S(t)imulated Realities: The Hypperreal in Popular Culture

full name / name of organization: 
Robin DeRosa/Plymouth State University
contact email: 

This collection will look at pop cultural simulations of the real. Topics to be covered could include reality television; living history museums or other tourist sites; simulated violence in entertainment, such as film and professional wrestling; Disneyland; planned residential communities; SecondLife, online gaming, and avatars; online cultural communities; metafiction; and literary hoaxes. Is the "real" strengthened and reinscribed by the copy that acknowledges it, or is the "real" confounded by simulations which ultimately supplant reality with a kind of hyperreality?

In _The Celebration Chronicles_, Andrew Ross talks about a moment he observed while doing research at Disneyworld. A small snake—native to Florida where the park is situated—had slithered onto a paved walkway between two rides. Parents, sure that the snake was animatronic and part of the park's overall staging, encouraged their youngsters to interact with the snake until a park official was finally dispatched to remove the living snake from the area. This collection will look at moments of slippage like this one, where the simulated reality seems to trump the "real" reality. What are the possibilities that exist in the wake of Baudrillard's nihilism? Critic Neal Saye suggests that "counter-hegemonic media literacy" is the key to revealing the constructedness of any simulated reality. It is my hope that our collection will be able to use such media literacy to theorize a vision for postmodern post-reality.

I would like to review abstracts before setting a working title and final scope for the project. If you are working on something that you think could expand this idea in a new direction, feel free to send it along, and the collection may be able to change shape to accommodate your ideas. While the collection will primarily focus on American pop culture, I am considering expanding this as well, so again, be in touch if you have work focused on other countries, or work that is cross-cultural. Here are the tentative deadlines for the assemblage of the collection:

April 23, 2010: Deadline for letters of interest, including current cv

May 28, 2010: Deadline for abstracts

July 2, 2010: Deadline for 20-35 page papers, if your proposal is accepted


I will be shopping this collection to several publishers (beginning with McFarland, who published my last book). If you plan to submit to this collection, please make sure the work is previously unpublished, and be sure not to submit it to any other publishers (if we are unable to publish the work in a timely fashion, you will be notified so that you may publish elsewhere).

Send all questions, letters of interest, abstracts, and papers to Dr. Robin DeRosa via email at rderosa@plymouth.edu.