Call for Papers: Theology, Religion, and the Office

Call For Papers:

Title: Theology and The Office

Volume Editors: Daniel J. Cameron & John W. McCormack

Abstract and CV Due: January 31, 2023

Initial Final Paper Due: June 30, 2023

In 2020, seven years after the show officially ended, the hit NBC series The Office was the number 1 streamed tv show with over 57 billion viewing minutes beating out the second most streamed show (Grey’s Anatomy) by 45%.[1] In 2016, Rolling Stone Magazine listed The Office within the top 50 most popular tv shows of all time.[2] The show has had a lasting and deep influence on the trajectory of popular culture. It is because of The Office, that shows like Brooklyne Nine-Nine, Parks and Recreation, and The Good Place exist.[3] The show is beloved by many for its witty humor, relatable characters, and simple  storyline. But, can The Office be reduced down to another comedy that seeks cheap laughter from its one liners such as “that’s what she said,” its jello pranks, or its absurd characters (i.e. Dwight Shrute) or is there something more, something deeper that we can learn from the things that happen at this fictional Pennsylvania paper company?

This book will argue along with Pam Beasley that “there is a lot of beauty in ordinary things.”[4] Or more specifically there is a lot of theology in ordinary things. This book will be an addition to the Theology, Religion, and Pop Culture series (Lexington Books, Fortress Academic) and while it imagines a broad range of readers, it will be of particular interest to those with an interest in comedy and tv sitcoms, as well as academics interested in intersections of religion and culture.  This volume seeks to gather a diverse group of scholars across the field of theology, religion, and related fields in order to produce a book that will provide both a theological lens through which to view The Office as well as to be a space for current cutting edge theological research to take place.

Potential Topics:

– Vocation/calling

– Friendship/fellowship/romance

– Difficult people, imperfect people

– Ethics in The Office

– Religion, “Religion,” and Religions in the Office

– Holidays/ritual observances/liturgical practice (Halloween episodes, Christmas episodes, pretzel day, Diwali, the Christening, weddings, birthday parties)

– Emotions in The Office (Andy’s anger management, Kelly’s manipulations, Gabe’s anxiety, Dwight’s refusal to smile, Toby’s face, etc.)

 – Gender, Sexuality, Family, and Relationships (Michael Scott’s masculinity; Oscar, Angela, and the Senator; Ryan and Kelly; “You have to tolerate a lot when you’re part of a family.”)

– Bosses and Authority (Michael, Jan, David Wallace, Robert California, etc.) 

– Acceptance and Belonging (Michael: “I like to be liked. I enjoy being liked. I have to be liked, but it’s not like this compulsive need to be liked, like my need to be praised;” “Everybody likes the guy who offers them a stick of gum.” Dwight: “Do you want to form an alliance with me?”)

– Racial and ethnic identities in The Office (Diversity Day, The Convict,  Warehouse employees, IT guy, Hidetoshi Hasagawa, Sabre’s “Print in All Colors” initiative,  etc.)

– Transgression, Sin, and Punishment (Fake firings, Pizza by Alfredo, Michael’s nephew, the Scranton Strangler, etc.)

– Technology (Michael’s GPS; Dunder Mifflin Infinity (2.0); “Unleash the power of the pyramid”; WUPHF)

– Aesthetics, decor, identity (desk toys  and all that)

– Creativity (Here Comes Treble, Improv, Art School, Local Ad, Second Life, the Flenderson Files, etc.)

– Popular Culture in the Office (Parkour, Bobbleheads, Sweeney Todd)

– Time (“It’s a quarter to 5, and I have begun to gather my things.” “I’ve been salesman of the month thirteen out of the last twelve months.”)

– Space and place (The Break Room, the Conference Room, the Warehouse)

– Life inside and outside The Office (Call Center, Schrute Farms, truth and reality, etc.)

– The relationship between the Scranton branch and “Corporate” (and other branches, Sabre/Tallahassee, etc.)

– Cinematography and The Office (Talking Heads and the Idea of Hope, mockumentary style storytelling, etc)

Timeframes:

Please send a 500-word abstract, accompanied by a current CV, to TheologyAndTheOffice@gmail.com by January 31, 2023. Acceptance notifications will be sent out February 15, 2023. Full manuscripts (6,000-8,000 words)  are due on June 30, 2023. Manuscripts will be returned to contributors on August 1, 2023. Final revised manuscripts will be due by October 15, 2023. The completed volume will be submitted to the publisher December 1, 2023 for anticipated publication in 2024.

Daniel J. Cameron holds an MA from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and is a Ph.D. candidate  in systematic theology from the University of Aberdeen and serves as the Bible Department head and Spiritual Life Director at Chicago Hope Academy (IL, USA) where he teaches a course in theology and film.

John W. McCormack holds an MAR from Yale Divinity School and a PhD in History from the University of Notre Dame and is Associate Professor of Religion and History at Aurora University (IL, USA). 


Notes

[1] Rick Porter. “’Ozark,’ ‘the Office’ Lead Nielsen’s 2020 Streaming Rankings.” The Hollywood Reporter. The Hollywood Reporter, January 13, 2021.

[2] Rob Sheffield. “100 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.” Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone, July 29, 2019.

[3] Kelly Lawler, “’The Office’ Turns 15: All the Ways NBC’s Quirky Sitcom Changed Pop Culture,” USA Today (Gannett Satellite Information Network, March 24, 2020).

[4] The Office. 2013. Season 9, Episode 25, “Finale.” Directed by Ken Kwapis. Aired May 13, 2013 on NBC.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Eric says:

    Hello.
    I’m happy to be here

    Like

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