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CFP: Children of the Post-apocalypse, cinema and television
Audiences have long been fascinated with images of an imagined apocalypse since the first sci-fi films of the early 20th century. Humanity’s search for a utopian existence has always been accompanied by the fearful counter-imaginings of a monumental dystopian collapse of civilization, a vision that has risen in popularity in film and television during the past two decades. Today’s struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic brings to the surface social and cultural anxieties about the fate of humanity in the face of such an unexpected and uncontained enemy. The nature of apocalypse and its aftermath become questions that even the youngest members of society, our children, are positioned to consider in these days of the pandemic. Recent post-apocalyptic films and television like Black Crab (2022), A Quiet Place 1-3 (2018, 2021, 2023), Awake (2021), and Songbird (2021, a film about a deadlier form of Covid), add to the growing trend of post-apocalyptic films and television with significant child or youth characters. Children are most often symbols of Futurity, as Lee Edelman has argued, and this collection aims to explore the child’s role in contemporary films and television that wallow in the aftermath and widespread devastation of world-wide disaster: nuclear war, alien invasion, ecological collapse, biological catastrophe, technological or cyber disasters, or divine judgment. In post-apocalyptic media, children have occupied conflicting positions—as harbingers of disaster, such as Children of the Damned (1964)—or as symbols of survival and hope, as in The Children of Men (2006). The child in many post-apocalyptic films occupies a unique space within the narrative, a space that oscillates between civilization and tribalism, human and animal, death and life, hope and despair, faith and nothingness. By exploring the ways the child character functions within a dystopian framework we may better understand how traditional notions of childhood may change and why or how they are tethered to sites of adult conflict and disaster, a connection that often works to reaffirm the “rightness” of past systems of social order.
Submissions are welcome that explore and interrogate the role of the child character or conditions of childhood in recent (after 2015) post-apocalyptic film or television. Analyses of international films and television are particularly desired Submissions may approach the topic from a variety of theoretical, philosophical, political, social, and cultural perspectives, but should follow the humanities style for critical articles. Chicago notes/bibliography citation style is preferred. For the purposes of this collection, the “post-apocalyptic” will be defined as film or television that shows, or infers, the after-effects of a world-wide (or inferred world-wide) catastrophe (alien invasion, biological, divine, nuclear, climate, etc) in which civilization or modernity is destroyed or severely depleted.
Please submit abstract (300-500 words) in Word, full contact information including affiliation, and a brief (50 word) biography. Acceptance of the abstract does not guarantee acceptance of the final chapter. Abstracts are due by June 10th, 2022 with full chapters due October 1, 2022.
This volume will be published by Lexington Books in the Children and Youth in Popular Culture series.
Dr. Debbie Olson, Associate professor of English, Missouri Valley College