DOCTOR WHO Area
2008 Film & History Conference
"Film & Science: Fictions, Documentaries, and Beyond"
October 30-November 2, 2008
Third-Round Deadline: August 1, 2008
AREA: Doctor Who
Doctor Who first entered the public consciousness on November 23, 1963, as a new science fiction serial on the BBC. Listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the Longest Running Science Fiction Television Show, the serial is a national institution in its home country – the subject of countless pop-culture references – and a popular export to American public television stations. As a televised serial, Doctor Who has exhibited features dared by few others, from its controversial content, to its public ranking in the 1970s as the most violent programming produced by the BBC, to the serial’s constant re-casting of the leading man, the adventurous Doctor, whose alien biology conveniently allows for regeneration.
These controversies and innovations, along with the evolution of a complex “Whoniverse” of audio stories, novels, and entries in various other media (the “canonicity” of most of which is still in question), not only have turned the enigmatic Doctor Who into a cult figure but have interwoven time and history through grand adventures that address issues of human existence and the meaning of civilization. The newest edition of the series, which continues the storyline/timeline from the original, often features the Doctor interacting with historical figures (and making wry commentary on current events in the process) and explores more deeply the dilemma of the Doctor as a lonely traveler who will generally outlive any human companion who joins him or who falls in love with him.
The Doctor is clearly a man of science, yet his function on the show is often God-like, with occasional explicit references to him as a Christ-figure. How does the Doctor’s dual role comment on the role of science in society? In its peregrinations through human events, what does the show say about the construction of history? What does it say about national/British identity in the new millennium or about the uneasy relationship between Western empiricism and theological mysticism?
Papers and panels are invited on the topic of the Doctor Who series. Possible topics include but are not limited to the following:
Cultural commentary and trans-historical morality tales
Issues of and intertextuality and metafiction
Historical figures and the depiction of historical events (and the Doctor’s role in them)
The role of technological innovation and special effects
Gender and sexuality
Canonicity of other media
Use of guest stars/actors
Religious imagery and allegory
The role of visual technology (including film and television) in the show’s content
Please submit all proposals by August 1, 2008, to the area chair:
Professor Christopher Hansen
Department of Communication Studies
One Bear Place #97368
Waco, TX 76798
Submissions by email are encouraged.
Panel proposals for up to four presenters are also welcome, but each presenter must submit his or her own paper proposal. Deadline for first-round proposals: November 1, 2007; third-round deadline: August 1, 2008.
This area, comprising multiple panels, is a part of the 2008 biennial Film & History Conference, sponsored by The Center for the Study of Film and History. Speakers will include founder John O’Connor and editor Peter C. Rollins (in a ceremony to celebrate the transfer to the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh); Wheeler Winston Dixon, author of Visions of the Apocalypse, Disaster and Memory, and Lost in the Fifties: Recovering Phantom Hollywood; Sidney Perkowitz, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Physics at Emory University and author of Hollywood Science: Movies, Science, & the End of the World; and special-effects legend Stan Winston, our Keynote Speaker. For updates and registration information about the upcoming meeting, see the Film & History website (www.uwosh.edu/filmandhistory).