Godzilla at 70: The Giant Monster’s Legacy in Global Popular Culture

deadline for submissions: 
January 15, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Steve Rawle/York St John University
contact email: 

Call for Papers: "Godzilla at 70: The Giant Monster’s Legacy in Global Popular Culture"

A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787).

 

The 3rd of November 2024 is Godzilla’s 70th birthday, marking the anniversary of the release of Honda Ishiro’s Gojira in 1954. The film’s legacy is immense, as one of the most significant exports of Japanese culture. To mark this milestone, this Special Issue will explore that legacy and impact. The first part of the twenty-first century has witnessed a global renaissance for giant monsters. While giant monsters have been a recurring feature of classical mythology and twentieth century film and television, the early part of this century has been marked by a global expansion of popular culture expressions of gigantic monstrosity. Whether this is the resurrected figures of Godzilla and King Kong, the giant mutant dinosaurs of the Jurassic World films, the Mind Flayer in Stranger Things, or Cthulhu’s fleeting appearance in the HBO adaptation of Lovecraft Country, huge monsters have left significant footprints on mainstream popular culture. 

 

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters has brought the “Big G” to AppleTV+, but new Japanese media have also featured strongly in this global renaissance: animated Toho features Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters (GodzillaKaiju wakusei, 2018), Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle (GodzillaKessen Kidō Zōshoku ToshiI, 2018) and Godzilla: The Planet Eater (Godzilla: Hoshi o Kū Mono, 2018) Godzilla Singular Point (Gojira Shingyura Pointo, 2021), Kadokawa’s anime Gamera Rebirth (2023), and Production I.G.’s adaptation of Shimizu Eiichi’s Ultraman manga (2019-2023) have all been brought to international audiences by Netflix. Toho’s live action films, Shin Gojira (2016) and Godzilla Minus One (Gojira Mainasu Wan, 2023) have both received (or are about to receive) international distribution and some critical acclaim, representing a return to the nuclear-inspired roots of the first Gojira film.

 

This Special Issue will explore the cultural significance and fascination with mega-sized monsters in Godzilla’s wake. While smaller monsters, such as vampires, werewolves, and especially zombies, have received significant focus in many academic works, the biggest monsters have often been left less explored. This Special Issue looks to address this gap in order to explore the contemporary fascination with giant monsters, their meanings and audiences. The most famous giant monsters in popular culture—often referred to using the Japanese term kaiju (lit. strange beasts)—have generally been seen as metaphors for global cultural anxieties (Barr, 2016), problematic depictions of race (Erb, 2009), as reflections of historical environmental concerns (Rhoads and McCorkle, 2018), representations of ‘imaginations of disaster’ (Sontag, 2009; Napier, 1993) or, more conventionally, as a specifically Japanese response to the trauma of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings (Tsutsui, 2004, and many others). Contemporary depictions both extend and intensify such discourses while simultaneously reinterpreting such creatures. Therefore, this Special Issue invites contributions that engage with depictions of giant monsters in all forms of global popular culture (including, but not limited to, film, television, video games, comics and literature), with proposals looking at a range of theoretical perspectives, such as monster theory, gothic studies, ecocriticism, post-colonialism and transnationalism, critical race theory, cult media studies, fandom and audience studies, being particularly welcome.

 

Works cited

Barr, Jason (2016), The Kaiju Film: A Critical Study of Cinema’s Biggest Monsters. Jefferson: McFarland.

Erb, Cynthia (2009), Tracking King Kong: A Hollywood Icon in World Culture. 2nd ed. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.

Napier, Susan J. (1993), ‘Panic Sites: The Japanese Imagination of Disaster from Godzilla to Akira’, The Journal of Japanese Studies 19 (2): 327–51.

Rhoads, Sean, and Brooke McCorkle (2018), Japan’s Green Monsters: Environmental Commentary in Kaiju Cinema. Jefferson: McFarland.

Sontag, Susan (2009), ‘The Imagination of Disaster’, in Against Interpretation and Other Essays by Susan Sontag, 209–25. London: Penguin.

Tsutsui, William (2004), Godzilla on My Mind: Fifty Years of the King of Monsters. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

 

Submissions:

If you are interest in contributing to this issue, please send a 250-word abstract to s.rawle@yorksj.ac.uk by 15th January 2024. Please also address any queries to me at the same address.

 

Timeline:

15th January 2024: abstract deadline

29th January 2024: acceptance notifications sent

1st August 2024: deadline for first drafts

3rd November 2024: issue launch at ‘Godzilla at 70’ symposium