Vol. 2 Summer 2018

Ways of Organizing:

Documentary Resources, Documentary Habitats, Documentary Programming

Edited by Jason Fox and Laliv Melamed

Informed by the work of Canadian media theorist Harold Innis, this volume frames documentary as a staple resource, one that organizes new social and material worlds by developing particular sensibilities and desires for its content. While Innis’s research began with the geographic and political economies of staple resources that shaped Modern Canada such as timber and cod, he later re-conceived these staples as media that organized the landscapes around them. Through Innis’s frame, we want to suggest a fundamentally logistical approach to documentary, one that invites contributors to think of documentary as an organizational tool in order to place documentary’s subjects and settings, its images and viewers, and its texts and the spaces in which they circulate on the same plane. How does documentary organize social, political and institutional worlds?

We invite contributors to consider the expanded field of documentary — from social media, to film festivals, galleries, activism, funding structures, and more. We also invite contributors to pay close attention to both the practical process involved in creating and circulating media forms and to the demands and expectations that may be generated as a result of new content.

Foreground and Background

As Innis’s approach reveals, the relationship between foregrounded staples and the backgrounds in which they circulate is seldom stable and can easily be reversed. Such a proposition invites us to place in dialectical relationship formal and rhetorical conventions and the social and material conditions that constitute documentary worlds. We are interested in the routes and means of circulation and the images that circulate, in exploring the centers and peripheries of documentary worlds, and in documentary film and the discourses, infrastructure and the logistics that enable them. Considerations on this theme might take the form of:
  • Explorations of technologies and conditions that alternately allow and prevent a variety of documentary forms to circulate.
  • Explorations of staples of documentary form, including the interview, codes of immediacy, participatory media, and social practice art engagements.
  • How do the effects of documentary media forms constitute the social grounds in which they circulate?
  • The expansion of systems and environments in which documentary circulates through social media, art galleries, new technologies, funding infrastructures, and so on.


A significant amount of critical writing over the past decade has explored the reinvigoration of documentary practice through its convergence with the traditions of contemporary art and performance. But we can also invert this claim in order to ask:
  • How have various documentary forms stayed within their lanes?
  • What are the ongoing roles that scholars and critics, academic and popular publishers, exhibitors and funders play in gatekeeping documentary forms?
  • Under what conditions have documentary film festivals, and the emergence of a prestige documentary circuit, flourished?
  • Under what terms and conditions do we find a continued relationship between documentary and activist media, propaganda, and legal representation?


Deadline for electronic submission of 3,500 – 5,000 word essays formatted in Chicago Style, short abstract, brief bio, and bibliography is September 22, 2017. Please prep submissions for anonymous review.

Deadline for electronic submissions of 500 word abstract, brief bio, and sample bibliography is September 8, 2017 with notification by October 8, 2017.

*Please note that the Volume II CFP has closed.

Please send inquiries and submissions via the form below or email Jason Fox, Editor, World Records: jasonthomasfox [at] gmail.com

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