CFP "Small Screen Fictions"

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    Elizabeth Swanstrom

    Paradoxa, Issue in Preparation
    Volume 29, “Small Screen Fictions”
    Anticipated publication date: December, 2017

    Astrid Ensslin (Bangor University, Bangor, Wales)
    Paweł Frelik (Maria Curie-Sklodowska, Lublin, Poland)
    Lisa Swanstrom (Florida-Atlantic, Boca Raton, Florida, USA)

    In the last few decades, digital technologies have dramatically reconfigured not only the circumstances of media production and dissemination, but also many of their cultural forms and conventions, including the roles of users, producers, authors, audiences, and readers. Arguably the most spectacular of these digital transformations have affected the large screens of cinema multiplexes and the increasingly large screens of home televisions, but other narrative forms have emerged on a smaller screens as well.

    Today, with growing frequency, narratives are experienced on the smaller screens of laptops, tablets, and even mobile phones. These narratives often involve direct reader/viewer/player interaction, enabling highly idiosyncratic, individualized and unique narrative experiences. Some of these fictions are merely digitized or wikified versions of texts previously available in the codex form—their digital conversion affects some of the ways in which readers engage with them, but the basic structures of these narratives remain unchanged. Some others, however, have been written and designed (these two words often blur) specifically for these small screens. Their functionalities and affordances are not replicable in any other medial form, nor do they demonstrate an allegiance to any single pre-existing art form.

    Paradoxa seeks articles for a special issue devoted to “Small Screen Fictions.” Both in-depth analyses of individual texts and more general, theoretical discussions are invited. The genres and media of interest include but are not limited to:

    • DVD novels, such as Steve Tomasula’s TOC (2009);
    • literary-narrative video games and ludic, gamelike fictions whose principal interest is in offering innovative storytelling experiences, such as Chinese Room’s Dear Esther (2012) and Device6 (2013);
    • twitter and blog texts, such as Jennifer Egan’s “Black Box” (2012);
    • collectively written, locative online texts, particularly those breaking narrative linearity, such as Hundekopf (2007), The LA Flood Project (2013) and The Silent History (2013);
    • interactive graphic novels, such as Nam Le’s The Boat (2014);
    • genre-bending, dialogic hybrids, such as Blast Theory’s Karen (2015);
    • neo-hypertextual fictions enabled by user-friendly authoring software such as Twine;
    • physically distributed narratives that make use of small screen spaces, not merely to create and display fictions, but also to navigate, negotiate, and interact with real-world spaces through geo-caching or other means, such as Ingress (2013), Cartegram (2014), and Call of the Wild (2015).

    Similarly, possible approaches to such screen texts include but are not limited to:

    • the changing cultural patterns and expectations of engagement with narrative;
    • the reality and illusions of linearity and non-linearity;
    • the shifting nature of public and private spectatorship;
    • the role of touch and tactility, as well as other human senses in experiencing narratives;
    • the blurring of the verbal and the visual, of fact and fiction, of reading and writing, of natural and artificial;
    • the economic, social, and political contexts of authorship and readership of such texts;
    • the implications of such narrative experiences for the meaning(s) and perceptions of fiction, genre and literature.

    Abstracts of 500 words should be submitted by 1 March 2016 to the editors: Astrid Ensslin <>, Pawel Frelik <> Lisa Swanstrom <>. Authors of selected abstracts will be notified by 1 April 2016. Full drafts (6,000 to 8,000 words) will be due by 1 October 2016.

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