Call for Chapter Proposals: Critical Media Literacy and Fake News in Post-Truth America

Critical Media Literacy and Fake News in Post-Truth America

Co-editors P.L. Thomas and Christian Z. Goering

Critical Media Literacies and Youth series, Sense Publishers

Series Editor, William Reynolds


In the fall of 2016, just after the U.S. elected Donald Trump president, a black female first-year student submitted an essay on the prospects for Trump’s presidency. The course is a first-year writing seminar focusing on James Baldwin in the context of #BlackLivesMatter; therefore, throughout the course, students have been asked to critically investigate race, racism, gender, sexism, and all types of bias related to the U.S.—through the writing of Baldwin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Roxane Gay, Teju Cole, and Arundhati Roy, among others.

The student’s discussion of Trump’s policies, however, were hyperlinked to Trump’s campaign website. Discussing the draft with the student revealed that the current post-truth America is a significant issue among youth who seem unable to distinguish between facts and so-called fake news.

To blame youth for this lack of critical media literacy seems misguided since the mainstream media itself plays a significant role in misinforming the public. For example, as a subset of the wider media, edujournalism represents a default lack of critical perspective among journalists.

Claims by mainstream media are impressive:

Education Week is the best independent, unbiased source for news and information on pre-K-12 education. With an average of 42 stories posted each weekday on, there is always a news, multimedia, or opinion piece to keep you up-to-date on post-election changes in policy, and to help you become a better practitioner and subject matter expert.

The reality is much different. When journalists at Education Week were challenged about their lack of critical coverage of NCTQ, Juana Summers Tweeted, “I’m not sure it’s my place to say whether the study is credible.”

In other words, mainstream media are dedicated to press-release journalism and maintaining a “both sides” stance that avoids making informed decisions about any claims from their sources—including the campaign of Trump.

This volume, then, seeks contributions that address, but are not limited to, the following in the context of teaching and reaching youth in the U.S. about critical media literacy:

  • Unpacking the lack of critical perspectives in mainstream media.
  • Examining “post-truth” America.
  • Confronting issues of race, racism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia, and xenophobia as related to the media.
  • Exploring the promises of the New Media as a haven for truth.

Contributions should seek ways to couch chapters in practical aspects of teaching and reaching youth in the U.S., but can reach beyond the traditional classroom into youth culture as that intersects with critical media literacy.

Send a tentative title, author information, and 100-word abstract of the proposed chapter as a Word file (use your name to label the file, please). Make sure your abstract clearly shows how the proposed chapter addresses the focus of the volume—critical media literacy, fake news, and post-truth U.S. as related to youth.

Contact: paul.thomas[at]

Timeline, etc., TBD

Critical Media Literacies and Youth series, Sense Publishers

Series Editor, William Reynolds


New from Sense: Fantasy Literature: Challenging Genres

New from Sense

Fantasy Literature: Challenging Genres

Free Preview Fantasy Literature Fantasy Literature

Fantasy literature, often derided as superficial and escapist, is one of the most popular and enduring genres of fiction worldwide. It is also—perhaps surprisingly—thought-provoking, structurally complex, and relevant to contemporary society, as the essays in this volume attest. The scholars, teachers, and authors represented here offer their perspectives on this engaging genre.

CALL: Haruki Murakami: Challenging Authors

Series: Critical Literacy Teaching Series: Challenging Authors and Genres

Sense Publishers

Volume: Haruki Murakami: Challenging Authors

Editors, Matthew Carl Strecher and P. L. Thomas


Proposals due: June 30, 2015 [EXTENDED]

Email to 100-word chapter proposal, 50-word author(s) bio(s), contact information, and 8 key words by above due date.

Accepted chapter notified: June 30, 2015

Accepted chapters due: October 31, 2015 

Final draft submission: December 15, 2015


Japanese writer Haruki Murakami has achieved a rare status among writers—incredible popularity in his native country and world-wide as well as rising critical acclaim. Murakami, in fact, in addition to receiving most of the major literary awards in Japan, as well as many around the world, has been nominated several times for the Nobel Prize, and is likely to be Japan’s next Nobel laureate in literature.  At the same time, his relationship with the Japanese literary community proper (known as the Bundan) has not been a particularly friendly one.

Writing about Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, Matthew Carl Strecher (2014) notes that one of Murakami’s central and enduring themes is a persistent warning not to suppress our fundamental desires in favor of the demands of society at large. And while Murakami’s writing over his career reveals some recurring motifs, his message has also evolved, creating a catalogue of works that reveal Murakami to be a challenging author.

Many of those challenges lie in Murakami’s blurring of genre as well as his rich blending of Japanese and Western mythologies and styles—all while continuing to offer narratives that attract and captivate a wide range of readers.  A highly challenging author, Murakami is, as Ōe Kenzaburō once contended, not a “Japanese writer” so much as a global one, and as such, he merits a central place in the classroom in order to confront readers and students, but also to be challenged as well.

This volume seeks to offer 15-20 chapters examining Murakami against the problems of genre and form, within cultural and national ideologies and mythologies, and spurred by the tensions that arise from being both popular and critically acclaimed.

Analyzing and considering teaching Murakami through the lenses of critical pedagogy and literacy offers another layer of complexity to the Murakami phenomenon and expands the scope of this series significantly, notably in the context of Freire (2005):

One of the violences perpetuated by illiteracy is the suffocation of the consciousness and the expressiveness of men and women who are forbidden from reading and writing, thus limiting their capacity to write about their reading of the world so they can rethink about their original reading of it. (p. 2)

Reading, teaching, and studying Murakami serves well the goal of rethinking this world.  It will open new lines of inquiry into what constitutes national literatures, and how some authors, in the era of blurred national and cultural boundaries, seek now to transcend those boundaries and pursue a truly global mode of expression.


