Media and Crisis CFP

Call for Papers:
War of the Worlds to Social Media: Mediated Communication in Times of Crisis
Joy Elizabeth Hayes, The University of Iowa
Kathleen Battles, Oakland University
Wendy Hilton-Morrow, Augustana College
Publisher:  Peter Lang

The year 2013 marks the 75th anniversary of the 1938 War of the Worlds radio broadcast and provides an occasion to reflect on the possibilities and limitations of mediated communication in times of crisis.  The broadcast is remembered for causing a “panic” in over a million listeners who took the broadcast to be a genuine report of a coming invasion.  Since then, War of the Worlds has come to symbolize the power of mass media during times of crisis.

We solicit scholarly essays that take this notorious broadcast as a starting point, or point of reference, in investigating the continuities and discontinuities between old and new media and their use by citizens in times of crisis.  The broadcast event deserves attention in its own right as a milestone in media history, and because it highlights a number of issues that remain important in 21st century communication practices:  the problem of authenticity in mediated communication; the aesthetics of persuasion; the importance of social context; and the dynamic role of listeners, viewers and users in talking back to media producers and institutions.  We seek essays that bring an historical and theoretical perspective to bear on the question of media power and the ability of citizens to hear and be heard during times of crisis.

We are looking for essays that address a number of questions within three broad areas:
1) War of the Worlds and media power in times of crisis
How has the War of the Worlds broadcast served media institutions, regulators, audiences, and scholars as a touchstone for conceptualizing media power and audience agency in the 20th and 21st centuries?
In what ways do recent changes in media, especially the rise of the Internet and social media, invite us to reconsider the lessons of the War of the Worlds event?
How and why does the War of the Worlds broadcast continue to surface in popular discourse about the role of media in times of social crisis?
How have the meanings of the War of the Worlds story and event changed over time, from its original moment, through the Cold War, the decades of the 1980s and 1990s, and in the post-9/11 decade?
2) War of the Worlds, broadcasting conventions, and crisis
*       How was War of the Worlds shaped by – and how did it shape – the emerging broadcast conventions and genres of the 1930s?  Does an examination of crime dramas, horror stories, reality-based reenactments, music broadcasts, or other radio genres shed new light on the meaning of War of the Worlds?
*       In what ways did the broader social crisis of the 1930s influence the form and content of radio genres and broadcast conventions?  To what extent is “crisis” an enduring or structural aspect of broadcast address?
*       Has broadcast coverage of specific moments of political or social crisis (like the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Iranian Hostage Crisis, 9/11, etc.) directly or indirectly drawn on War of the Worlds as a point of reference?
3) War of the Worlds and the promise of social media
*       How are social media transforming the parameters and practices of citizenship, communication and crisis in the 21st century?
*       How do “new media” (web casts, Youtube videos, Twitter feeds, etc.) make use of “old media” conventions, especially in the case of crisis communication?
*       How important is the mimicking or mining of broadcasting genres for communication via social networking and Web 2.0?
*       Have we finally outrun the legacy of the War of the World broadcast, or are we still haunted by its enduring presence in our digital mediascape?

Submission Timeline
Nov. 25, 2011:  Paper abstracts are due to the editors (500 words)
Dec. 16, 2011:  Paper selections announced
March 16, 2012:  Extended abstracts or outlines due to the editors.  Interested participants submit panels to the AEJMC Conference in Chicago April 1 for presentation August 9-12, 2012
July 16, 2012:  Paper draft due
August 17, 2012:  Final papers due to editors

For more information and to submit an abstract, please contact:
Joy Elizabeth Hayes (
Associate Professor, Communication Studies
Co-Director, Latin American Studies Program
147 Becker Bldg., The University of Iowa,
Iowa City, IA 52242 (319) 353-2265

Kathleen Battles
Assistant Professor
Department of Communication and Journalism
Oakland University
2200 N. Squirrel Rd.
Rochester, MI 48309-4401

Author: Center for Intercultural Dialogue

Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz, the Director of the Center for Intercultural Dialogue, manages this website.

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