Call for contributions: Small Screen Revelations: apocalypse and prophecy in contemporary television

Editor: Marcus O’Donnell
Publisher: Sheffield Phoenix Press
Series: Apocalypse and Popular Culture
Series Editor: Dr John Walliss
Publication date: late 2009

Contributions are required for a new collection of essays that explores the apocalyptic and prophetic in contemporary television drama and news reportage. It will form part of the Sheffield Phoenix Apocalypse and Popular Culture Series which is being produced in association with the Hope Centre for Millennialism Studies at Liverpool Hope University.

The volume will explore the intersection of apocalyptic and prophetic archetypes, story patterns, motifs and characters in contemporary televisual storytelling and reportage. Although the volume is specifically focused on essays which analyse the manifestations of these biblical genres in contemporary popular form we are interested in a wide variety of interdisciplinary perspectives that draw upon the resources of cultural studies, screen studies, journalism and media studies, sociology, political science, religious studies, anthropology, theology and biblical studies.

While a number of collections have explored cinematic representations of the apocalyptic, comparatively little work has been produced on the specifically televisual dimensions of contemporary apocalyptics. This volume aims to begin to map this area. One of the unique approaches of this volume is the decision to survey both television drama as well as news and current affairs. Raymond Williams famously described television production and consumption as “flow” which incorporates a collage of televisual experience ranging through drama, news and advertising. One of the underlying assumptions of this volume is that there are a range of important connections that deserve sustained analysis in the flow between apocalyptic images of the nightly news and apocalyptic scenarios of contemporary TV drama. We are interested in contributions which treat either of these domains separately but particularly welcome essays which seek to draw connections between the dramatic and the documentary. In either case authors should address the current cultural and political context as well as the aesthetic and biblical dimensions of contemporary television productions.

The volume will focus on post 2000 productions although space will be given to important 1990’s precursors to the current crop of apocalyptic television series. Consideration will be given to essays which focus on earlier works if the proposal is particularly strong and includes an analysis which draws out connections/contrasts with contemporary productions or issues. Essays which focus on a single series or moment of reportage as well as essays which follow a particular theme across a number of different programs or television genres are both welcome.

The following general areas have been identified as a possible structure for the volume but at this stage it is only indicative and should not be read as precluding other concerns:
1. The monstrous and strange: revelations, visions and supernatural signs
2. The final conflict: good versus evil and apocalyptic violence
3. Remnant communities in apocalyptic times
4. Comings and goings at the end: the raptured and the returned
5. Fate and fatalism in contemporary televisual apocalyptics
6. Prophets and preachers of the end: contemporary jeremiads

Essays dealing with one or more of the following television series are particularly welcome but again it is an indicative rather than a prescriptive list:
• 24
• Angel
• Babylon Five
• Battlestar Galactica
• Buffy
• Carnivale
• Jericho
• Lost
• Millennium
• Revelations
• Supernatural
• Star Trek
• The 4400
• The Second Coming
• Twin Peaks
• X Files

Essays dealing with one or more or of the following aspects of contemporary television news reportage are also particularly welcome but again the list is indicative only:
• News of wars and rumours of wars: apocalyptic nightly news
• The fate of the earth: science and nature documentaries
• Journalistic jeremiads
• Reporting of Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters
• Reporting environmental crisis
• Televising terror: live broadcast journalism after September 11
• Routine television news values and the apocalyptic
• Reporting from the developing world: othering the apocalypse


Email proposals should be sent to the editor ( by 5 May 2008. Proposals should include a chapter abstract of up to 500 words and a brief biographical note that details the author’s academic affiliations and relevant publication history. Where possible copies of previously published articles in the area or thesis chapters should also be included. Confirmation of acceptance should be finalised by early August 2008 and initial drafts of chapters will be expected by March 2009 with a publication date of late 2009. Final contributions should range between 6,000 – 10,000 words with more space applying to those who take a broad comparative approach.

Preliminary email enquiries and/or early proposals to the editor are welcome and encouraged.

Marcus O’Donnell
School of Journalism and Creative Writing
University of Wollongong

Apocalypse and Popular Culture Series is a sub-series of the Sheffield Phoenix Bible and Society series. As such, the focus of each volume is on the ways in which Biblical apocalyptic texts, themes and dramatis personae are drawn upon, transformed and consumed within aspects of popular culture. Five volumes are currently under development dealing with film, television, cyberculture, music and literary/graphic texts. The series is being produced in association with the Hope Centre for Millennialism Studies at Liverpool Hope University under the general editorship of the centre’s director Dr John Walliss.