Please note that we do not accept submissions of papers that are not related to our current calls for papers. We do, however, accept proposals for special issues.

Open Call for Papers:

Gender, Age, and the New Media

Guest edited by Ruth Gehrmann and Julia Velten

Ever since Susan Sontag attested a “Double Standard of Aging” (1972), the cultural dimensions of age and gender can be understood as interlocked. Women are affected disproportionately harder by this double standard as is prominently suggested by the different evaluations of wrinkles or gray hair. As the double standard pertains to women, it also affects notions of masculinity: Given that male performance tends to hinge on physical presence, age can appear in stereotypical readings of decline of masculine vigor and potency. Moreover, it may also relate to sexuality, favoring heteronormative life models in old age. Arguably, role-specific behavioral patterns are thus oriented toward both: age and gender. Unsurprisingly, these lines of demarcation are navigated in the domain of popular culture. Whether and how experiences of older age can be represented in these venues is inseparably tied a gendered dimension, which offers stereotypical frames, such as the cougar or the old grumpy man, through which representations of the aging body can be constrained. These popular cultural representations of gendered bodies have found critical attention in a variety of fields and disciplines, ranging from aging studies to the sociology of aging. Literary studies have attested for the intersectional experience of gender and age, for instance, in a Special Issue of Feminist Media Studies, Gendered Ageing Bodies in Popular Culture (2018), or in Sally Chivers’s study of disability and old age in the cinema, The Silvering Screen (2011).

While these engagements have established the intersectional experience of age and gender and its representations in the popular realm, this special issue wants to add to the discussion by shifting focus to a component that has received less attention in the past: the role of new media. As part of a technologized world, the realm of new media may at first appear disjunct from those who are perceived as old. As stereotypes migrate into digital space, common assumptions may hold that old age is associated with the non-digital, the domestic or the traditional. However, a closer investigation reveals these assumptions to be false. Specifically in a world shaped by the experience of Covid, the presence of older people in new media can be shown to be ubiquitous. Ranging from TikTok clips about older men who cannot understand empty supermarkets to grandmothers who stage their toned bodies – social media are filled with contents about older people. Yet despite this presence of older people, emerging research in new media has tended to focus on their relation to those deemed young as is suggested in publications like Young People, Social Media and Health edited by Victoria A. Goodyear and Kathleen M. Armour (2018).

This special issue aims at foregrounding research in the intersections of age, gender and the new media. It wonders: How are older bodies staged and gendered in the digital realm? How are stereotypes both reaffirmed and deconstructed in this process? Is gender performed along the lines of ‘youthful’ behavior to cater to a presumably young audience? Which role do new media’s aesthetics of representation and their claim on ‘realness’ play in staging gender and older age? How do concepts of gender, age and able-bodiedness intersect in new media? By following up on these questions, this special issue contributes to and draws from a variety of fields, such as gender studies, aging studies, disability studies and the sociology of aging. Further, the focus on the performance of gender in old age in new media sharpens an understanding of how these performances are re-negotiated in a digital space. Hereby, the special issue reinserts the (self-)representation of older people in new media into the scholarly discussion, thus emphasizing the variety of narratives that comprise the intersection of age and gender in the digital age.

Themes and possible topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Representations of gendered aged bodies in new media
  • The aesthetics and narrative framing of gendered older bodies on social media
  • Genre-conventions in representations of gendered older people on new media
  • Reaffirmations and deconstructions of stereotypical gendered aging
  • Intersections between gender, age, race and sexuality in new media
  • Agency in the gendered online presence of older people
  • The sexualization of older people in new med

Please send a 500-word abstract and a 150-word bio note by July 15 (changed deadline!) to the following email-addresses: gender-forum@uni-koeln.de, gehrmann@uni-mainz.de, juvelten@uni-mainz.de.

Autobiographical Notes

Ruth Gehrmann is a postdoctoral researcher in the Collaborative Research Center on Human Differentiation at Johannes Gutenberg-Universität in Mainz. Her research focuses on strategies of successful aging, and she is about to engage in a qualitative interview study. She is specifically interested in the representation of lifestyles of older people and investigates their narrative framing in popular and social media. She holds an M.A. in English and American Studies and her dissertation traced organ transplantation in literary and medical narratives.

Julia Velten is a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer at the Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies at Johannes Gutenberg-Universität in Mainz. She received her doctorate from there in 2021. She was a member of the DFG Research Group “Un/doing Differences: Practices of Human Differentiation” from 2016-2019 and was hosted as visiting PhD student at the Trent Centre for Aging and Society in 2017. In her postdoctoral research, she is interested in mechanisms through which different forms of knowledge are validated and omitted in literature and modern media. Her research focuses on aging, medical humanities, media studies, and intersectionality.


