DEADLINE TOMORROW: Hello Traveller - Essays on the Syfy Series 12 Monkeys

deadline for submissions: 
November 3, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Racheal Harris – Australian Catholic University

What does it mean to travel through time?

What is the impact on the individual and how widely do the repercussions of individual actions in the past ripple into an ever uncertain future?

What is the importance of a single moment or a single person’s actions when we consider them as a momentary player in history?

Can one person really save, or damn, the world?

These are some of the questions asked by the syfy series 12 Monkeys.

Time travelling from the year 2043 to 2015 the mission of James Cole is, on the surface, a simple one: in order to save the world, he must prevent the spread of a biological plague. Willing to stop at nothing in order to achieve this end, Cole shows little compunction about killing those he feels are responsible for the outbreak. Cole is, at this point, acting under the assumption that success in his mission will unmake his current self and in doing so, he will reset the course of the future. Time, however, has other ideas and as Cole soon learns, time and fate are intimately connected; rather than being tangible elements of the natural world which can be bent and broken, time and fate are in fact conscious players in the unfolding story of humanity.

Moving back and forth through time, the unfolding and interlocking narratives of 12 Monkeys’ ensemble cast of characters has revealed itself to be not only complex, but a meticulously orchestrated meditation on time travel, destiny and fate. It initially received a mixed reception from the viewing audience, who expressed confusion over its’ relationship to the Terry Gilliam film released almost ten years prior. In the unfolding seasons however, the reception of audiences and critics alike has undergone a sharp turn. Now boasting over 95% approval on Rotten Tomatoes the series has developed a devoted following as it approaches its final season, in which the cycle of James Cole and his fellow travelers will be completed.

The aim of this collection will be to consider the various ways in which 12 Monkeys uses time and the time travel narrative in order to explore human nature, concepts related to cause and effect, and what it really means to try and influence or dramatically alter the fate of humankind.

Possible approaches may include, but are not limited to:

- issues associated with time travel and paradoxes

- character case studies

- use of symbolism within the series

- religious overtones throughout the narrative

- comparisons between the series and the film

- psychoanalytic criticism

- character relationship dynamics

- representations of time travel

- comparisons between 12 Monkeys and other 'change the past to save the future' narratives

- the impact of time travel on the individual

- concepts of good and evil

- depictions of morality

- new-historic criticism

- 12 Monkeys in relation to wider science fiction cannon

- fandom

- how characters continue in fandom after the end of a series

- death, rebirth and resurrection 

- current fears around germ warfare and/or modern-day plagues

I encourage abstracts which examine the series from a broad range of disciplines and welcome contributions from researchers at any stage in their academic journey.

Ideally I would like to include 12 chapters in the collection. I will be contributing a chapter of my own which examines the narrative of James Cole in relation to Nietzsche's concept of Eternal Recurrence.

McFarland Publisher has expressed an interest in this project. Once the completed proposal has been submitted and contracts have been signed, I anticipate working towards a publication date of early 2019. 

Completed essays will need to be in the range of 6,000 – 8,000 words.

Abstracts of no more than 500 words and a brief biography of no more than 300 words should be emailed to: by 3 November 2017.



The deadline for submission of abstract 3 November 2017

Successful candidates notified by 4 December 2017

Initial drafts by 1 April 2018

Revisions and final drafts to be completed by 1 July 2018