CFP: Apocalyptic Nostalgia? Cold War Imagery in Popular Culture

Call for Papers: Apocalyptic Nostalgia? Cold War Imagery in Popular Culture
Imperial War Museum North, Manchester, UK
13th July 2023
Abstract Deadline: 28th February 2023

Since the end of the Cold War, its imagery, atmosphere, and music have been repeatedly appropriated and reappropriated within contemporary popular culture. More than thirty years after the Berlin Wall fell, these images continue to appeal to generations with no memory of the original tensions of the time. From the early Cold War imagery of games such as the Fallout series, or the mid-1980s backdrop of Soviet infiltration in Stranger Things, visual culture, music, and ideas from the period are constantly recycled in popular culture. These images are often linked to fears of nuclear destruction or disturbing post-apocalyptic settings, while also recalling nostalgic and often patriotic images of a lost world of the West. With the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine and heightened fear of nuclear war, these images are being appropriated and applied in new ways online and in popular entertainment.

This conference invites participants to examine this theme and to explore the complexities of encountering Cold War imagery within popular film, television, video and tabletop games, music, graphic novels and social media content. In particular, it aims to examine the way in which this imagery impacts understandings of the apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic within popular culture. Potential topics might include, but are not limited to:

  • The role of nostalgia and nuclear destruction on screen.
  • The influence of popular culture on historical memory.
  • “Alternative histories” of the Cold War in popular culture.
  • Live action roleplay.
  • “Apocalyptic fandom”.
  • Use of Cold War-era music in film, television and gaming.
  • The role of Cold War narratives and imagery in Marvel/DC franchises media.
  • The use of apocalypticism in historical and popular documentaries.
  • Cold War imagery on social media related to the Ukraine War.
  • Cold War kitsch and ironic nostalgia.
  • Player agency in apocalyptic video games.

The conference will take place on Thursday 13th July 2023 at Imperial War Museum North, Manchester, UK. There is no charge for registration/attendance for those presenting papers.

For submissions, email 250-word abstracts with a short biography to Dr. Andrew Crome by Tuesday 28th February 2023.



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