Saturday, November 7, 2015

CFP History Channel's Vikings Collection (proposals 6/1/2016)

Courtesy Tim Rayborn:

New anthology on the Vikings television show

McFarland Publishers, an independent book publisher devoted to a wide variety of topics, including history, sports, and pop culture, is releasing a collection of essays on the History Channel’s television series "Vikings." I will act as editor, being a medievalist and having an interest in Northern European culture and history. I have written three books for McFarland (two available now and one published early next year), and am a professional performer of early music.

Entering its fourth season in 2016, the show has a large and growing audience of fans, though it also has detractors and critics, mainly for its tendency to take liberties with historical events and details. However, it does make use of period languages, and is known for its cinematography.

In assembling a collection of essays, I am looking for a considerable variety of topics, including history, sociology, pop culture studies, gender studies, etc. Possible subjects might include:

  • Historical vs. onscreen representations of events, people, etc. The show often mixes elements together from different accounts. The point here would not be to overly criticize the series for its departures from history, but rather to examine differences and perhaps investigate why certain changes were made.
  • Representations in the show of everyday life, such as food, drink, farming, and domestic activities.
  • A study of Ragnar’s Saga and related accounts.
  • Sexuality in the show, from both pagan and Christian perspectives.
  • How religion is portrayed in various episodes, including Ragnar’s vision of Odin in the first episode, the events at Uppsala, Floki’s “Heathen fundamentalism,” Christian imagery in France and England, scenes such as the Viking blessing of the crops in Anglo-Saxon England, and Ragnar’s “funeral” at Paris.
  • Related to the previous topic, a study of the character of Æthelstan and Anglo-Saxon monasticism in general (at Lindisfarne and elsewhere) would be welcome.
  • Representations of women in the show. Viking women such as Lagertha, Siggy, Aslaug, Porunn, Helga, as well as Saxon and French women (such as Judith and Princess Gisla) are all worthy of further study, perhaps contrasting these characters with historical information.
  • Sociological studies would be welcome, such as why the show is so popular now (the trailer for Season Four was a hit at San Diego Comic-Con 2015, and has some 850,000 views on YouTube; the show routinely has more than 4 million weekly viewers), and which themes seem to resonate with modern viewers.

The point of this anthology is to view the show for its own merits, understanding that it is a mixture of history, saga literature, fiction, and anachronism, all of which gives it its own unique flavor. Critical essays, rather than merely criticism, are what we seek. Ideally, potential contributors would want to view the upcoming Season Four (premiering in March, 2016) to include aspects of it in their articles, though there are certainly enough topics to begin work now, and to propose subjects of study.

Essays must be in English, fully cited with end notes, and bibliography, all in accordance with the current Chicago Manual of Style. The length of each contribution should be between about 5,000 and 10,000 words, unless there is a good reason that a given essay should be shorter or longer. Please use clear, concise writing.

Peer review will be conducted after the collection is submitted, currently scheduled for September 1, 2016.

Accordingly, the deadline for article submission is June 1, 2016. Submissions before that deadline are, of course, most welcome and helpful.

If contributors wish to include images not in public domain or text excerpts from copyrighted materials requiring written permission to reproduce, they will be expected to obtain such permissions on their own, and pay the required reproduction fees (if needed). McFarland cannot reimburse for this expense. I will need hard copies of each such permission. McFarland also discourages the use of quotations of dialogue from individual episodes, as well as images/screen captures, as these require additional permission/fees from the television network and can delay publication.

Potential contributors should submit a one- to two-page proposal including a potential title, a short description/abstract of the topic(s) for your essay, a brief summary of your background and qualifications, and contact information.

Please email your proposals to me at:

Thank you for your time and interest, and I look forward to receiving and reading your proposals.

Best wishes,

Tim Rayborn

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