CfP: Publikation Special Issue of LWU: Serial Narratives

Publikation: Special Issue of LWU (Literatur in Wissenschaft und Unterricht): “Serial Narratives”

Stichtag: 1. April 2014

Since the nineteenth century, serial narration has been a preferred mode of popular storytelling. From serialized novels to comic strips and film serials, from radio plays and television series to video games, and digital forms of storytelling—serial narratives have proven to be an effective means of attracting and engaging mass audiences, especially when new technologies (like color printing in newspapers) and new media (like film, radio, television, and the Internet) emerge. Producers rely on recurrent characters, ongoing storylines, and delayed narrative closure in order to generate audience desire for future installments. In that regard, serial narratives essentially promote themselves and the medium in which they appear, as consumers must continue to read, watch, or listen over extended periods of time if they want to gain access to the full story. Serial narratives make perfect economic sense from the producers’ point of view, then, but they also provide various pleasures for their audiences. The particular appeal of a television series, to name just one example, may lie in ritualized viewing practices, in a longterm emotional engagement with fictional characters and their experiences, or in creative responses like fan fiction.

Existing studies of nineteenth-century serialized novels, early comic strips, and contemporary television shows seldom look at serialization as a dynamic practice that crosses media boundaries and constantly adapts to the ever-changing media landscape and its latest technological innovations. This special issue of LWU seeks to explore narrative, cultural, and historical dimensions of serial narratives in an effort to come to terms with their changing forms and functions within the field of popular culture. We are interested in questions relating to the production and reception of serial narratives in the past and present. How can the evolution of serial forms be understood within particular theoretical frameworks? How does the sprawl of serial narratives across different media challenge established notions of authorship, narrative closure, and cultural legitimacy? How does it work to increase audience loyalty and engagement? How do authors and producers respond to new modes of consumption that differ from the ritualized experience of daily, weekly or monthly installments? Do DVD sets, VOD services, and streaming, for example, demand new narrative strategies and storytelling techniques to satisfy the binge or repeat viewer of television series? What effect has the “second screen” on viewing experiences and (the semblance of) audience participation?

We invite theoretical reflections as well as analyses of individual serial narratives. Please send an abstract of 250-300 words and a short CV to

The deadline for abstracts is April 1, 2014. All accepted essays have to be submitted by November 1, 2014.

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