Another Nice and Accurate Call for Papers #CFP #GoodOmens

Another Nice and Accurate Call for Papers #CFP #GoodOmens August 16, 2019

Another call for papers about Good Omens came to my attention:

Editors: Erin M. Giannini and Amanda Taylor

Written as a collaboration between Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, Good Omens(1990) had an active and long-term fanbase before the debut of the Amazon Prime miniseries. Its adaptation, brought to fruition by Gaiman as a promise to Pratchett before Pratchett’s 2015 death, however, has not only brought new fans into the fold, but increased the visibility of the original text.

This collection seeks to examine the book and the series, separately and together, in the numerous contexts in which both exist (text, television, fandom, etc.) This collection is under contract with McFarland & Company and will be peer-reviewed.

Potential topics include but are not limited to:

  • Examining the adaptation from book to series. What’s inferred from the text but not explicit (eg, the use of Queen), what is highlighted, what is excluded.

  • Performance studies; eg, influence of previous roles or Michael Sheen’s (Aziraphale) contention that fanfic informed his interactions with Crowley (David Tennant); casting choices

  • Platform: Do streaming platforms offer greater opportunities? Would it have been released on broadcast or cable?

  • ”Ineffable Husbands”: Queer readings of Crowley/Aziraphale

  • Gender presentation: eg, Pollution, God, Crowley as Nanny, etc.

  • Names/naming: how and why names matter (book or series) (eg, Dog, Adam, Crawley to Crowley, Sister Loquacious)

  • The theology of Good Omens: interpretation, satirization, prophets/prophecy, angels/demons

  • Reception, including the ill-fated petition to Netflix

  • Collaboration (Gaiman/Pratchett; Crowley/Aziraphale, BBC/Amazon)

  • Portrayals of Britishness: Crowley/Aziraphale, the Them, etc as “quintessential” or stereotypical; Easter eggs (eg, Who references, Python-esque opening titles

  • The power of imagination as seen in the book/series

  • Power dynamics in the book/series: e.g. heaven vs. hell, adults vs. kids, humans vs. supernatural beings, etc.

  • Fandom: differences/intersections/contentions between book and series fans

  • Implications of shifting the time in the book from the early 90s to contemporary times

  • Series as tribute to Pratchett (per interviews with Gaiman)

  • Rise in apocalyptic texts: How does Good Omens speak to our current times/fascination with/need for apocalyptic texts? What does it offer?

  • Literary influences on Good Omens

  • Cinematic/filmic influences on the small-screen adaptation

250-500 word abstracts/proposals with current CV due: September 30, 2019

Completed final manuscript due: July 30, 2020

Send inquiries or proposals to:

Completed manuscripts should be between 6,000 and 8,000 words (not including Works Cited or notes) and should conform to MLA 8 style and formatting. Please use endnotes instead of footnotes as applicable.

You can watch Good Omens (if you haven’t already, or want to watch it again) through Amazon.

And on another Good TV show, Mike Schur recently spoke about his own understanding of goodness has changed as a result of his work on The Good Place, and the show’s message has changed along with him:

That was my internal shift over the course of making the show: The newfound belief that the important thing wasn’t actually—and it’s counterintuitive to say this—being good. The important thing was that you’re trying.

It feels like a huge part of the problem, from my point of view, is that not enough people are just trying. And trying means failing. Everybody fails, all the time. Even people with the best of intentions will fail. It doesn’t matter whether you follow this theory or that theory, or this belief or whatever. You’re going to fail a lot. We all fail all the time at this.

I regret that I did not manage to share this call for papers about the Good Place before the deadline. I’m sure that punishment awaits me in the afterlife because of this…

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  • John MacDonald

    Thanks so much for sharing this, James! I’m going to submit an abstract under

    The theology of Good Omens: interpretation, satirization, prophets/prophecy, angels/demons

    I don’t have a CV except for my MA thesis, but maybe that won’t be a problem

    • John MacDonald

      I just sent off this abstract everyone. I have my fingers crossed. Wish me luck!


      This article examines the theology of Good Omens from the point of view of the theological/existential/cultural problem of boredom, especially as developed by Ecclesiastes and Nietzsche.

      Starting around 18:38 of episode 6, in a key scene, Beelzebub says to Adam Young:

      ‘When it’s over, you’re going to get to rule the world. Don’t you want to rule the world?

      To which Adam Young replied:

      “It’s hard enough to think of things for Pepper, Wesley, and Brian to do all the time so they don’t get bored. I’ve got all the world I want.”

      This touches on an important point of why society must be structured in part to distract people from themselves.

