Chapter proposals are invited for a proposed edited companion on the seminal television series The X-Files (1993-2018, Fox), its movies, spin offs (The Lone Gunmen, Millennium), and surrounding paratextual material (books, comics, fan fiction etc).
The X-Files became a cultural touchstone of the 1990s, transforming from a cult TV show into a pop cultural phenomenon by the end of the decade. The series’ themes and stories of mistrust of the government, conspiracy, folklore, UFOlogy, faith and spirituality resonated with post-Cold War Western society: X-Files ‘mythology’ became a defining narrative arc that has influenced many television shows since. The relationship between principle protagonists, Agents Mulder and Scully, became a source of fascination for fans (so-called ‘shippers’ that longed to see a sexual relationship develop between the characters) and the press alike (poring over offscreen rumours about lead actors David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson). The show’s prominence converged with early widespread use of the Internet, inspiring a proliferation of fan sites, while the show itself featured telecommunication enthusiasts, not least the underground hackers, The Lone Gunmen. Many of the shows slogans have entered the contemporary lexicon, from ‘trust no one’ to ‘I want to believe’.
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of The X-Files in 2023, this companion seeks to examine the content and production of the show, its reception, its use of legend and folklore, its contemporary resonance in politics and society of the twenty-first century, and its impact and legacy on film, television, the Internet and beyond. We want the companion to examine the show from as many theoretical perspectives as possible: critical; historical; political and social, as well as examining themes of folklore and legend; identity and representation; fandom; audiences; science and technology.
Proposals are sought for 6,000-word chapters. Topics may include, but are by no means limited to:
- Paranoia and conspiracy theories
- Political histories: Watergate, JFK, The Cold War, the Bush/Clinton eras
- Law and order: The X-Files in the Trump era, US politics, representation of the FBI
- Race, gender and sexuality
- Faith, religion, and spirituality
- The X-Files and the Internet: hackers, digital spying and surveillance
- Science and Technology of The X-Files
- X-Files mythology, lore and legend
- Folklore and contemporary legend in The X-Files
- UFOlogy, aliens, flying saucers
- Beliefand scepticism
- ‘Monster of the week’
- Genre (sci-fi, horror, romance) and Intertextuality
- Production aspects: screenwriting, music, cinematography, direction, behind-the-scenes
- Location: use of space, place and landscape
- The X-Files: a series ahead of its time?
- Impact and perspectives on contemporary television
- X-Files movies (Fight the Future and I Want to Believe)
- The reboot series (season 10 and 11) and spinoffs (including The Lone Gunmen and Millennium)
- Iconographic characters: Mulder and Scully, The Cigarette Smoking Man, Deep Throat
- Comics, books, merchandise, pop culture
- Fandom, cult audiences, fan fiction and ‘shippers’
The expansive companion seeks a unifying vision and so the editors will be working closely with authors to theme and craft chapters to ensure a consistency across the collection. We want to ensure a diversity of disciplinary voices as well as the full coverage of The X-Files as a cultural phenomenon and of its production contexts.
Abstracts of 250 to 300 words should be sent to James Fenwick (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Diane Rodgers (email@example.com) email in the first instance, along with a short biography and details of institutional affiliation, by 22 January 2021.