CFP – Bestseller and Blockbuster Culture: Books, Cinema and Television

Call for papers
Bestseller and Blockbuster Culture – Books, Cinema and Television
21-22 March 2013, Aalborg, Denmark

Bestsellers are on exclusive display in local supermarkets; in bookshops conspicuous screens and posters promote the weekly bestsellers, and in the digital world, a vast amount of websites, from encyclopaedias to newspapers and weblogs, are ranking their contributions according to their number of readers and/or responses. The bestseller and blockbuster lists and the TV ratings make up a barometer of shifting issues and attitudes of the surrounding society. Simultaneously, some popular genres appear to be constantly present, as is indeed the case for crime fiction and thrillers, but also biographies or biopics as well as historical fiction.

In spite of the influence of postmodernist theory and practice, the bestseller concept is often associated with literature of inferior quality, whereas the minority taste literature with its modest market shares is regarded a priori as ‘high literature’. In cinema, a similar contrast is found between blockbuster movies and art cinema. In television, the concepts of ‘quality television’ and ‘art television’ have developed in contrast to e.g. ‘trash television’. However, the domains of literature, film and TV reveal a multitude of examples of works combining quality and popularity, thus confirming the inadequacy of the common polarization. This is why a close investigation into the mechanisms and functions of the bestseller and blockbuster culture is needed, including its relations to crucial aesthetic concepts such as classics, canon and quality.

We welcome papers within (but not restricted to) the following research areas:

1. Bestseller and Blockbuster in Historical and Conceptualizing Perspectives

  • Concepts of bestseller and/or blockbuster
  • Highbrow, lowbrow, and middlebrow: cultural hierarchies in history
  • Cultures of popular reading through history
  • Bestsellers in history
  • From Hollywood to Bollywood and Hong Kong Movies
  • Corresponding concepts for television serials

2. Present and Future of Bestsellers and Blockbusters

  • The book market today and in the future
  • Trends in bestsellers of the present
  • Cultural hierarchies of today
  • E-books, e-literature and audiobooks
  • Trends in current television serials or movies
  • Telling stories on several platforms in media convergent cultures
  • Bestsellers/blockbusters cross media
  • Multimedial storytelling

3. The Quality Concept

  • Bestsellers/blockbusters as trash and/or quality culture?
  • Genre and style in bestsellers/blockbusters
  • How can “Art Cinema” and “Art Television” be popular television?
  • Bestsellers and standards of quality
  • Production values and reception qualities

4. The production of bestsellers and blockbusters

  • Planning a bestseller and a blockbuster
  • International co-productions
  • Bestseller and blockbuster celebrities
  • The author as celebrity
  • Adaptations: from bestseller to blockbuster or popular TV serials
  • International, transcultural adaptions
  • The tie in effect
  • Spin off and merchandise cultures: marketing, bestseller tourism, computer games and cross media productions

Confirmed keynote speakers/panel participants and titles

Jim Collins, University of Notre Dame: “Fifty Shades of Seriality and Ereader Games”
Margaret Mackey, University of Alberta: “Bestsellers, Blockbusters, and the Ever-Expanding Multiverse of Spin-Offs”
Constantine Verevis, Monash University, Melbourne: “Blockbuster Remakes”
Lothar Mikos, Hochschule von film und Fernsehen, Babelsberg: “Transnational co-productions in film and television”
Ole Søndberg, Yellowbird: “Yellow Bird’s ways of turning bestsellers into blockbusters – international co-operations and co-productions”


  • Submission of abstracts November 1, 2012 (max 300 words by email to Marianne Høgsbro)
  • Acceptance of abstracts November 10, 2012
  • Early bird registration November 15, 2012 (please register online under “Registration”)
  • Standard registration December 15, 2012 (please register online under “Registration”)
  • Submission of paper February 15, 2013 (please submit as attached file by email to Marianne Høgsbro)


The conference is organized by an interdisciplinary, cross institutional committee of Danish researchers, specializing in this area:

Gunhild Agger, D Phil, Professor, Department of Culture and Global Studies, Aalborg University
Anne Marit Waade, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Aesthetics and Communication – Media Science, Aarhus University
Rasmus Grøn, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Communication and Psychology, Aalborg University
Hans Jørn Nielsen, PhD, Associate Professor, The Royal School of Library and Information Science

Conference Website: