[Air-L] CFP New Genre Studies Anthology (Abstracts Aug 1)

Jonathan Cohn cohn at ualberta.ca
Fri May 21 14:42:00 PDT 2021

Hi all, we would love to get submissions from AoIR members.  Happy to answer any questions if you have them!

Jonathan Cohn, Jennifer Moorman, Samantha Noelle Sheppard <mailto:sheppard at cornell.edu>
Abstracts/Proposals (300 words) due August 1st
Chapters (no longer than 6000 words) due Feb 1st
Send abstracts and questions to cohn at ualberta.ca
Genre profoundly shape the pleasures and disappointments of media spectatorship. Whether watching a film, binging a series, playing a game, surfing the web, or scrolling through social networks, genre shapes our expectations.  

Yet, genre has not been a central concern of media studies since the 1980s and the early scholarship of the likes of Rick Altman, Thomas Cripps, Carol Clover, Jane Feuer, Vivian Sobchack and Linda Williams.  In some areas of media studies (most notably video games and new media), serious discussions of genre are almost non-existent.  Where it is present, it is--with some important exceptions--typically eurocentric.  Media and genre are often opposed to one another as two discrete ways of categorization and the field has largely sided with media as the more helpful, productive, and critical of the two.  Since the 80s, media studies has built itself up by tearing genre studies down.  

In fetishizing media, our field has overlooked the possibility that often when we say ‘media’, we really mean ‘genre.’  How many arguments over whether or not TV as a medium turns you into a ‘couch potato,’  the Internet makes you active, or VR makes you empathetic could be quickly settled if framed as an effect of particular genres instead? Or consider Lev Manovich’s canonical The Language of New Media, which seeks to point out the similarities between new media and the montage heavy city symphony, Man With a Movie Camera. He ends up having to ignore vast swaths of new media in order to make his comparison work: insodoing, new media becomes a genre.

But genre may right now be a far more helpful heuristic for the questions many of us currently ask.  The way we engage with a piece may have far more to do with its genre than medium.  The way we consider and judge a piece’s depictions of our cultural, economic, and political reality are also shaped first and foremost by genre.  While discourses around media are typically interested in defining clear distinctions between media, genre is valued for being a far looser form of categorization that privileges connections, overlaps, and hybridity. Genre is also transmedial and can readily help to show the connections between media. These are just a few of the avenues that a more fulsome discussion of genre could lead us down.

Starting from these provocations, we seek to revitalize discussions of genre in media studies by providing a showcase for some of the most exciting work in the area. In this anthology, we ask the question of whether organizing our field around media was a mistake or not.  Would we have been able to better confront and consider the many central debates and dead ends of media studies over the last three decades if we had started by centering on genre rather than media, or at least setting them up as equals.  What other potential difficulties and problems may have arisen instead? New media had its  moment; now it’s time to consider what new genres can do.

We are especially seeking papers on the following or similar topics:

New Genres across media
Non-Western Genres
Genres of the dispossessed
The culture, politics, and/or economics of genrification
Forgotten and misunderstood genres
Genre as embodiment and/or interactivity
Genres, historicity, and historiography

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