ASAP/J cfps

Cluster Call for Papers: Our Mermaid Craze

We are in the midst of a mermaid craze. Everywhere you look—from literature to film, social media to fashion, digital art to commodity kitsch—mermaids are omnipresent. Disney’s new live-action The Little Mermaid arrives in theaters in May, but it is part of a global phenomenon marked by the opening of two museums in the U.S. claiming to be the world’s first mermaid museum (both in 2021, in WA and MD), a slew of mermaid titles in book and film form, mermaid conventions, and more.  A 2021 CNN article titled “Why so many people in China are becoming mermaids” and a simple Google n-gram graphing the dramatic increase in the word “mermaid” in published books (below), with a tipping point around 2010, both mark a cultural movement.

Yet, we lack serious attention to how and why mermaid tales mean so much to us now. This lack is especially troubling when we recognize that today’s mermaids are Black and Brown, sexually fluid, and grounded in indigeneity; they rage against human destruction of the oceans and global capitalism. These narratives span readerships and multimedia formats—from novels and poetry to film and television, massive web-based fan fiction to arthouse films. They explore our culture’s most pressing anxieties and concerns—climate change, racial and social justice, global capitalism, genetic science, AI and algorithmic culture—and they do so across genres and affective registers.

This cluster invites essays that approach our mermaid craze from different perspectives and methodologies, including creative-critical work and big data analytics. We aim to address different mermaid content, media formats, and communities in ways that collectively offer insight into this cultural, literary, and artistic phenomenon.

Contact Professor Jessica Pressman (San Diego State University) jpressman [at] to submit a proposal of no more than 300 words and a short biographical statement, by May 30, 2023. Potential contributors will be notified by June 15 and they will then have to submit their essays (1000-2000 words) by August 1.

We are actively seeking pitches for two new review formats: Provocations and Uncanny Juxtapositions.

Provocations brings together multiple scholars and/or artists to consider a recent scholarly monograph or edited volume by situating it within a field and posing questions for future inquiry. Provocations approach a chosen book with a focus on what comes next: what lines of thought are opened up by the book, and what questions does it leave for future research in the field? A prospective guest editor should pitch a title to the Reviews Editors as well as the names of 3–4 other scholars they have invited to join the conversation. In its final, published form, a Provocation will include an approximately 300-word capsule summary of the book written by the guest editor followed by a similar-length paragraph from each of the invited provokers.

In an Uncanny Juxtaposition, a reviewer puts together two very recent works of art, creative production, or literature—or two scholarly monographs on arts of the present—that would otherwise seem to have no connection, traversing the so-called high/low divide, and transcending medium. The review brings out unexpected intimacies and resonances between them. How does a new pop song re-frame a recent gallery exhibit at MoMA and vice versa? How does a book in media studies and a book in architectural theory—two books with minimal overlap in citation networks—work toward a common thesis or intervention? Uncanny Juxtapositions should be 1,500 to 2,000 words.

Please contact both Reviews Editors Jerrine Tan and Michael Dango at reviews [at] to inquire about either of these formats. There is no deadline to pitch these formats. In your email, indicate the format you are interested in and please include a brief bio (50 words), including prior publications. ASAP/J is committed to boosting the voices of emerging and contingent students and scholars; if you don’t have prior publications, please just tell us why you think you’re the right person for this particular review.