SGMS 2016 CALL: World-building in Asian Popular Cultures - Extended Deadline!

Frenchy Lunning's picture
Call for Papers
September 1, 2016
Minnesota, United States
Subject Fields: 
Cultural History / Studies, Asian History / Studies, Contemporary History, Humanities, Popular Culture Studies


SGMS 2016 CALL: World-building in Asian Popular Cultures

Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

September 23-25, 2016

Keynote: Mark J. P. Wolf

The Call for Mechademia 10 states: “Japanese popular culture — manga, anime, games, and SF — abound in scenarios in which our contemporary reality appears to be but one possible outcome within an open situation.”

Since Mechademia began, scholars and academics have addressed the way that dark narratives have been used to explore possible outcomes of open situations. Written in the context of Japan’s postwar period and continuing into the present, these dark narratives served as critiques of those conditions. However, within the 21st century, we are seeing alarming new developments that require more than critique, but instead, inspire creative action in response to the darkening turbulence of our cultural present.

For this conference, we propose the challenge of thinking of worldbuilding as a creative act, where narrative practices combine with new technologies to construct images, objects, texts, and performances of alternative worlds. We are not only looking at the dark implications of this moment in world history, but the creative interventions and possibilities that are found in the construction of alternate worlds, for future worlds, for saving worlds.

“Another world is possible” has already become the animating force behind a large body of cultural production within Japanese popular cultures. Examples include the construction of possible worlds, parallel universes, and parallel histories across a multitude of platforms. These practices can be read, not just as warnings, but as examples of how worlds can be, and are being, actively created.

We call for submissions that explore the aesthetic, mediatic, and technological dimension of these possible worlds, with an eye to the construction of inspiration and imagination within its circulation, as well as socio-political possibilities or potentiality. How might these worlds dismantle the rigid boundaries of concepts informing our current reality and reveal the glimmering potential of the unbounded reality that is the stable of such narratives?

We invite contributions that may consider or engage but are not limited by any of the following topics:

  • Popular culture frequently juxtaposes different realities in the form of alternative timelines or bifurcating temporalities. How might imaginative narratives jostling time and space function as axes of a potential alternate world reality?
  • How might worldbuilding address and even transform the dark portend of the Anthropocene?
  • How do new storytelling practices and forms of communication support worldbuilding across alternative locations and temporalities?
  • What is the role language plays in creating alternate worlds? Does one have to change language to create an altered reality? 
  • Science fictions often encourage us to approach history and broad societal currents in terms of ‘what if’ scenarios. Such scenarios invite us to understand history through counterfactual narrations.  But rather than dismiss such scenarios as non-factual, we ask: What are potential relationships to be found in the social and political implications of understanding our historical reality in such terms?
  • How do colonialism, social inequality and gender constitute frameworks toward the creation of alternate worlds? In what ways are these factors recontexualized in new fictional worlds?
  • How do musical scores and soundtracks create the affective atmospheres that shape worldbuilding practices in film, anime and gaming?

The deadline for submissions is now September 1, 2016

We welcome panel submissions as well as individual paper proposals and encourage emerging scholars (undergraduates and advanced high school students) to submit proposals to our Emerging Scholar sessions. All proceedings are held at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

You have the option of participating remotely via Zoom Room video conferencing if travel to the conference is a hindrance for you. This will enable you to virtually attend the full conference sessions, and to present on a panel.

The Millennium Hotel has conference rates, and as soon as we have confirmation on rates we will publish them.

The register as an attendee, or participant after receiving notification of acceptance, go to:

For Panel/Roundtable Submissions:

-Panel/Roundtable title:

-Panel/Roundtable participant names, email addresses, titles, and 150-200 word abstracts

For Individual Presentation Submissions:

Participant name, email address, title, and 150-200 word abstract

For Emerging Scholar Presentations (High School and Undergraduate Papers):

-Participant name, email address, title, and 150-200 word abstract

Deadline for submission is: September 1, 2016.

See our Facebook Page for details:

Keynote Speaker: Mark J.P. Wolf

Mark J. P. Wolf is a Professor in the Communication Department at Concordia University Wisconsin.  He has a B. A. (1990) in Film Production and an M. A. (1992) and Ph. D. (1995) in Critical Studies from the School of Cinema/Television (now renamed the School of Cinematic Arts) at the University of Southern California. 

His books include Abstracting Reality: Art, Communication, and Cognition in the Digital Age (2000), The Medium of the Video Game (2001), Virtual Morality: Morals, Ethics, and New Media (2003), The Video Game Theory Reader (2003), The Video Game Explosion: A History from PONG to PlayStation and Beyond (2007), The Video Game Theory Reader 2 (2008), Myst and Riven: The World of the D’ni (2011), Before the Crash: An Anthology of Early Video Game History (2012), the two-volume Encyclopedia of Video Games: The Culture, Technology, and Art of Gaming (2012), Building Imaginary Worlds: The Theory and History of Subcreation (2012), The Routledge Companion to Video Game Studies (forthcoming), Video Games Around the World (forthcoming from MIT Press), and two world-based novels for which he is looking for an agent and publisher.  He is also founder and co-editor of the Landmark Video Game book series from University of Michigan Press. 

He has been invited to speak in North America, Europe, Asia, and Second Life, and is on the advisory boards of Videotopia and the International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations, and on several editorial boards including those of Games and Culture, The Journal of E-media Studies, and Mechademia: An Annual Forum for Anime, Manga and The Fan Arts

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