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Volume CFPs

CFP: Mechademia 10

World Renewal – Counterfactual Histories, Parallel Universes, and Possible Worlds

In the wake of the disasters and tragedies of 3.11, the cry “Another world is possible” becomes all the more urgent. And so, we ask: How can counterfactual histories, parallel universes, and possible worlds of Japanese popular culture and media formations contribute to recognizing and ending the class warfare that underlies the maintenance of nuclear energy and entrenched forms of socio-historical inequality, and thus contribute to the formation of another world?

From the 1980s to the present, critique of popular culture in Japan has consistently emphasized a problem with narrative. Recent attention has shifted to other forms and practices, such as character (kyara), worlds, and fan repurposing. Narrative has been largely ruled out or dismissed, and often history as well. Nonetheless, our goal here is not a return to narrative analysis, but rather to call attention to the implications of the rise of modalities such as characters and worlds for storytelling and history.  As such, we invite contributions that deal with this specific question:

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. What are the implications of such an understanding of our reality?

We envision some of the following lines of inquiry.

Counterfactual Histories.  Science fictions often encourage us to approach history in terms of ‘what if’ scenarios — what if there were aliens behind the emperor-system, or what if there were a battle between superheroes during WWII?  Such scenarios invite us to understand history through counterfactual situations.  But rather than dismiss such scenarios as non-factual, we ask: What are the social and political implications of understanding our historical reality in such terms?

Parallel Universes.  Popular culture frequently juxtaposes different realities in the form of alternative timelines or bifurcating temporalities.  Here narrative does not hinge on teleological movement (grand or petty) but opens questions of temporality and temporal experience.  Thus, instead of assuming that such scenarios destroy story-telling or historical movement, we ask: What kinds of storytelling practices and forms of communication emerge across bifurcating temporalities?

Possible Worlds.  Attention to the role of character in media mix and fan practices has highlighted the importance of media and technologies in the formation of “worlds” and “worldviews.” And so, we call for submissions that explore the mediatic and technological dimension of these possible worlds, with an eye to the construction of value within circulation as well as socio-political possibilities or potentiality of Japanese popular culture.

Submissions for Mechademia 10 are due January 6, 2014 to submissions AT

General Submission Guidelines

Essays may be up to 5,000 words in length, with shorter pieces also welcome, and we will consider submissions in creative, non-traditional formats as well.


Download the Mechademia Style Guide (vers. 4.0, July 2011) – pdf format


Please contact Wendy Goldberg, Submissions Editor
submissions AT


Frenchy Lunning, Editor-in-Chief, Mechademia
frenchy AT



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