Closed Calls / Upcoming Issues:

Gender, Violence, and the State in Contemporary Speculative Fiction

Guest edited by Judith Rauscher and Marta Usiekniewicz

From its beginnings, speculative fiction across different media and genres has combined imaginaries of social and political organization with issues of gender and violence. Thomas More’s Utopia (1551), for example, imagined an egalitarian society that remained strictly patriarchal and a perfect government that ensured prosperity and peace by fighting preventive wars, administering capital punishment to adulterers, endorsing corporal punishment for unruly women and children, and encouraging (assisted) suicide. Whether we consider literary texts, film, TV series, comics, or other forms of cultural expression, contemporary speculative fiction continues to discuss (state-)violence and the gendered nature of socio-political relations. It shows how certain gender roles, certain kinds of gender expressions, and certain kinds of desires are normalized by the state and its institutions, while others are punished and obscured, whether through direct, structural, or cultural violence. Speculative fiction evokes the successes and failures of familiar as well as unfamiliar political systems together with the various communities and interpersonal relationships that these systems produce. In doing so, it allows us to reflect on the limitations and potentialities of the modern nation-state in the early twenty-first century as well as on the various threats to democracy that characterize our current moment. It also allows us to think critically about how gendered violence is intertwined with different political systems, about the kinds of violence that these systems legitimize and delegitimize, and about the ways in which issues of gender inform these processes of de-/legitimization.

This special issue of Gender Forum seeks contributions that draw from gender studies, queer studies, cultural violence studies, SF studies, and other pertinent fields to analyze representations of gender, violence, and the state in contemporary speculative fiction, which is to say in science fiction, fantasy, utopian and dystopian fiction, weird fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, near-future climate fiction, etc.

Possible topics for contributions include, but are not limited to:

  • Representations of (organized) social and political communities within and beyond the nation-state and violence in speculative fiction
  • Representations of non-violent communities/ non-violent forms of governance in SF media
  • Representations of war, terror, genocide, displacement, colonization, and slavery in SF media
  • Representations of marginalization, repression, desocialization, and dehumanization in speculative fiction as well as representations of resistance against such kinds of violence
  • Intersections between gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, age, and dis/ability in speculative fiction concerned with (state-)violence
  • Representations of violent women* and LGBTQI* individuals in speculative fiction
  • The aesthetics and the aesthetization of (gendered) violence in speculative fiction
  • Analyses of the affective, cognitive, intimate, physical, psychological, and epistemological dimensions of (state-)violence in speculative fiction
  • Discussions of cultural narratives used to legitimize (gendered) violence in speculative fiction and critical revisions of such narratives
  • Representations of alternative familial, communal, societal, and political structures and questions of (non-)violence in speculative fiction
  • Posthumanist, feminist, queer, anti-racist, postcolonial, de-colonial, and ecocritical perspectives on representations of (state-)violence in speculative fiction
  • Interrogations of technocratic and ecological violence in speculative fiction across the media

Please note that all submissions must have a strong emphasis on issues of gender. Abstracts of no more than 300 words and a brief biography should be submitted by March 31, 2021 to judith.rauscher[at]uni-koeln.de. The deadline for the completed papers of 5000-8000 words (MLA style, numbered paragraphs) is September 30, 2021.

Gender and Queer Identities in Australian Speculative Fiction

Guest edited by Bettina Burger, David Kern, Lucas Mattila

The field of Australian Speculative Fiction thus far remains an underappreciated and therefore notoriously undertheorized field of cultural production. Yet its very diversity and range means that it hosts a site of productive potential for literary scholars from a number of different theoretical orientations. Postcolonial, ecocritical, inter- and transcultural approaches to Australian Speculative Fiction offer fruitful avenues for critical exploration. Scholars concerned with migration, diaspora, Asian Anglophone literature, and Indigenous Australian writing will find ample material to analyse within the broad genre of Australian Speculative Fiction, consisting of such genres as fantasy, science fiction, gothic, horror, magic realism, dystopian writing and many others. Often overlooked, these genres might offer unique insights into the dynamics of often marginalised gender and sexual identities – perhaps all the more so, because these genres are, by definition, open to experimentation and subversion, which lend themselves to challenging heteronormative structures.

This guest-edited issue of Gender Forum aims to account for Australian Speculative Fiction at its intersection with gender and queer studies, which we consider a particularly fruitful approach because gender and sexual identity seem to be frequent concerns of many writers of Australian Speculative Fiction. The prominence of female writers of Australian fantasy, for example, has been noted by scholars and fans alike, but there are a variety of other ways in which Australian Speculative Fiction can be approached through a lens of gender and queer studies.

