Call for Papers: Religion and Doctor Who: Time, Space, and Faith

Call for Papers: Religion and Doctor Who: Time, Space, and Faith January 18, 2012

Doctor Who is a cultural phenomenon in both the UK and the United States, continuing to go from strength-to-strength as it approaches its 50th anniversary in 2013. Over the show’s long history on television—and in various spin-off TV shows, audio adventures, novels and comic books—religion and religious themes have consistently been a subject of interest. In recent years the show has attracted everything from Church of England conferences dedicated to its use in preaching to guest appearances by Richard Dawkins. Abstracts of 300 words are therefore invited for a proposed edited collection examining Religion and Doctor Who. The collection will consider the subject in its widest sense, examining portrayals of religion on the show, in spin-off media (including TV, audio, internet, comic books and video games); fan cultures, and the use of Doctor Who in religious debates. The book will be aimed at popular-academic readership. Possible subjects include, but are not limited to:

• Religious or mythic themes (salvation, return, ritual etc.) in the series.

• Critiques and deconstructions of religion in Doctor Who.

• The use of Doctor Who to chart British religious history from 1963 to the present.

• Death and the afterlife in Doctor Who and Torchwood.

• The Doctor as a Christ figure.

• Portrayals of non-Christian religion in the classic series or BBC revival.

• Fan response to “religious” episodes.

• The use of Doctor Who by religious organisations.

• Religion in audio adventures, comic books and video games.

• Canonicity and Doctor Who as a surrogate religion.

• Doctor Who as a tool for theological reflection.

• Using Doctor Who to teach Religious Studies.

Abstracts should be 300 words in length, and include a short biography of the author. Abstracts should be sent to Deadline for receipt of abstracts: 20th April 2012.


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  • Hi James, How exciting! I have a few ideaa swimming around in my mind already. What would be the length of the article if accepted for the collection?

  • Jeremiah

    Can I safely assume that the bio is not part of the 300 word limit?

  • Thanks for your comments! Yes, the bio need not fit within the word limit for the abstract! We have not set a limit of words yet, but even if we do, I suspect that there will be some flexibility – there usually is even when a very precise word limit is specified from the outset.  🙂

  • Rob Shearman

    Apologies for sounding horribly practical here, but can I just ask whether there’ll be a payment for an article? 

  • Cyberfan

    Question: how widly will the works be pubished? What are the paper’s ambitions? Will we hear a response from the Church/organised religions? What is the work’s ambition?…I’m VERY interested as this very idea has been cooking in my mind for ages. Sorry about so many questions but I am writing as we speak…  

  • Marc Atkinson

    This sounds like a great book in the making :o) I’ve been writing a piece of fiction myself for the last 5 years. It’s called ETERNAL and basically its a story about The Doctor taking and everyday guy called Martin back in time to meet Jesus etc… as well as Mount Sania at the time of Moses etc… I think the Doctor and spirituality are a brilliant combination and I’m looking forward to reading this book on the subject :o)

  • Thank you for all these expressions of interest in the project.

    @d1ab329d1b605dbf06b514fc4cf634dc:disqus , details such as royalties are always negotiated with a publisher on a case-by-case basis, but in general academic books do not see enough copies for it to be possible to pay royalties to the contributors. So I would assume not, and that this is a professional publication opportunity of the sort academics depend on and nothing more. More than that it is too early to say.

    @fe840b3ba678683eb67dabe67349e34c:disqus , we certainly hope to find a major publisher that will ensure that the book is available through bookstores both traditional and virtual. I would love to see it be available as an ebook as well as in print, but different publishers are at different stages in adapting to current publishing technology.

  • atravelersnote

    hello! this sounds awesome. in terms of methodology, can the hermeuneutic be through the lens of continental philosophy? thanks again

    • Hi George! The wider the array of approaches and perspectives, the better, I’d say! So one reflecting continental philosophy would be welcome!

  • Cyberfan

    Here’s a Dr Who obsessive question…Is the book going to discuss whether Dr Who fans continue their love of Dr who in the afterlife IF there’s an afterlife…I mean, is the book going to grill professionals with such Who-orientated, obsessive questions? I hope so lol! These are the questions us whovians are slightly bothered about but certainly don’t bring up with a cleric (wary of how some might percieve our sanity lol). Also, nobody forget you can actually be buried in a tardis themed coffin-fact!!!

  • A Whovian

    This may be overly optimistic of me, but how do you feel about writers submitting multiple abstracts? (i.e. “So many great potential topics, how will I ever choose?”)

    • Sorry for the delay in replying. I don’t have any problem with multiple abstracts, as long as the person submitting them is not under the illusion that they might then get to contribute multiple chapters – alas, we would have to pick at most one!  🙂

  • Cyberfan

    Ok, tbh my last question was a bit silly…I think the book’s a fantastic idea though and wish it the best.

  • Rowena Wilding

    Is this limited to America, or can we submit abstracts from Britain?

    • There are no geographic limitations on where contributors can be in the world. 🙂 But given that Doctor Who is a British show, I would be very surprised if there were few British contributors to the volume!

  • I’ve met a number of Christians who enjoy Dr. Who but I sometimes wonder what they think of the fact that Dr. Who’s adventures have the ability to captivate and attract even bibilcal scholars like Dr. McGrath, with a similar or greater intensity than biblical tales?  

    Humanity appears to be generating tales that continue to evolve, including mixing and matching religious and philosophical themes, invoking a conscious control over the mutation of new mythical elements — sort of like the way humanity is also learning how to mix and match elements of DNA, experimenting with them.  Are we to become the masters of our own future DNA evolution as well as of the stories that captivate us most?  Is that what humanity is about?  And what part is left to religion in the end? Especially the religions of the unchanging unevolving books? Won’t they be left behind? And I haven’t even mentioned quantum computers, artificial intelligence and upgrades to the human mind. Dr. Who features imaginative captivating tales, and interesting life lessons about friendship and courage in the face of death. You don’t even realize you’re learning about life, love and humanity as you watch such shows, or that you’re being challenged by new ideas about time, space, philosophy and ethics.   But this raises the question about shows that stretch and enrich our minds, our philosophies, that teach us ethical lessons, including lessons in courage and love–Dr. Who is but one of a variety of such books and films–does a person need one book in particular, the Bible, or, the Koran, to understand life, to help them prize knowledge, wisdom, courage, friendship, to help them live life in the face of the uncertain, the unknown, even in the face of death, to love others, to think philosophically and imaginatively? It doesn’t seem so. And a related question is, How essential is it to believe in a “Messiah”  (literally, “anointed one”). or believe in calling someone a “Lord” (as opposed to simply calling them by name), or believe in “Kingships” (as opposed to democracies), or believe in a hundred other things in Old Testament biblical lore, or ancient Near Eastern lore upon which it is based, or NT lore, etc.?  Furthermore, the NT is over a thousand years older than the OT was when the earliest NT book was composed, and still no new written revelations from God? 

  • Perrin

    Hello! Is there a way to keep up with when this will be published? I just mentioned on Facebook the other day that I’d really like to compare Dr. Who and religious/spiritual topics, and a friend pointed me here, so now I’m excited. 🙂

    • Thank yoy for your interest and enthusiasm! I can guarantee that I will post every major development on this blog as the process moves forward, and since I blog often about religion and Doctor Who, might I be so bold as to suggest that you subscribe to the blog’s feed in your RSS reader? 🙂