense). Editors: Stephanie Green (GU), Amanda Howell (GU), and Rikke Schubart (SDU).

Background

Women figure in somewhat ambiguous and problematic ways in today’s entertainment media environment, being at once highly visible yet often also numerically under-represented both on screen and in production sectors, especially in the context of big budget Hollywood film and globally-dominant US television. Nevertheless, since the turn of this millennium, genres of the fantastic – including horror, fantasy, the fairy tale, sci-fi, and the superhero franchise –are noteworthy for their focus on and redevelopment of female heroes. Characters like Jessica Jones, Ms Marvel (Kamala Khan), Wonder Woman and Super Girl from universes of Marveland DC comics are particularly interesting examples of the shifting shape of female heroism, their story-worlds spreading across film, television, comics and games. Premium cable/post-broadcast/non-network television series such as The Walking Dead (AMC 2010–), Game of Thrones (HBO 2011–), The 100, (CW 2014–), Penny Dreadful (Showtime 2014-16), and Stranger Things (Netflix 2016–) also use their fantastic and speculative premises to innovate new forms of female heroism as part of their appeal to multiple niche audiences. While, in children’s media, efforts to engage a previously underrepresented girl audience include offerings such as Mattel's television/online media franchise/ doll line Monster High (2010-present) which remakes and regenders classic Universal and other traditional monsters for 7-12 year olds. High budget Hollywood film remains dominated by male directors, but Wonder Woman (Patty Jenkins 2017) has become the highest grossing film directed by a woman. Female showrunners, directors, and scriptwriters are increasingly visible and important to recent developments in television, while a number of high-profile films and television series are based on books written by women. Female audiences have responded in turn by creating vibrant communities around fantastic entertainments, numerous fan and paratextual productions further expanding imaginary worlds, while breaking down boundaries between producers and consumers.

Aims

The editors of this collection are  interested in investigating how a converged and rapidly-changing media environment might offer new sites and means and opportunities for women to tell stories. And what opportunities might be offered especially by genres of the fantastic, which have in common ‘as-if’ imagining, a cognitive meta-thinking unique to humans, said to generate ‘self-awareness and self-reflexivity’ (Bould 2002: 81), leading to ‘transformation and reflection’ (Feldt 2012: 1). A central aim of this collection is to explore the hypothesis that the fantastic, because it lends itself to imaginative acts and creativity, may as a consequence open spaces of possibility for female producers and audiences. Similarly, we wish to explore what possibilities might become available within the transmedia environment where, at the same time that multi-national media conglomerates may dominate, multiple points of entry are possible into the imagined universes of the fantastic, with as a consequence multiple opportunities to create and consume its fictions.

Specific topics of interest for this collection include but are not limited to

  • women’s representations and roles within a contemporary fantastic transmedia environment (film, television, computer and board games, comics and novelisations, internet-based and other fan activities), with a special focus on how these might challenge gender stereotypes and/or re-author familiar gender scripts, including the renegotiation of gender in relation to race, class, sexual preference;
  • the opportunities or particular challenges transmedia fictions in genres of the fantastic might offer female producers (directors, producers, designers, writers) of media content;
  • the significance of fantasy genres in transmedia entertainment—and a converged media environment more generally—especially for the sometimes ignored and historically de-valued female audience;
  • the power dynamics of transmedia entertainment, as exemplified by the fantasy genre, including conflict and congruency between old and new media, big and small scale productions, global and local productions;
  • the way transmedia fictions might work with, play with, adapt, recruit, or transform fantasy texts and tropes of the past to remake narrative possibilities in the present;
  • those different modes of authorship and audience engagement produced by transmedia entertainment, those new or altered relationships between authors and producers, readers and audiences for narrative entertainments, especially in genres of the fantastic.