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Call for Chapters: Shut up and take my money! The Culture of Collecting

Categories: Digital Humanities, Interdisciplinary, Pedagogy, Genre & Form, Popular Culture, Gender & Sexuality, Rhetoric & Composition, Adventure & Travel Writing, Children's Literature, Comics & Graphic Novels, Drama, Narratology, Poetry, Aesthetics, Anthropology/Sociology, Classical Studies, Cultural Studies, Environmental Studies, Film, TV, & Media, Food Studies, History, Philosophy, Miscellaneous
Event Date: 2024-07-01 Abstract Due: 2024-07-01

Shut up and take my money!* The Culture of Collecting

Edited Collection

Proposed Book Editor: Janelle Vermaak-Griessel

Nelson Mandela University, South Africa



Collecting objects related to one’s fandom is a fannish activity and is meant to elicit feelings of joy and accomplishment. Geraghty (2018:215) explains that “the physical objects that make up a collection are semiotic signifiers of self, and how fans use, display and exchange them is determined by processes similar to those defined by subcultural distinction and the accumulation of fan cultural capital”. In other words, one’s collection can be considered as one exemplar of who you are as a fan, and the manner in which you display these items can begin to demonstrate your commitment to your fandom. This commitment includes, but is not limited to, the amount of money you spend on your items, the time you take to look for them, and the space these items take up in your home or wherever your collection is displayed.

Geraghty (2014:180) also writes that collecting merchandise can be a way for “the fan to reconnect with their own past through the interaction with memories and nostalgia embodied in the very objects they collect.” Your collection can form part of your identity, and can link you closely with memories from your past in a tangible manner. For example, adult collectors of vintage toys who remember having a specific toy as a child or making the effort to locate a copy of this toy through online shopping.


Belk (1995:68) writes that collecting is not only an individual pursuit but is also usually a competitive activity: “The collector may seek out others as kindred spirits sharing a common passion, to learn from them, or to compare their collections to his or her own”. He also writes that “the passionate involvement of collectors makes it difficult to remain detached when we share an interest in a collectible object with other collectors”. This statement cannot be truer in the age of social media, where it is easy to share collections through platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and YouTube. However, these platforms could also encourage collectors to develop the need to have the latest item through the fear of missing out (FOMO). This fear is exacerbated by users showing off their collections that may be unattainable for most. Belk (1995:68) states that “success in competition with others brings the collector heightened status (within his or her collecting sphere) and feelings of pride and accomplishment…Collecting takes place within a much narrower sphere than general consuming, and this may make status competition more manageable and enhance chances of success. However, rather than reducing competitive fervour, this narrowing is likely to enhance it.”


But sometimes collections or collecting can tend towards the darker side. It can become overwhelming and cause anxiety because the collector can no longer control their urges to purchase items. Susan Pearce (1995:32) speaks of the compulsion to collect, and that there are three primary modes of collecting – souvenir, fetishistic and systematic. With regard to fetishistic collectors, “the objects are dominant and the collector responds to his obsessive need by gathering as many items as possible”. In the consumer culture that we find ourselves, this obsessive need has become more and more prevalent. Belk (1995:68) states that “collecting is distinct from ordinary consumption, investment, hoarding, possessive accumulating, and acquisitive buying”, and Geraghty (2014:181) writes that “the collection does not make the person—they make the collection”.


Call for Chapters

The purpose of this edited collection is to explore the many aspects of collecting, and topics can expand to collections of various forms. Collecting needs to be examined from the positive elements to the negative elements, and everything in between. For example, why do we collect? How does one’s collection affect their self-identity? Do we collect out of nostalgia or compulsion? Social media and marketing have an effect on collectors, which can affect demand for certain items, competition between collectors, fear of missing out, and anxiety due to not being able to purchase an item because of financial constraints or that the item has sold out. Anxiety and overwhelm can also be triggered when one’s collection becomes unmanageable, and items start spreading throughout your living space. Collection burnout has also become more prevalent as items are constantly updated or different versions or reboots of these items are released.


However, collecting can also help us escape into a fantasy world, or help us cope with specific issues, as well as allowing us to create stories around our collections, anthropomorphising collection items, giving specific names to items based on our relationships with them, and speaking to our collections, such as greeting the items each day or apologising to an item if it is handled incorrectly. The possibilities of discussions around collecting are vast and this book hopes to tap into that vastness.


Potential topics might include but are not limited to:


-        Collecting and identity

-        Collecting and nostalgia

-        Collecting and compulsion

-        Collecting and self-indulgence

-        Social media, marketing and collecting

-        Collecting and FOMO

-        Collecting and envy

-        Collecting and demand

-        Collecting and competition

-        Collecting and anxiety

-        Collection burnout

-        Collecting communities and groups

-        Collecting practices

-        Collecting to hoarding

-        Gender and collecting

-        Collecting motivations and experiences

-        Collecting as coping

-        Collecting and escapism

-        Completionist collector practices

-        Selective collector practices

-        Collectors as storytellers

-        Anthropomorphising collection items

-        Naming collection items

-        Speaking to collection items

-        Managing collecting obsessions

-        Reducing collection anxiety

-        Collecting and capitalism

-        Collecting and consumer culture

-        Collecting and exploitative practices

-        Souvenir, fetishistic and systematic collectors

-        Collecting and addiction

-        Collecting and financial responsibilities

-        Collecting and priorities


Abstracts due: 01 July 2024

Abstracts need to be no more than 300 words in length and must include three key references. Please include a 50-word biography (including affiliation if applicable).

Send abstracts and expressions of interest to: cultureofcollecting@gmail.com


Proposed timeline

Abstracts due:                                                                                            01 July 2024

Acceptance notification:                                                                             01 August 2024

Completed first drafts due:                                                                         01 November 2024

Reviewer comments returned:                                                                   01 January 2025

Revised papers due:                                                                                  15 February 2025



Belk, R.W. (1995) Collecting in a Consumer society. London: Routledge.

Cohen, D.X. & Groening, M. (1999 to present) Futurama. Hulu.

Geraghty, L. (2014). Cult Collectors: Nostalgia, Fandom and Collecting Popular Culture. London: Routledge.

Geraghty, L. (2018) Class, Capital, and Collecting in Media Fandom. In Click, M. A. & Scott, S. (eds) The Routledge Companion to Media Fandom. Routledge, London

Pearce, S. M. (1995) On Collecting: An Investigation into Collecting in the European Tradition, London: Routledge.


*Shut up and take my money! is based on dialogue in a scene from a 2010 episode of the show Futurama (1999 to present). One of the main characters, Fry, is adamantly attempting to purchase an ‘eyePhone’ while the salesperson explains all the aspects that are wrong with the phone.


Janelle Vermaak-Griessel