Themes and possible topics by may include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Gender / Sexuality / Queerness in early Australian Speculative Fiction texts
  • Queer readings of Australian Speculative Fiction
  • Queer characters in Australian Fanatasy literature
  • Issues of Gender, Sexuality and Queerness and the Australian literary market
  • Women in Australian Fantasy Literature
  • Gender roles in Speculative Fiction – Australia vs. worldwide
  • Masculinity / Femininity in Australian Speculative Fiction
  • Intersections between representation of gender / sexuality in East Asian Anglophone (Australian) Speculative Fiction and Australian Speculative Fiction
  • Intersections of racism and gendered forms of discrimination in a postcolonial context
  • Indigenous takes on gender and sexuality
  • New concepts of gender in Australian Speculative Fiction
  • Intersectionality in Australian Speculative Fiction
  • Queer Speculative YA Fiction and short fiction
  • The role of anthologies in promoting queer speculative short fiction in Australia (Kindred OzYA, Kaleidoscope etc.)
  • Australian Speculative Fiction as a unique site for addressing gender and sexuality- based configurations
  • Changes in the depictions of gender / sexuality in the history of genres
  • Challenging heteronormative structures and/or concepts of masculinity in early Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy

We invite proposals of up to 300-350 words for scholarly essays with a strong focus on gender, sexuality and queer identities in relation to one or several of the above topics (suggestions for additional ones are welcome). The deadline for submission of proposals (MLA Style) is June 17, 2021. Proposals should include a short bio note. If a proposal is accepted, manuscripts of 5000-8000 words (MLA Style and numbered paragraphs) will be due July 22, 2021. Please send your submissions to australianprojectnrw[at]gmail.com and gender-forum [at]uni-koeln.de

Publication date: Fall 2021

Early Career Researchers IX

In order to encourage the next generation of academics, the interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed e-journal gender forum launched its first annual Early Career Researchers Issue in October 2013. Now every year sees a special issue dedicated to presenting the work of emerging researchers in the fields of literary and cultural studies, media studies, and cultural history. In the ECR Issues of Gender Forum, we seek to promote the independent scholarly work of advanced B.A. students, M.A. students, and PhD students in the earlier phases of their PhD. Proposals and papers submitted by scholars who have completed their PhD or by teams involving one or more scholars with a PhD cannot be published in our ECR issues.

Contributions for the upcoming ninth Early Career Researchers Issue may be pieces of academic writing composed specifically for the occasion or previously unpublished term papers or final theses adapted for the issue. Please note that given the journal’s focus, all submissions must engage with topics and theories relevant to Gender Studies, Feminist Criticism, Masculinity Studies, Transgender Studies or Queer Studies. Papers highlighting the intersections of issues of gender and sexuality with other social categories of difference.

Abstracts of 300 words plus a brief biography (150 words max.) should be sent to gender-forum[at]uni-koeln.de by March 31, 2022. The deadline for the completed papers (4000-6000 words) in MLA style (version 8) is June 15, 2022.

Publication date: Fall 2022

Guest Editors: Alexandra Novakov (Media Studies/ American Studies) & Sara Tewelde-Negassi (American Studies/ Science Fiction) 
Supporting Editor: Jun.-Prof. Dr. Judith Rauscher

Target articles should conform to current MLA Style (8th edition) and should be between 5,000 and 8,000 words in length. Please make sure to number your paragraphs and include a bio-blurb (including your contact information) and an abstract of roughly 300 words. Files should be sent as email attachments in Word format. Please send your manuscripts to gender-forum”AT”uni-koeln.de.

We always welcome reviews on recent releases in Gender Studies! Submitted reviews should conform to current MLA Style (8th edition), have numbered paragraphs, and should be between 750 and 1,000 words in length. Please note that the reviewed releases ought to be no older than 24 months. In most cases, we are able to secure a review copy for contributors.

Publishers are welcome to send us new publications pertaining Gender Studies. Please send review copies, review suggestions, queries or submissions to gender-forum”AT”uni-koeln.de.

Books and audiovisual media currently up for review (other suggestions welcome):

RuPaul, creator. RuPaul’s Drag Race. MTV, 2009-present.

Casselberry, Judity and Elizabeth A. Pritchard, ed. Spirit on the Move. Black Women and Pentecostalism in Africa and Diaspora. Duke UP, 2019.

Strongman, Roberto. Queering Black Atlantic Religions. Transcorporeality in Candomblé, Santería, and Vodou. Duke UP, 2019.

Sulimma, Maria. Gender and Seriality: Practices and Politics of Contemporary US Television. Edinburgh UP, 2021.