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Serial Imaginary

Imaginaire sériel

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Published on Monday, October 13, 2014 by Céline Guilleux


This conference is the conclusion of two years of seminars on the theme 'Myths and Tv Series' that were held at Stendhal University between 2013 and 2014. It will allow us to broaden our reflection so as to question the notion of serial imaginary, without necessarily restricting our corpus to a single artistic domain. As a result, you are invited to analyze serial literature (such as serialized fiction, children literature or science-fiction cycles), television series, music serialism, comic books, movies, paintings, photography…



As a follow up to the seminars held at the University of Grenoble 3 from October 2013 to December 2014, and whose purpose was to reflect on the connection between television series and myths, this conference will broaden this reflection so as to question the impact of seriality on our imaginary.

Despite the many ideological or methodological debates held in the field of imaginary studies, the idea that the imaginary functions according to the mechanisms of repetition seems to win unanimous support. Mircea Eliade, for instance, sees in the reproduction of archetypes the reason for all human actions, while Claude Lévi-Strauss emphasizes the importance of the recursion of mythemes and Gilbert Durand defends the notion of perfecting redundancy. By creating the concept of serial imaginary, we thus offer to focus on the close link between, on the one hand, the ability to condition and organize exchanges between an experience and its representation, and, on the other hand, a procedure based on the rhythmical repetition of one, or several, paradigms in an isolable, determined and coherent body, which allows their reproduction and inflexion.

The seriality of our imaginary suggests that it forms an incomplete whole in perpetual evolution. But in what ways do the mechanisms of seriality determine the unfolding of the imaginary? Is there interdependence between the modes of production of the imaginary and artistic practices? Research conducted by Patricia Falguières on the philosophical impact of reproductivity even tends to encourage academics to question the historicity of the phenomenon: are there periods of time or artistic movements that are particularly sensitive to the mechanisms of seriality? What would be the reasons of such a predisposition?

In this perspective, serial works of art form a privileged field of studies since they turn recursion and redundancy into structuring principles. Every single artistic discipline is thus capable of enlightening the questions asked here. As a result, you are invited to analyze serial literature (such as serialized fiction, children literature or science-fiction cycles), television series, music serialism, comic books, movies, paintings, photography… Since the term ‘seriality’ is not perceived the same way in all of the above-mentioned disciplines, the dissonances and contradictions that will inevitably appear will help us better understand how the imaginary, or imaginaries, unfold(s). Our reflection will nonetheless focus on these five areas of research:

Time and Space in serial imaginary.

In order to determine which imaginary(ies) the serial structure of the corpus set(s) in motion, the reflection might be concerned with its treatment of temporality and spatiality. In effect, seriality, as opposed to uniqueness and punctuality, favors the progressive emergence of complex significations, with each occurrence bringing a new potential configuration to a body in perpetual movement. The serial reading pact would thus grant seriality an exegetical dimension giving the observer (reader, spectator…) the opportunity to associate and/or reinterpret those complex significations in a new way.

Fragmentary aesthetic and serial imaginary.

It would also be advisable to study the fragmentary aesthetic specific to serial works of art. Indeed the poetics of discontinuity and rhapsody actively contribute to the constitution of a moving signification. The gutters in a comic book, for example, allow the reader to anticipate, and even fantasize, the return of the narration. The interstice consequently emerges as the ideal space of expression of the imaginary since the suspension of the story puts the human mind at the very heart of the creative process.

Serial imaginary and ideology.

The regular recurrences of a fictitious universe, and its inclusion in the agenda of a community, contribute to the creation of an extremely powerful illusion of realism. Special attention could thus be paid to the mimetic force and to the ambiguity of the modes of representation of the serial imaginary. The television series Twin Peaks, for instance, drags its audience along by playing with the signs of the initiation story, but then captures both its hero and its viewers in a counter-initiation, questioning our relationship with reality and its media-staged representation. In what ways, then, could serial imaginary become a space of ideological domination? 

Serial imaginary and economics.

The cultural industry could be seen, according to Adorno and Horkheimer’s critical positioning, as a mass production since “the technology of the cultural industry resulted in standardization […], sacrificing what made the difference between the logic of a work and the logic of the social system” [2]. Following this reasoning, particular attention could be paid on the works of Walter Benjamin on “the work of art at the time of its technical reproducibility”, when mass production turns art into a commodity and cultural leisure.

The materiality of serial imaginary.

It would be equally advisable to study the physical materials and the media that convey serial works of art. Although these creations are well and truly dependent on the technical resources they mobilize, it does not mean that the way in which serial imaginary seize those resources and how it influences their apparition should be neglected. Is there, as a result, a relationship between a particular medium and its impact on our imaginary? Can we consider that a serial woodblock print like Katsushika Hokusai’s Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji have the same impact on the mind of the spectator as a serialized fiction or a film series?

These areas of research are merely suggestions and every proposal will be considered.

Guidelines submission

Proposals (300 to 400 words) in French or in English, with a short biblio-biography, are to be sent to the following address

for February 5th 2015.

The colloquium will take place the 28th and 29th May 2015.

Scientific committee

  • Isabelle Krzywkowski : Professeur des universités, Université Stendhal, Grenoble 3, directrice du CRI, littératures comparées.
  • Catherine Delmas : Professeur des universités, Université Stendhal, Grenoble 3, directrice du CEMRA et de l’ED Grenoble, littérature anglaise, littérature du Commonwealth.
  • Philippe Walter : professeur émérite de littérature française du Moyen Âge, Université Stendhal, Grenoble 3, mythologie.
  • Hélène Machinal : Professeur des universités, Université de Bretagne Occidentale, Etudes anglophones
  • Charles Delattre : Maître de conférences, Université Paris-Ouest Nanterre, langues et littératures anciennes, mythologie.
  • Donna Andreolle : Professeur des universités, Université du Havre, cinéma et séries télévisées.
  • Anne Besson : Maître de conférences, Université d'Artois, littératures sérielles.
  • Carlos Carreto : Professeur des universités, Universidade Aberta, Lisbonne, littératures populaires.
  • Patricia Cardoso : Professeur des universités, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Brésil, coordinatrice du Master bilatéral entre l’Universidade Federal do Paraná et l'Université de Lyon 2 Lumière, littérature et cinéma. 
  • Daniella Musso, Docteur CRI
  • Ilona Woronow, Docteur CRI
  • Jonathan Fruoco, Docteur (soutenance en octobre 2014) CEMRA.   


  • Université Stendhal, domaine universitaire - 1180, avenue centrale
    Saint-Martin-d'Hères, France (38)


  • Thursday, February 05, 2015


  • mythe, série, feuilleton, imaginaire, représentation


  • Jonathan Fruoco
    courriel : jonathan [dot] fruoco [at] gmail [dot] com

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Jonathan Fruoco
    courriel : jonathan [dot] fruoco [at] gmail [dot] com

To cite this announcement

« Serial Imaginary », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Monday, October 13, 2014,

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