      The series ends on the theme of Adam Young and boredom too. Adam is being punished, stuck in the Garden (his parent’s back yard), bored with nothing to do. So, he wants his Hell Hound to run away, so he would have justification to escape the Garden and chase him down, which the Hell Hound does, so Adam escapes the boredom of the Garden. It’s an interesting thematic play on the concept of the first Adam in the garden of Eden! It raises the question of how long Adam and Eve would have been satisfied in the Garden had Eve never been tempted.

      The boredom of Adam Young at the end of episode 6 in the Garden illustrates some important theological/existential points. One is the ultimate tedium of life, which Ecclesiastes talks about (nothing new under the sun). The other is how the luster of life falls off of beings, and we experience things like a warn out recording of a favorite song, such as Nietzsche talks about with his analysis of Eternal Recurrence.

      The final scene with Adam the Antichrist sees him disobeying his (human) mother and leaving the garden where he has been grounded, eating an apple after he does so. Adam didn’t really disobey, but rather found a way to do what he wanted (leave the boring garden where there was nothing to do) in a way that his parents would have approved of (to find the dog), putting responsibility on the dog, much like blaming the snake for Adam and Eve disobeying.

      So, Adam Young found a way to get away with breaking the rules. But does this mean he did something wrong? Perhaps not, because Adam Young in the boring garden episode illustrates a theological point beyond Good and Evil about boredom and the nature of human conduct:

      “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop; idle lips are his mouthpiece. (Proverbs 16:27 – very loosely translated).”

      St. Jerome wrote in the late 4th century: fac et aliquid operis, ut semper te diabolus inveniat occupatum, or “engage in some occupation, so that the devil may always find you busy.” This proverb was later repeated by Chaucer in the Canterbury Tales, which was probably the source of its popularity. It has appeared in many forms, especially in English literature, throughout the ages.

      • Good luck!

        • John MacDonald

          Thanks for recommending the series. I really enjoyed it. I think the series does a great job of showing how the categories of Good and Evil can actually be quite fluid!

      • John MacDonald

        Kierkegaard is on point here too for my interpretation of Good Omens regarding the relationship between Evil and Boredom. Kierkegaard writes::

        Boredom is the root of evil; it is that which must be held off … Since boredom advances and boredom is the root of all evil, no wonder, then, that the world goes backwards, that evil spreads. This can be traced back to the very beginning of the world. The gods were bored; therefore they created human beings. Adam was bored because he was alone; therefore Eve was created. Since that moment, boredom entered the world and grew in quantity in exact proportion to the growth of population. Adam was bored alone; then Adam and Eve were bored en famille. After that, the population of the world increased and the nations were bored en masse. To amuse themselves, they hit upon the notion of building a tower so high that it would reach the sky. This notion is just as boring as the tower was high and is a terrible demonstration of how boredom had gained the upper hand. Then they were dispersed around the world, just as people now travel abroad, but they continued to be bored. And what consequences this boredom had: humankind stood tall and fell far, first through Eve, then from the Babylonian tower.

        — Kierkegaard, From Either/Or (1843).

        • John MacDonald


          Sorry for all the posts. I’m just excited about Good Omens!

          It is interesting that Good Omens brings up the fundamental existential issue of the relationship between boredom and bad behavior specifically in relation to the Antichrist child Adam Young and his friends, because Kierkegaard highlights the same issue, again in Either/Or. Kierkegaard writes:

          How corrupting boredom is, everyone recognizes also with regard to children. As long as children are having a good time, they are always good. This can be said in the strictest sense, for if they at times become unmanageable even while playing, it is really because they are beginning to be bored; boredom is already coming on ….

          Children are kind of an extreme case of the subtle boredom that underlies all of human existence, which can be coaxed to the surface in a child’s fidgety time out, or, to use Nietzsche’s example, the jittery irritation brought to the surface in cabin fever.

          • John MacDonald

            This is actually a good case study of what the early Postmoderns like Kierkegaard and Nietzsche were up to. Whereas the Enlightenment thinkers were concerned with coming up with a formula to categorize behaviors as either Good or Bad/Evil, the Postmoderns were asking what forces/ideologies/narratives were underlying the assignment of actions to these categories. So, for instance, instead of asking whether particular acts were necessarily bad/evil, Kierkegaard asked what could be causing such unmanageable behavior (such as a bored child being unmanageable for a parent, or a person unmanageable for society, or a person unmanageable for God). The bored child who is acting out is not at the most rudimentary level Bad/Evil, they are fidgety. Nietzsche did a similar causal analysis with his case for Slave Morality.

          • John MacDonald

            ONE LAST THOUGHT

            And, this Postmodern approach is very important, because if we simply identify someone as Bad/Evil because of their deeds/thoughts/words, then this naturally supports a retributive approach. But, if we ask the Postmodern question of what personal/societal forces and structures are responsible for recalcitrant behaviors/thoughts/words, we have a Postmodern approach that goes beyond mere retribution (although that is still an issue), and asks how we may reform the individual, or society.