A Critical Companion to David Fincher

deadline for submissions: 
April 1, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Francis Mickus/Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

Deadline extension

David Fincher initially learned his craft through the technical aspects of film making with his first job at George Lucas’ company Industrial Lights and Magic. From there, he went on to make commercials (which were, to say the least, provocative) and then music videos for stars performers such as Madonna. Unlike many of his contemporaries, such as Quentin Tarantino or the Coen Brothers, Fincher is less interested in film history, but he is fascinated by the intricacies of the film medium. This puts him therefore at the cutting edge of film practices, which goes beyond the technologies used (he is for instance one the first masters of digital film making). Not only does Fincher experiment with how films stories are told, he explores the ways films are seen and therefore experienced. A film like Fight Club, for instance, overturns audience expectations, simply by shifting the point of view, just as Mindhunters makes the investigators the investigated. Like several predecessors, including Hitchcock and Spielberg, Fincher is increasingly interested in television. Today he is the star in-house director-producer for Netflix. This has enabled him to explore narrative capabilities that a feature film’s demands could not allow, with his work on television formats, as a producer (and maiden director) for House of Cards, and then as front runner for Mindhunter.

Fincher’s œuvre, however, is surprisingly coherent. The director is notoriously meticulous and therefore has shot relatively few films since his first feature, Alien3 (1992), but this eclipses his prolific output in videos and television. There are also visible thematic and visual preoccupations (the two tend to overlap), as well as certain discrepancies (such as his attitudes towards music in his feature films), which this collective edition would like to address, as part of the ongoing Lexington Press series Critical Companions to Contemporary Directors, edited by Adam Barkman and Antonio Sanna. The series (which already comprises volumes on Tim Burton, James Cameron, Robert Zemeckis, Steven Spielberg, Stanley Kubrick and Terrence Malick) covers many directors whose works are highly renowned nowadays, offering interesting and illuminating interpretations of the various directors’ films that will be accessible to both scholars of the academic community and critically-minded fans of the directors’ works. Each volume combines discussions of a director’s oeuvre from a broad range of disciplines and methodologies, thus offering the reader a variegated and compelling picture of the directors’ works.

We are particularly interested in receiving proposals for chapters on his mid-career, from Fight Club to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. We would also be interested in his work outside of film theaters, such as his Netflix period and his pre-cinematographic work on commercials and music videos, as the division separating the various venues is becoming increasingly unclear.


Possible topics for this volume include (but are not limited to):

- Thematic and structural analysis of one or more films

- The supernatural

- Irony and humour

- Exploration of dreams and the subconscious

- Representations of childhood, parenting and ageing

- Class, sexuality, gender and queer readings

- Alienation and misperception, conformity/nonconformity

- Fear of the Other

- Social isolation and integration

- Psychological instability, sociopaths and madness

- Investigation

- Obsession

- Crime drama

- Science-Fiction, Fantasy, and the Fantastic

- Ethical and other philosophical issues

- Fincher’s use of source materials and adaptation/transmedia strategies

- Fincher’s use of television and streaming media

- Studies of his short works: commercials, video and television anthologies

- Comparisons or connections between Fincher’s commercials, music videos and cinematic work

- Creative dialogues between Fincher and his collaborators (Photography, designers, writers, artists), as well as with other directors.

- Music in Fincher’s films / David Fincher and Howard Shore, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

- Space and the filmic frame

- Special effects and their evolution

- The meaning and significance of colors

- Technology and the Environment

- Fincher and the arts

- Cultural studies and popular culture

- Fan practice and fan communities


Submit a 300-500 word abstract of your proposed chapter contribution, a brief CV and complete contact information to Francis Mickus (Francis.Mickus@etu-univ-paris1.fr) by 1 APRIL 2022.

Full chapters of 6,000-7,000 words will likely be due late April after signing a contract with the publisher.


Note: Acceptance of a proposed abstract does not guarantee the acceptance of the full chapter into the completed volume.