Call for Chapter Proposals: Doctor Who and History
Deadline: 1 September 2015 (contributors will be notified within two weeks of the deadline)
When Sydney Newman created a new family-orientated show for the BBC back in early 1963, he envisioned it as being, in John Reith’s terms, to “educate, inform and entertain”, one in which all stories “were to be based on scientific and historical facts as we knew them at that time”. It was no coincidence therefore that consequently the Doctor took on board the TARDIS a science teacher and a history teacher to learn from and share in his travels. “How wonderful,” Newman would later recall, “if today’s humans could find themselves on the shores of England seeing and getting mixed up with Caesar’s army in 54 BC, landing to take over the country; be in Rome burning as Nero fiddles; get involved in Europe’s tragic 30 years war, etc.” There would be no bug-eyed monsters, Newman warned, and the Doctor was not allowed to interfere in history, only to observe.
Over fifty years later, Doctor Who has itself become part of the cultural history of Britain, and its many stories across television, audio plays and books – whether set in the past or populated with the inevitable bug-eyed-monsters – have engaged directly and indirectly with important contemporary and historical issues, characters and events.
We invite contributions for an edited volume that focuses on Doctor Who and History: A Cultural Perspective. While there have been many publications recently celebrating the show’s longevity, or those reflecting on the programme as a product of the BBC as British institution, this volume focuses specifically on the topic of history. This publication promotes a scholarly and interdisciplinary approach to Doctor Who, exploring how the programme reflects on and contributes to notions of history.
Doctor Who engages with history in multifarious ways and can therefore reveal much about how history is practised, produced, consumed and remediated. Chapter proposals may therefore seek to explore Doctor Who from a diverse range of academic approaches (e.g. media studies; reception theory; fan studies; education) and should draw on and identify appropriate historiographical methods and debates. It is envisaged that the collection will speak both to the programme and to history as a subject area.
Your contribution may focus on the classic series, the reboot (or both), the Big Finish audios, original novels, or fan fiction.
That said, your contribution might focus on some aspect of
- Reflections in the programme of particular social and political eras and events
- How the show engages with historical cultural icons
- How the show expresses a continuing dialogue with literature, folklore, and mythology
- Tensions between academic and ‘public history’, between history from above and below
- How changing approaches to history and alterations in understanding of historical fact have impacted upon the show
- Non-canonical historical travels or themes
- The interaction of media and technologies in how they inform the practice of history in the programme
- Developments in the Doctor’s strict policy of non-intervention – or not
- Case studies of the ‘pure historicals’/pseudo historicals/celebrity historicals
Topics already under consideration include the depiction of Nero and the early Roman Empire in 1965’s The Romans, imagery of the Holocaust, focalisation techniques in lost story Marco Polo, and an investigation into the cultural practices and social sign-posting in The Awakening.
Proposals/abstracts should be 300-350 words in length and sent as a Word file. Accepted proposals will be developed into 5000-8000 word essays (including notes and references). Please send your abstract (and all correspondence) to Carey Fleiner, University of Winchester (firstname.lastname@example.org) James A. Jordan, University of Southampton (J.A.Jordan@soton.ac.uk) and Dene October, University of Arts London (email@example.com).
See https://doctorwhoandhistory.wordpress.com/. for details.
Dr Lincoln Geraghty FHEA, FRSA
Reader in Popular Media Cultures
School of Media and Performing Arts
University of Portsmouth