***Upcoming Deadline*** Mental TV: Changing the Narrative of Mental Disorders on Television

deadline for submissions: 
October 15, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
SERIES: International Journal of TV Serial Narratives

SERIES - Call for Abstracts:

Mental TV: Changing the Narrative of Mental Disorders on Television


Over the past 15 years, fictional representations of mental and neurological disorders on television series have significantly increased. While past productions have been criticized for stigmatizing characters with a non-normative mental state, contemporary ones are praised for more sensitive and empathic portrayals. These TV shows and serials exist in a field of tension, either chided for misrepresenting pathologies, or lauded for medical accuracy, criticized for failing on an educational mandate, or praised for their accessibility and entertainment value. This dichotomy fails to acknowledge television’s artistic and creative potential to reinvigorate reflection about the cultural narrative of mental and neurological disorders and reimagine viewers’ acculturated values, beliefs, and attitudes. This issue delves into the potential of TV shows to challenge conventions of aesthetics, representation, and narration that go beyond a mere increase in visibility to impact audiences’ understanding of mental disorders. Specifically, we wish to explore TV shows’ medium-specific capabilities of representing non-normative mental states in new ways, and what effects such alternative narratives of mental and neurological disorders have on viewers and the cultural discourse.

Far from merely exchanging a neuro-normative for a neurodiverse main character, TV shows and serials have pushed the medium’s conventions of visual and narrative storytelling. To capture the volatile subjective experience of mental disorders, TV shows experiment with different forms of visualization, multiple (subjective) worlds, variations of genre, and alternative narrative structures and serial narration. Not limited to purely aesthetic or formal considerations, some shows demand to be considered from an intersectional perspective, turning non-normative mental states into a metaphor for marginalized subject positions. This issue aims to reflect the variety of audiovisual strategies and the interpretive effects of TV shows and serials representing and narrating experiences of mental illness.


In this special issue, we are interested in submissions that provide a critical assessment of representations of mental and neurological disorders in fictional television shows. In this, we adopt a broad understanding of mental disorders, including neurological and personality disorders and cultural discourses of mental illness. We welcome contributions that engage with the levels of representation and reception from a variety of different disciplinary perspectives and across cultures.

Areas of interest include, but are not limited to the following:

Aesthetics and Representation

  • New modes of representing and narrating mental and neurological disorders on fictional TV shows, including aesthetics, audiovisual, and structural forms
  • Ways in which contemporary fictional TV shows engage with or challenge harmful media tropes or cultural stigma
  • Intersectional approaches to narratives of mental and neurological disorders on fictional TV shows
  • Aesthetics, devices and televisual art forms of mental and neurological disorders.

Narration and Structure

  • Narrating non-normative mental states across cultural and national borders
  • Influence of industrial changes and modes of distribution on diversifying the means of representing and narrating non-normative mental states
  • Entanglement of medical, media, and cultural discourses in fictional TV shows
  • Interdisciplinary approaches, including affect theory, the cognitive sciences, the critical medical humanities, etc.
  • Processes of including and addressing the audience, and the (cultural) effects of this engagement


Please submit a 300-word abstract by October 15, 2023 to the special issue editors. Full papers of 5,000-8,000 words (including abstract, notes, and references) must be submitted before March 1, 2024 to undergo the peer-review process.

In their submissions, authors must indicate that it is an article for this special issue. Inquiries about the special issue should be addressed to both special issue editors, Melanie Kreitler (melanie.kreitler@anglistik.uni-giessen.de) and Marta Lopera-Mármol (mloperamarmol@uao.es).

Proposed articles must comply with the journal’s submission and style rules: https://series.unibo.it/about/submissions