CFP: Telling & Retelling Stories: (Re)imagining Popular Culture

Wayne State University, Detroit
Stichtag: 30.11.2018

How do we think productively about retelling, remaking, and rebooting? What is at stake in recapitulation for developing new imaginaries, new futures? Why, ultimately, are we retelling stories?

“Retelling,” can appear as a symptom of manic nostalgia, as Simon Reynolds outlines in Retromania. Retelling may also relate to what Dominic Fox has described as as the depressive feeling “that the world is frozen and nothing new is possible.” Either case plays into capitalist realism’s recursive vision of a world with “no alternative(s).” However, instead of reaffirming that our tendency for remaking, revising, and rebooting is simply the high-water mark of cultural burnout, we want to ask what retelling, revisiting, and reimagining may teach us about how we are thinking of the present, and if such retelling can orient us toward a renewed sense of the future? What do these repetitions and reworkings tell us about our efforts to survive in the present by reconnecting with our past? Furthermore, what can popular culture’s unique relationship to collectives (fandoms, forums, subcultures) tell us about subversive and radical potential after modernity? In what ways does retelling remain open to productive forms of experimentation?

What are the possibilities for retelling to gather counter-cultural, post-capitalist, or emancipatory energies? Thinking about retelling includes efforts to articulate speculative and revisionist imaginaries, narratives in which the experience of cultural, racial, and sexual erasure are retold. Visual retellings, such as Hidden Figures, Wormwood, 120 Beats Per Minute; graphic retellings, such as Red Rosa, Louis Riel, and Persepolis; and the long history of sampling, covering, and rerecording in music, are all animated by an effort to bring to light affects associated with dislocation to reconceptualise our continuity with the past. All these works aestheticize the experience of cultural and historical dislocation, and in confronting the experience of fragmentation propose alternative forms of continuity. What does retelling teach us about dislocation and our ability to re-find ourselves?

We are excited to welcome Matt Yockey, Associate Professor of Film & Media Studies at the University of Toledo, editor of Make Ours Marvel: Media Convergence and a Comics Universe (University of Texas Press, 2017), and author of Batman (TV Milestone Series, Wayne State University Press, 2014) as our keynote speaker for this conference.

Topics might include the following:
• Rebooting as hauntology.
• Historical narratives in comics, film, and/or games.
• Redefining identities through retelling, re-enactment, and revisionist histories, including but not
limited to national identity, race, gender, and sexuality.
• Creating and/or navigating diverse spaces for fan engagement (digital and real).
• Futurisms and Pessimisms: Afrofuturism, Afropessimism, Sinofuturism.
• The role of the fan as archivist, and/or keeper or cultural memory.
• Gendered and/or racialized collectives and the need for collective retelling („fangirls“, „fanboys“,
• Retelling as a genre mediated by the interaction of producers and consumers.
• Retelling as speculative strategy.
• Transmedia and recollection: memory, mediums, and materiality.
• Appropriation, white-washing, and erasure in retelling.
• Pedagogies of retelling, how retelling builds/reinforces tactics for everyday living.
• Images and reimaginings of Detroit in popular culture
• Popular culture outside of the U.S.: world cinemas, music, comics, television
• Popular culture throughout history/historicizing popular culture

Note: Preference will be granted to proposals that engage with the conference theme, but we look forward to accepting proposals related to all aspects of popular culture: film, television, comics/graphic novels, music, video/tabletop/board games, social media, fandoms/audiences, etc.

Paper Proposals: Paper proposals must include an abstract of 300-500 words, and a biography of 100 words or less.

Interactive Roundtables: Interactive roundtables may have up to 5 presenters. Interactive roundtable proposals must include a brief explanation of topic (250-500 words), 5-10 discussion questions, a list of presenters which identifies the moderator, and a biography of 100 words or less for each presenter.

Workshops: Workshops may have up to 3 facilitators. Workshop proposals must include a brief explanation of topic (250-500 words), a list of facilitators, and a biography of 100 words or less for each facilitator. Workshop proposals should be skill-focused and can be: creative, research-oriented, or pedagogy-oriented.

Proposals are due November 30, 2018, and should be submitted to

Presenters will be notified of acceptance into the conference via email by December 14, 2018.
All inquiries should be sent to

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