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Podcasting Culture: Re-inventing Audio Storytelling

Categories: Digital Humanities
Event Date: 2023-11-15 Abstract Due: 2023-11-15

In a world saturated with images in which audiovisual storytelling has dominated for decades shaping the aesthetics and expectations of the audience, and in which binge-consuming 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 that resists visual representation.  Of course, audio storytelling is not new; Stories voiced for the ear to listen have been with us since early on, 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 developments – like the 2007 smartphone (r)evolution – have brought o(au)ral stories back home, re-discovered, enhanced and crafted afresh in what has often been described as an “audio storytelling renaissance”. In this new audio revolution, 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.

It is with the intricacies of the podcast world that this issue is concerned, yet not as much with its (often discussed) journalistic/investigative side and potential, but, rather with its fictional ventures. We invite you to consider the challenging category of narrative podcasts (pieces of original fictional storytelling written and orchestrated for the ear to follow) which also seems to be blossoming in recent years, especially since the remarkable success of NPR’s true crime podcast Serial in 2014. The podcast – 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”. Embracing the cultural relevance of the podcast industry and recognizing podcast narratives as an emerging and underexplored field of studies, we invite proposals related the peculiarities of this new un/non/neo-literary form. Papers are open -but not limited- to the following topics:

- Experimental podcast narratives
- Reinventing genres in podcast narratives
- Digital technology, innovation and podcast narratives
- Podcast narratives as a cultural phenomenon
- Mimicking visual storytelling in podcast narratives
- Podcast narratives as an expression of the long oral storytelling tradition
- Podcasts and the audio book industry
- Questions of gender/race/ethnicity/inclusivity/queerness in podcast narratives

Proposals up to 300 words and a short bio should be sent to the editors at podcastnarratives@gmail.com by November 15 (extended deadline), 2023. Full papers are expected by January 31, 2024.
Contact Information
Maria Ristani (mristani@enl.auth.gr), Aristotle University, Greece

Sotirios Bampatzimopoulos (sotirios@ankara.edu.tr), Ankara University, Turkey
Contact Email: podcastnarratives@gmail.com



Gramma: Journal of Theory and Criticism