Freire, P. (2005). Teachers as cultural workers: Letters to those who dare to teach. (D. Macedo, D. Koike, & A. Oliveira, Trans.). Boulder, CO: Westview.

Strecher, M.C. (2014). The forbidden worlds of Haruki Murakami. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Working Table of Contents

Name/contact title
P.L. Thomas Introduction
Matthew Carl Strecher The Chronicles of Murakami Haruki and the Chamber of Secrets
P.L. Thomas Magical Murakami Nightmares: Investigating Genre through The Strange Library
Yuji Kato The Memories of Our Old “Murakami Haruki” and the Teaching Experience of “Haruki Murakami” in Classrooms in Tokyo Today
Tomoki Wakatsuki The Haruki phenomenon and everyday cosmopolitanism: belonging as a ‘citizen of the world’
Chikako Nihei Leaving Behind the Label of ‘Un-Japanese Author’: Reading ‘Mirror’ in Japanese Class
Rebecca Suter Between Self and Other: Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World As Cultural Engagement Through Fantasy
Deirdre Flynn The Trancreation of Tokyo: The Universality of Murakami’s Urban Landscape
Jonathan Dil What’s wrong with these people?: The Anatomy of Dependence in Norwegian Wood
Daisuke Kiriyama Exchanging “Far-From-Avant-garde” Jazz Records: Haruki Murakami’s “Nausea 1979” as Historiographic Metafiction
Matthew Carl Strecher Conclusion

AVAILABLE TO ORDER: The Politics of Panem: Challenging Genres (Sense)

Series: Critical Literacy Teaching Series: Challenging Authors and Genres

Volume Title: The Politics of Panem: Challenging Genres

Editor: Sean P. Connors, University of Arkansas

HG cover

By any measure, Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series is a commercial success. In 2012, the bookselling behemoth Amazon reported that the trilogy outsold the Harry Potter series, no small accomplishment considering that the latter has the distinct advantage of consisting of seven novels. A filmic adaptation of the eponymous first novel in the Hunger Games trilogy premiered in the same year, and a sequel, Catching Fire, is scheduled for release later this fall. Still, in spite of its crossover appeal with audiences of all ages, and its subsequent blurring of the distinction between “adolescent” and “adult” literature, the novels that comprise Collins’ trilogy have received surprisingly little critical attention, a result, perhaps, of their status as young adult literature, a genre that is stigmatized in academic settings. Read from the perspective of critical theory, it is possible to appreciate Collins’ series as a multilayered narrative that lends itself to close reading, and which challenges readers to examine complex themes and social issues.

What does reading the Hunger Games series from a Marxist perspective reveal about the material basis of culture? Read from a feminist perspective, how does the trilogy illuminate power relations between men and women? In what ways does the trilogy instantiate, or subvert, dystopian genre conventions, and to what effect? To what extent might adapting the series for film complicate its ability to participate in sharp-edged social criticism? Most importantly, what does a decision to read Collins’ novels from the standpoint of theory reveal about the potential complexity and sophistication of young adult literature? By asking questions of this sort, this edited collection challenges the lingering perception that literature for adolescents is plot driven, superficial fare by making visible the complex readings that are available when readers examine works such as those that comprise the Hunger Games trilogy from the perspective of critical theory. In doing so, it reveals Collins’ series to be a complex narrative that, in the words of Aristotle, instructs at the same time that it delights.

This volume is currently in press with Sense Publishers.

Table of Contents 


Introduction: Challenging the Politics of Text Complexity, Sean P. Connors

Part One: “It’s All How You’re Perceived”: Deconstructing Adolescence in Panem

1 — “Some Walks You Have to Take Alone”: Ideology, Intertextuality, and the Fall of the Empire in The Hunger Games Trilogy, Roberta Seelinger Trites

2 — Worse Games To Play?: Deconstructing Resolution in The Hunger Games, Susan S. M. Tan

3 — Hungering for Middle Ground: Binaries of Self in Young Adult Dystopia, Meghann Meeusen

Part Two: “I Have A Kind of Power I Never Knew I Possessed”: What Philosophy Tells Us about Life in Panem

4 — The Three Faces of Evil: A Philosophic Reading of The Hunger Games, Brian McDonald

5 — “I Was Watching You, Mockingjay”: Surveillance, Tactics, and the Limits of Panopticism, Sean P. Connors

6 — Exploiting the Gaps in the Fence: Power, Agency, and Rebellion in The Hunger Games, Michael Macaluso and Cori McKenzie

Part Three: “Look at the State They Left Us In”: The Hunger Games as Social Criticism

7 — “It’s Great to Have Allies As Long As You Can Ignore the Thought That You’ll Have to Kill Them”: A Cultural Critical Response to Blurred Ethics in the Hunger Games Trilogy, Anna O. Soter

8 — “I Try to Remember Who I Am and Who I Am Not”: The Subjugation of Nature and Women in The Hunger Games, Sean P. Connors

9 — “We End Our Hunger for Justice!”: Social Responsibility in the Hunger Games Trilogy, Rodrigo Joseph Rodríguez

Part Four: “That’s a Wrap”: Films, Fandom, and the Politics of Social Media

10 — “She Has No Idea. The Effect She Can Have”: A Rhetorical Reading of The Hunger Games, Hilary Brewster

11 — Are the –Isms Ever in Your Favor?: Children’s Film Theory and The Hunger Games, Iris Shepard and Ian Wojcik-Andrews

12 — The Revolution Starts With Rue: Online Fandom and the Racial Politics of the Hunger Games, Antero Garcia and Marcelle Haddix

Afterward: Why Are Strong Female Characters Not Enough?: Katniss and Lisbeth Salander, from Novel to Film, P. L. Thomas

Author Biographies

How to Order

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