ASAP/J cfps

Cluster Call for Papers: Reality TV in the social media economy

Something has changed about the way we watch reality TV. For example, Selling Sunset, a show about selling luxury homes in the Hollywood Hills area, is the new platonic ideal of reality TV. It presents the glamorous, unattainable Hollywood lifestyle but is grounded by the viewers’ social media engagement with the subjects online. These viewing practices facilitate a novel method of watching reality TV. Engagement is now self-reflexive: drama on many of the shows has its roots in Instagram, TikTok, or Reddit feuds about the show, rather than actual conflicts that unfold on-camera. Other series, such as Vanderpump Rules, Indian Matchmaking, and Too Hot to Handle similarly thrive in this social media economy. Reality TV isn’t new, but it feels new.

We’ve observed renewed popular appeal of reality TV as hinging on formal and narratorial novelty. Viewers are invested to the point of parasociality, granting them the power to influence storylines and the creation of future shows or spin-offs. Reality TV is now part of the viewer’s own reality. This cluster will challenge disciplinary boundaries between literary, media, and cinematic scholarship to create dialogue about the changing burdens on and affordances of reality TV in the social media economy.

This cluster invites essays that analyze reality TV shows and their capacity to engage with audiences on online platforms. Possible series for analysis (besides those aforementioned) include RuPaul’s Drag Race, Tiger King, The Ultimatum, The Real Housewives, The Kardashians, Big Brother, Survivor, and Love is Blind. We are happy to accept proposals on any reality TV series, across languages and geographical space, with a bias towards recency.

Email Cassandra Luca and Avneet Sharma (McGill University) at to submit an abstract of no more than 300 words and a short biographical statement (no more than 75 words), by Friday, October 6, 2023. Potential contributors will be notified by Friday, October 20 and they will then have to submit their essays (1500–3000 words) by Friday, December 15.

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.