Call for contributors: The Big Book of Microgenres (6/1/16)

full name / name of organization: 
Anne H. Stevens / University of Nevada, Las Vegas
contact email: 

The Big Book of Microgenres, edited by Molly C. O'Donnell and Anne H. Stevens

The term "microgenre" has come into use in the last decade or so to classify increasingly niche-marketed worlds in popular music, fiction, television, and the Internet. On Amazon you can find categories as microscopic as "Amish quilting mysteries," while the worlds of electronica and metal can be parsed into dozens of sub-sub-subgenres. Netflix's algorithms have identified 76,897 different microgenres, and the video service has used them to develop new series like House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black.

Although the term is new, the phenomenon is not. Popular culture has always relied on hyper-specific formulas and subgenres. This book, designed for both an academic and a general interest audience, will look at microgenres throughout history and across media as a way to explore some of popular culture's forgotten artifacts and surprising phenomena. What do eighteenth-century novels told from the perspective of objects like teacups and slippers have to do with early 1980s grindcore or Bulgarian chalga? They are all microgenre marvels. Like one-hit wonder musicians, microgenres can be overnight sensations that vanish as quickly as they appear, or they can gradually develop, collecting ever-nuanced attributes only to be folded into broader and more-recognizable categories later on.

The Big Book of Microgenres presents a previously untreated point of broad cultural curiosity, revealing the profound truth that humanity's desire to classify is often only matched by the unsustainability of the obscure and hyper-specific. The Big Book will also affirm, in colorful detail, what most people suspect but have trouble fathoming in an increasingly homogenized and commercial West: that imaginative projects are just that, imaginative, diverse, and sometimes completely and hilariously inexplicable.

Each contribution in this collection (1000-5000 words) will introduce readers to a different microgenre, drawn from a range of historical periods and from literature, film, music, and television. Each contributor will answer the following questions and will write in a lively, accessible style:
• What makes it a microgenre?
• Why is it interesting?
• How did it get started?
• What killed it, or does it still survive?
Contributors are encouraged to include illustrations such as title pages, album covers, or movie posters. The volume editors will write a critical introduction and conclusion and connective material to link the individual chapters and subsections.

If you are interested in contributing, please send a 50-500 word description of your proposed subject and a brief bio to Molly O'Donnell (molly.odonnell unlv.edu) and/or Anne Stevens (anne.stevens unlv.edu) by June 1, 2016.