Exchanges, in association with Dr Filippo Cervelli (SOAS) and Dr Benjamin Schaper (University of Oxford), is delighted to announce the latest opportunity to contribute to a special issue of Exchanges, combined with a workshop event.

The full text of the call is available online.


We are looking for contributions which explore fictional representations of nerds and loneliness across various media and cultures. Traditionally associated with a particular niche culture, nerds entered the mainstream through popular formats such as the highly successful TV show The Big Bang Theory (2007-2019) in the early 21st Century. Besides, the pervasiveness of the popular image of nerds has crossed linguistic borders and depictions of nerds are frequent beyond the Anglo-American context, as attested by the term nerd being widely used in languages such as Italian or German.

The issue will hence analyse varying cultural representations of the nerd’s relationship with society in order to critically discuss how various art forms approach the notion of the ‘lonely nerd‘. We want to ask questions such as: Can we still find common characteristics in representations that are not overtly about nerds? Is loneliness inextricable from any representation of nerds, or do we see narratives where nerds actually become, quite anti- canonically, the centre of their community, as small as it may be? And if so, what do these representations tell us about their culture? Are they representational? If this is the case, how can it be used to interrogate relevant phenomena of isolation and loneliness in general?

Possible topics include, but are not limited to: fictional explorations of nerds and loneliness in relation to gender, ethnicity, (mental) health, genius, social status and space, as well as their questioning of traditional cultural representations and genres.

Abstract Submission & Deadline

At this stage we are seeking abstracts of up to 300 words, rather than full papers. Abstracts should be submitted to no later than 6th April 2020, to be considered for inclusion.

All abstracts (and subsequent articles) should be written in English. Published articles will need to meet the standard article requirements of Exchanges for peer reviewed texts. As always we especially welcome contributions from post-graduate and early career researchers, addressed to an interdisciplinary audience.

Additionally, applicants whose submissions are accepted, will be invited to contribute to a preparatory workshop to be hosted at SOAS (London, UK) in early 2021. It is anticipated full manuscripts will be submitted to Exchanges following this event, with publication of the special issue scheduled for later in 2021.

Further Information

For more information or to discuss this opportunity further please contact

For information about publishing with Exchanges, or to discuss future special issues etc., please contact the Editor-in-Chief, Dr Gareth J Johnson, or consult our author guidance.