Call for Abstracts for an edited volume: "Avatar: The Last Airbender and Theology" in Lexington's "Theology and Pop Culture" series

Michael Riggins's picture
Type: 
Call for Papers
Date: 
November 1, 2021
Location: 
Texas, United States
Subject Fields: 
Asian History / Studies, Film and Film History, Philosophy, Popular Culture Studies, Religious Studies and Theology

Theology and Pop Culture is currently seeking papers for an edited volume on the intersection of the Avatar Universe and Theology. Essays should mainly concentrate on Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, but may also consider the graphic novels or the live action film if appropriate. Essays should be accessible to a lay reader, but focused on an academic audience. 

 

Since its release on Netflix, Avatar: The Last Airbender and its sequel series The Legend of Korra have surged in popularity as both shows gain a viewership far beyond what the creators envisioned for the franchise. Undergirding the series’ ability to cut to the heart of thorny issues about war, oppression, genocide, and redemption is a deep spirituality that focuses on maintaining balance in the world and in one’s own self and carrying that balance into one’s relationship with others. From Aang’s refusal to give up the teachings of the Air Nomad Monks and kill the Firelord to Iroh’s commitment to drawing wisdom from each of the four elements, Avatar continues to shape and reshape the spiritual, moral and theological imaginations of two generations. With the recent announcement of the Nickelodeon-backed Avatar Studios to expand and develop the Avatar Universe, one can be sure that Avatar will continue to be a cultural fixture in the years to come. 

 

This volume then seeks to deeply engage with the Avatar Universe at the intersection of theology and philosophy. While we understand that Avatar draws heavily from several Eastern religions and traditions, we welcome contributions from any religious tradition responding to the material while respectfully acknowledging that the object of study is outside of their own tradition. We welcome engagement with religious, spiritual, moral, or aesthetic aspects of the franchise. Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

  • Iroh’s redemptive love and the parable of the prodigal son

  • Katara, Feminist Theology, and the Northern Water Tribe

  • Toph and Disability Theology

  • The Avatar and Christology

  • Healing, Baptism, and the Spirit Oasis

  • Just war theory

  • Theology of monasticism and marriage 

  • Bending and dominion over nature

  • The origins of bending: lion-turtles and animal guides

  • The physical and spirit realms

  • Reincarnation and the Avatar Cycle

  • Determinism and Destiny

  • Liberation Theology and the Freedom Fighters

  • The political theology of the Equalizers

  • Identity and Koh, the Face Stealer

  • Aang, duty, and the guilt of a hundred years of absence    

  • Zuko and conversion

  • Iroh and conversion

  • Buddist non-violence and Aang’s hesitancy to kill

  • Eastern and Western Buddhist aesthetics in Avatar

  • Spiritual enlightenment versus earthly love

  • Individual character studies of any of the major characters 

 

Submission Guidelines:

If interested, please send an abstract of 300-700 words along with a CV to Michael Riggins at Mriggins1999@gmail.com and Anthony Cirilla at Acirilla@cofo.edu by November 1st, 2021. Notifications of acceptance will be delivered no later than January 3rd, 2022. Final drafts of all chapters between 5,000 and 7,000 words (specifications to accompany notice of acceptance) will be due by May 1st, 2022, and any editorial revisions will be completed by June 30th, 2022.

Contact Info: 

Contact Michael Riggins at Mriggins1999@gmail.com and Dr. Anthony Cirilla at Acirilla@cofo.edu

Contact Email: