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CFP: House of Cards: Critical Essays on the Netflix Original Series

Deadline for submissions: May 1, 2018
Full name / name of organization: Scott F. Stoddart, Saint Peter’s University
Contact email: scottfstoddart@gmail.com

House of Cards: Critical Essays on the Netflix Original Series

Abstracts: DUE 1 May 2018

Finished Essays DUE: 1 September 2018

House of Cards (HOC) is an American political drama developed and produced by the playwright Beau Willimon (Farragut North), adapted from Michael Dobbs’ novel and the BBC series, written by Andrew Davies.

House of Cards is noted for accelerating the concept of “binge watching” among the television audiences, making available its entire first season of (consisting of thirteen episodes) on Netflix on February 1, 2013, making it the first television series to allow viewers to watch when time permitted. The series has just screened its fifth season, and its ratings and accolades continue to mount: The series has been nominated for 33 Emmy Awards, winning six, and eight Golden Globes, winning two.

House of Cards follows the machinations of Francis J. Underwood (Kevin Spacey) and his assent from Majority House Whip to the presidency of the United States, tracing his vengeance on those he believes wronged him (Season 1) through to his running for re-election (Season 4). Meanwhile, his wife, Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) searches for her own position of power, paralleling Francis’ ruthless quest, as she joins him on the ticket and becomes Vice President (Season 5).

For all of its merited qualities, the series is currently shrouded in controversy. The recent revelations regarding its star, Kevin Spacey, the series, often seen as a barometer of political and popular culture, has taken on a new facet, as Netflix quickly fired the star after allegations of sexual misconduct on- and off-set, life imitating art once more. This is an aspect this book needs to cover critically.

Therefore, I am seeking critical essays on any aspect of the series, including:

  • Comparisons between HOC and other American political dramas, including The West Wing (Sorkin, 1999 – 2006); The Newsroom (Sorkin, 2012 – 2014) and Veep (Iannucci, 2012 – );
  • Comparisons between HOC and Michael Dobbs’ novel and/or the original BBC series of the same name;
  • Frank Underwood’s political vision: How it was shaped by his past — both fictionalized and real – and how this morphs from ambition to monomania;
  • Claire Underwood’s rise from not-for-profit champion to First Lady – from UN ambassador to Vice Presidential candidate;
  • The show’s other political female characters who take a stand against Underwood’s politics, including Jackie Sharp (Molly Parker), Heather Dunbar (Elizabeth Marvell), Catherine Durant (Jayne Atkinson);
  • The series’ secondary male characters who work with Frank, namely Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly), Edward Meechum (Nathan Darrow) and Reny Danton (Mahershala Ali);
  • The series’ technical aspects, including its breaking of the fourth wall;
  • The series’ secondary female characters and their place in the Underwoods’ America, namely Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara) and Rachel Posner (Rachel Brosnahan)
  • The place of race, gender and sexuality in the series, and how these translate to an understanding of the Underwoods’ America;
  • The role of the press and/or media in the series: How do these institutions record the Underwoods’ rise, and how do they fail the populace;
  • The use of real political situations that parallel the fictional political situations used in the series;
  • The series’ commentary on the 2016 “Race for the White House;”
  • The controversy regarding star Kevin Spacey’s coming out after being accused of sexually molesting and harassing men on-set and in his personal life; the further controversy regarding Netflix’s decision to fire him and move on with the series focusing on Clare.

Abstracts for 20 – 25 pages essays regarding the series are due by 1 May 2018; completed essays will be due by 1 September 2018. The book is under contract with McFarland & Co for a December 2018 publication. Inquires, abstracts and completed essays should be sent to: Dr. Scott F. Stoddart, Associate Professor of English and Cinema Studies at scottfstoddart@gmail.com.