Context is for Kings - An Edited Collection on Star Trek: Discovery

Sabrina Mittermeier's picture
Type: 
Call for Papers
Date: 
April 15, 2018
Subject Fields: 
American History / Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Film and Film History, Popular Culture Studies, Women's & Gender History / Studies

51 years after Star Trek: The Original Series first aired on U.S. American TV, Star Trek: Discovery is updating the franchise for the 21st century. Like TOS was in the 60s, Discovery is firmly rooted in the zeitgeist and current political climate—a fact that has led to surprising amount of backlash from some corners of the fandom. Thanks to the advantage of streaming platforms over network television, the series is also updating the largely episodic structure of the earlier installments to a more serial and coherent storytelling that allows for longer narrative arcs as well as a focus on in-depth character development.

Set 10 years before The Original Series, Discovery is notably darker than any of the previous iterations of the franchise. Depicting the Federation at war with the Klingon Empire, the first season raises questions about identity and othering, war and trauma, and the conflict between idealism and pragmatism. It explores how Starfleet, an organization ostensibly dedicated to exploration and diplomacy, deals with the ethical questions surrounding war, and the lengths people are willing to go to win. These questions are deepened and complicated by the fact that the series, unlike any of the previous entries in the Star Trek canon, focuses not exclusively on the crew of the U.S.S. Discovery and the United Federation of planets, but also presents the events from the point of view of the Klingon Empire. A foray into the Mirror Universe dominated by the fascist Terran Empire throws Starfleet’s ideals and the characters’ struggles to live up to them into even sharper relief. 

In addition to the questions raised by the narrative, Discovery has continued the franchise’s commitment to representing diversity on screen. Featuring a woman of color in the lead role, a racially and ethnically diverse main and supporting cast, and introducing the franchise’s first gay couple (played by out gay actors), the show is even more inclusive than any of the previous Star Trek series. Discovery thus has once more proven Star Trek’s continued cultural relevance and has, after only one season, already warranted an in-depth academic study that engages with the series from the perspectives of a variety of academic disciplines, such as cultural studies, gender and queer theory, political science, philosophy, and more.

We thus invite contributions to an edited collection to be published with a notable international publishing house or University Press.

We already have contributions on:

  • Military Femininities (Admiral Cornwell, Captain/Emperor Georgiou, Michael Burnham, L’Rell, Silvia Tilly/Captain Killy)
  • Gabriel Lorca, Ash Tyler and the Question of Masculinity
  • “‘Lorca, I’m Gonna Miss Killing You:’” Possible Worlds and Counterfactuals in Star Trek: Discovery
  • Fan Reception and Discussions of Political and Social Values in Discovery
  • Cultural Relevance/Zeitgeist of TOS and Discovery in comparison

List of other possible topics can include, but are not limited to:

  • Questions of racial diversity in casting and narrative
  • Representation of femininities and masculinities
  • LGBTQ representation on and off screen
  • Depictions of war and trauma (portrayal of PTSD, torture, rape)
  • Fandom (Fanart, fanfiction, conventions, cosplaying, etc.)
  • The role of social media and resulting changes to fandom/fan engagement
  • Discovery’s relationship to the Star Trek canon and expanded universe (TOS, TNG, DS9, VOY, ENT; Star Trek novels)
  • Serial storytelling and world building
  • The portrayal of non-human/alien races, particularly the Klingon Empire and the Kelpien Saru
  • The role of Science Fiction in the current political moment
  • Discovery’s vision(s) of the future
  • Depiction of scientific exploration (in general, and its conflict with the war effort in particular)
  • Questions of moral philosophy and ethics

The deadline for submissions is April 15, 2018. Please include an abstract (300 words) on the topic you would like to write on, plus a short bio-blurb, and send it as a pdf to Mareike Spychala, M.A. (mareike.spychala@uni-bamberg.de) and Dr. des. Sabrina Mittermeier (Sabrina.Mittermeier@pecess.de).  

We will inform all participants by May 15, and full papers (6500-8000 words in length) will have to be submitted by October 31, 2018

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