CfP: Special Edition -That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore: A Critical exploration of The Joker

The Joker (Phillips, 2019) has immediately become both a celebrated and derided film and media text: opening up a sea of reviews, interpretations, and critical responses. The mainstream media has poured over it, fans and anti-fans have communed around it, and academics have taken up polar positions on its messages, ideologies, and aesthetics. The film has broken opening weekend box office records while its lead star, Joaquin Phoenix, has been both chastised during interviews and openly hostile to the type of effects-driven question he has been set. 

The Joker arrives at a time of arguably unprecedented social malaise: it speaks to the culture of loneliness, toxic masculinity, the crisis in whiteness, the break down in social networks, the expanding gap between rich and poor, and to the anger and rage that has entered discourse more broadly. It does this in ways which provokes and angers some and moves others.

In this proposed Special Edition, we seek to explore the sightlines and subtexts, the affective shapes, corrosive ideologies and damning messages of this film.  Papers can address the following indicative topics but should also navigate their own course:

  • Nostalgia

  • Loneliness

  • Whiteness

  • Perversion

  • Violence and effects

  • Environmental textures

  • Social class

  • Dysfunction

  • Bad mothers

  • Reproduction

  • Power elites

  • Family

  • Space and place

  • Waste and decay

  • Mental health

  • Genre

  • Tragedy and comedy

  • Memory

  • Doppelganger

  • Nihilism

  • Race and ethnicity

  • Masculinity – failed, toxic, critical

  • Hauntology

  • The city

  • Surveillance

  • Networks

  • Allusion and quotation

  • Performance

  • Movement

  • Sound design

  • Set design

  • Affect

  • Costume

  • Celebrity

  • Transmedia

  • Fandom

  • Histories of The Joker

Abstracts of 250 words to Sean Redmond by November 1st 2019:  s.redmond(at)

CFP, NewsStefanie Alisch