Joker and Philosophy: Call for Abstracts

Joker and Philosophy

Call for Abstracts

Edited by Massimiliano L. Cappuccio, George A. Dunn, and Jason T. Eberl

The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series

Please circulate and post widely. Apologies for cross-posting.

To propose ideas for future volumes in the Blackwell series please contact the Series Editor, William Irwin, at williamirwin@kings.edu

Joker is arguably Batman’s most iconic antagonist and one of the most fascinating villains in the DC comics universe. His most noteworthy recent depiction was in Todd Phillips’ 2019 movie Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix, who will be reprising that role in an upcoming sequel tentatively titled Joker: Folie à Deux. Joker has also made memorable appearances in Alan Moore’s 1988 graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke, the 1992-1995 television show Batman: The Animated Series (voiced by Mark Hamill), Christopher Nolan’s 2008 movie The Dark Knight (played by Heath Ledger), and the DC Extended Universe’s 2016 movie Suicide Squad and 2021 movie Zack Snyder’s Justice League (played by Jared Leto).

We invite submissions focused on any of these depictions, but by no means limited to them—even chapters on the campy depictions by Cesar Romero and Jack Nicholson are welcome—as well as chapters on the character in general. Contributors of accepted essays will receive an honorarium. Abstracts and subsequent essays should be philosophically substantial but accessible, written to engage the intelligent lay reader.

Possible themes and topics might include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • “For my whole life, I didn’t even know if I really existed”: Appearance, Reality, and Arthur Fleck’s Epistemic Plight
  • “I pass you every day and you don’t notice me!”: Arthur Fleck’s Frustrated Desire for Recognition at the End of History (with Fukuyama and Kojève)
  • “What do you get when you cross a mentally ill loner with a society that abandons him and treats him like trash?”: Ressentiment and Arthur Fleck’s Sense of Victimhood
  • “No one’s laughing now!”: Comedy, Cruelty, and the Joys of Schadenfreude in Joker
  • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Class War: The Marxist Joker
  • Movies, Imitation, and Violence: Could Joker Create an Actual Joker?
  • Intertextuality and Meaning: Joker, Taxi Driver, and King of Comedy
  • Joker and Manliness: “Toxic Masculinity,” Emasculation, and Flamboyance
  • Are Joker and Batman Mimetic Doubles/Rival Brothers? René Girard and Joker
  • “When the chips are down, these civilized people … they’ll eat each other”: The Dark Knight’s Joker and Hobbes’ State of Nature
  • “Some men just want to watch the world burn”: Can We Desire Evil for Evil’s Sake?
  • “Do I look like a man with a plan?”: Joker and the Daoist Wu Wei
  • “You know the thing about chaos? It’s fair!”: Justice, Fairness, and Randomness
  • “Nobody panics when things go according to plan, even if the plan is horrifying!”: The Banality of Evil in Gotham
  • Joker and Theories of Laughter: Superiority (Hobbes, Descartes), Relief (Locke, Spencer), and Incongruence (Aristotle, Cicero, Kant)
  • Erasmian Folly in Praise of Joker: The Philosophical Uses of Mockery
  • Why Does Joker Fascinate? Transgression and the Aesthetics of Evil
  • “Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous”: Simone Weil and Joker
  • What Makes Joker Evil? Privation Theory versus Schelling’s Irrational Ground
  • Radical Evil, Diabolical Evil, and the “Crooked Timber” of Human Nature: A Kantian Analysis of Joker
  • Joker—Devilish Monster or Natural Man: Are Human Beings are Innately Bad?
  • The Existentialist Joker: Living in an Absurd World Without Rules
  • “One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star”: Nietzsche and Joker on Creativity and Chaos
  • “One Bad Day”: Is Joker Responsible for His Actions?
  • Joker and the Jungian “Shadow”
  • The Political Philosophy of Joker: Is Joker an Anarchist?
  • The Vigilante Joker: Is Violence Justified as a Response to Societal Wrongs?
  • Friends, Lovers, and Frenemies: Joker, Harley Quinn, and the Philosophy of Love and Friendship
  • “Man would rather will nothing than not will at all”: Joker’s Nihilism as a Reaction Against Nietzsche’s Last Man
  • Cults of Personality: Why Do People Idolize and Follow Charismatic Madmen?
  • Is Society Built on Lies and Delusions? Jesters, Jokers, and Truth-Telling
  • Violence and Morality: How is Joker’s Violence Different from Batman’s and/or the Gotham Power Elite’s?
  • Does Society Create Madness? Joker and Michel Foucault’s Madness and Civilization
  • Joker’s Insanity and Eric Fromm’s The Sane Society: Alienation under Capitalism, Freudian Psychoanalysis, and Joker’s Oedipal Complex
  • Penny Fleck and the Feminine Care Ethic
  • Joker and Women: Does Joker Offer a Critique of Violent Misogyny?
  • Joker and Game Theory: The Boat Dilemma in The Dark Knight
  • The Aristotelian Joker: Comedy and Tragedy, Pity and Fear
  • The Higher Pleasures of the Criminal Mastermind: Is Joker a Hedonist? 
  • Delighting in Cruelty: Joker and Marquis de Sade

Submission Guidelines:

1. Submission deadline for abstracts (350-500 words) and CVs: November 15

2. Submission deadline for drafts of accepted papers: June 15

Kindly submit by e-mail (with or without Word attachment) to FritFerret@aol.com

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