CFP: Bad Men and Damaged Women: Gender, Violence and 21st Century Television/ abstracts due June 1, 2014

full name / name of organization: 
Dr. Ina Rae Hark and Dr. Brian Faucette

Since the turn of the millennium television dramas have proliferated at a geometric rate, on broadcast, cable/satellite and streaming services while at the same time the increase in quantity has accompanied a concomitant rise in overall quality. Yet these many programs tend to replicate a narrow range of premises and tropes, overwhelmingly producing clusters of shows about criminal organizations, law enforcement agencies, supernatural or technologically speculative realities, or historical periods rife with conflict. Much more than in their past iterations, these genres depict graphic violence, feature murderous male antiheroes as protagonists, and often take the killing and violation of women and children as a starting point for both plots and character motivations. When such dramas have female protagonists, these women are more likely to oppose violent men (even if having ambiguous connections to them) and be trauma survivors as well as suffering from mental illness or other neurological conditions. This proposed essay collection invites analyses from a variety of perspectives that consider the question: what do these violence-inflected narratives and their gender politics signify at this particular pop cultural moment? A secondary focus would interrogate the connections between gender, genre and the discourses of quality these programs inspire. We welcome generalized theoretical arguments and case histories of single series, consideration of industrial/economic factors or of writing, acting, photography, production design and direction, reactions of professional media commentators and of online fans, and discussion of counter-examples that subvert or counter the paradigm.
If you are interested in contributing, please send a 100-200 word abstract and brief bio by June 1 to Ina Rae Hark ( and Brian Faucette ( We anticipate that final essays will be from 6000 to 7500 words in length.
• Antiheroes vs. traumatized/mentally ill female crimesolvers
• Quality TV a set of generic practices rather than a descriptor of artistic merit?
• Error to assume that the opposite of safe, formula bourgeois entertainment subject to censorship must be daring progressive art.
• Genres lacking violence and criminal focus deemed soapy, chick TV