Call for papers: Doctor Who and Science

11 June 2019

In 1963 Doctor Who began with the purported intention of using drama to teach science. Since then it has inspired many people to pursue scientific careers and the science presented in it has lived on in new contexts from stage shows to the classroom. The program is now the world’s longest running science fiction series. The recent re-casting of the title role with a female actor has served to reinvigorate its global popularity and interest, in part because some commentators see the Doctor as a scientist role model.

At different times Doctor Who’s production personnel have been from science backgrounds (1960s writer Kit Pedler), been avid readers of New Scientist (1970s producer Barry Letts) or wanting to make ‘hard science’ the substance of drama (1980s script editor Christopher H. Bidmead). Others have been more cavalier, and science can be either surface dressing or essential to the plot. The extent to which the central character has reinforced her or his role and credentials as a scientist has varied across decades. Scientific dialogue can be scrupulously researched or careless nonsense. The science fiction in the show can be derivative from the genre (traction beams, teleporters) or novel.

This collection is to pull together the latest research into a volume that examines the dramatic use and possibly abuse of science in Doctor Who and how it characterises, celebrates or terrifies with science.

Advice for contributors

This edited collection is under contract with McFarland.

This call for papers is for abstracts of up to 250 words explaining the focus and approach the contributor/s’ chapter will take.

Contributions can consider any of the show’s different incarnations (1963-1989, 1996, 2005-), its spin-off television series and other Doctor Who media such as novels and audio plays. Contributions addressing how Doctor Who has been used to promote public engagement with science, including through exhibitions in science museums and popular science works, are also welcome.

Contributors might like to consider the social, political, ideological, cultural and economic aspects of science as a way to approach the series and its content, as well as its depictions of scientist characters and scientific knowledge.

The proposed volume is intended to be scholarly but accessible in tone and approach. Each contribution should be 6000-8000 words all inclusive. We cannot accept contributions that require the reproduction of images unless you already hold the rights to reproduce them.

Suggested reading and key documents are available at [doctorwhoandscience.wordpress.com]doctorwhoandscience.wordpress.com

Email abstracts to both marcus.harmes@usq.edu.au and lindy.orthia@anu.edu.au by 30 June 2019.

About the editors

Associate Professor Marcus Harmes is author of Doctor Who and the Art of Adaptation (2013) and Roger Delgado: I am Usually Referred to as the Master (2017) and contributed chapters to Doctor Who and Race, Doctor Who and History and Time and Relative Dimensions in Faith. He is the author of numerous studies on popular culture, science fiction and the history of British television.

Dr Lindy Orthia is a senior lecturer in science communication whose research interests include studies of science in popular fiction. She has published extensively on representations of science in Doctor Who, examining intersections in the program between science and politics, ethics, gender, race and environmental disaster. She is the editor of Doctor Who and Race(2013).