Soap Opera and Serialized Storytelling

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Call for papers: 


Popular Culture Association Conference

June 2-5, 2021



Soap Operas, a traditional mainstay of popular culture in the US and internationally, are grounded in the serialized nature of their storytelling.  The popularity of serialization as a form of narrative construction can be observed throughout television wherever it now appears – network, cable, streaming and across all genres.  Serialization drives viewer or user engagement across all media forms – video game franchises, v-logging, sports and sports entertainment, advertising campaigns and now even politics and political journalism have harnessed the power and popularity of the serialized form to build and sustain audiences in our increasingly fractured media landscape.

The Soap Opera and Serialized Storytelling area welcomes submissions that address “traditional” soap operas as well as other serialized narratives that share this unique and important structure – if it encourages you to follow the story or characters into the next episode, we want to hear about it!

Possible areas of investigation include:

  • Work on traditional soaps – those currently on the air in the US (Days of Our Lives, Young and the Restless, Bold and the Beautiful, General Hospital) and legacy soaps that are no longer being produced but made substantial contributions to television history (Guiding Light, As the World Turns, All My Children, One Life to Live, Ryan’s Hope, Dark Shadows, Edge of Night, Search for Tomorrow, Port Charles, Search for Tomorrow, Another World… etc.)
  • How internationalized forms such as the telenovela have grown in popularity and viewership across national boundaries; studies of these shows within their cultural context are also encouraged.
  • Serialized storytelling across platforms – in video game franchises, podcasting (the most famous podcast of the age of podcasting is, after all, called “Serial,” social media storytelling, immersive, VR or AR structures.
  • Serialized narrative as utilized by contemporary storytellers in current network, cable, payTV and web series (Westworld, Game of Thrones, Masters of Sex, Normal People, Stranger Things, Walking Dead, Homeland)
  • Serial narratives in franchises and adaptations – how do they manage character arcs and storylines once they have exhausted the original creator’s source material (Handmaid’s Tale, Orange in the New Black, Avengers, other film franchises adapted from comics);
  • How serality is harnessed in the creation of limited episodic series based on real events and real people (American Crime Story, The Crown, Making a Murderer, Mrs. America.)
  • Fandom and the serialized form – social media and online community building and commentary around serialized narratives and shows.
  • In acknowledgement of the current pandemic as well as the election that will take place prior to the conference, the SO&SS Area is interested in fielding a panel or panel(s) on the effect of the pandemic on the consumption of serialized texts, as well as the use of seriality and the genre characteristics of soap opera in both news coverage of the sitting administration and in the press/communications strategies of this administration on any/all topics. Submissions for these panels could include/address:
  • How has the pandemic and the corresponding uptick in viewing encouraged serialized viewing or binge viewing of serialized storylines?
  • How has the encouragement of parasocial relationships that is a marker of the serialized form emerged as a coping mechanism for a socially distanced community of viewers?  (This could examine the shows themselves as well as social media responses or advertising/publicity aimed to garner viewership.)
  • Consideration of the use of Twitter by the sitting president to create characters/narrative arcs and “stay tuned” behaviors around government activities and policy decisions.
  • Press briefings as performance space of a new form of soap opera/policity and news stunting as a serialized pseudo-event.
  • Co-opting of traditional serialized/soap opera genre markers: the cliff hanger, the stock characters of villain, interloper, hero, by news commentary shows on MSNBC, CNN and FOX to encourage viewership and further meld the journalism of affirmation/reality tv and soap opera into a new televisual infotainment form.
  • Any and all other investigations touching upon these issues which become relevant in the months after the finalization of the CFP.

All perspectives are welcome, including interdisciplinary examinations of seriality as a narrative form and considerations of its impact and usage across multiple forms of discourse from interpersonal to social and mass mediated


2022 Conference Dates and Deadlines

01Aug-21 2022 Conference Information Available on website
01-Sept-21 Submissions Open 
01-Oct-21 Early Bird Registration Begins
15-Nov-21 Deadline for Paper Proposals and Grant Applications
16-Dec-21 Early Bird Registration Ends; Regular Registration Begins
01-Jan-22 Regular Registration Ends
02-Jan-22 Preliminary Schedule Available
01-Feb-22 Registration for Presenters End; Those not registered by the Date Will be Dropped From the Program
01-Apr-22 Online Non-presenter Registration Ends
April 13-16, 2022

PCA Conference in Seattle, WA


All presenters must be current, paid members of the PCA and registered for the conference. Non-presenters who attend the full conference must also pay membership fees.

To attend the National Conference, members must pay the membership fee and the registration fee.   

The last day for all refunds is February 15, 2022. No refund requests will be honored after this date. Membership fees are non-refundable and non-transferable.


Please check back soon for 2022 conference updates.





Area chairs

Nicole Freim