Journal of Theory and Criticism
Issue number 29, 2022
CALL FOR PAPERS
Podcasting Culture: Re-inventing Audio Storytelling
In a world saturated with images, in which audiovisual storytelling has dominated for decades and where binge-watching TV series on digital platforms and homemade videos on social media have become the trend of the last few years, it is quite unexpected to witness the reemergence of a storytelling mode that rests on sound and voice alone and resists visual representation. Audio storytelling is not new; stories voiced for the ear to listen have been with us for as long as there have been stories to share. What has changed in recent years, whetting our story-listening appetite anew, are the computing technologies ever rapidly developed for audio production, distribution and reception. Such technological advances – like the 2007 smartphone revolution – have brought o(au)ral stories back home, re-discovered, enhanced and crafted afresh in what has often been described as an “audio media revolution” (Spinelli and Dann, 2019).
In this sonic renaissance, podcasts have certainly taken the lead; these are stories of impressively wide content told in sound and voice, breaking free from visual/traditional media storytelling and back to the intimacy of voice-based narration and the logics of auditory perception. Low-cost and often low-tech, they resist the all familiar top-down media content and design approach, while, in line with the mobile/private/interactive listening technologies that support and enable them, they’ve introduced a more “lean-forward” story-listening mode – less linear and rather tailor-made, with greater agency and more interactive points. In the last few years, digital audio tales, such as Welcome to Night Vale, Alice isn’t Dead, Homecoming, the all-successful Serial of 2014 or the journalistic Radiolab among many others, nourish and feed on the imagination of ever-wider binge-listening audiences, drawing on and reinventing the way stories are told. A spin-off from the working logic of audio dramas, “the podcast [medium]” – James Atlas writes in The New York Times in 2015 – “once a form of talk show for the iPhone age, is evolving into a new literary form — one so new that it’s soon going to require a name of its own”.
It is with the intricacies of this new un/non/neo-literary form that this issue is concerned and, more particularly, with its storytelling logic and potential, from narrative journalism podcasts and true crime series to fictional audio stories and scripted podcasts. Embracing the cultural relevance of the podcast industry and recognizing podcast narratives as an emerging and underexplored field of studies, we invite proposals related to the peculiarities of this narrative form. Papers are open – but not limited – to the following topics:
Proposals up to 300 words and a short bio should be sent to the editors of the issue, Maria Ristani and Sotirios Bampatzimopoulos, at the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Deadline for submissions: 14 February 2022