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The Heroic, Media and Affect Entanglements in Fictional Forms and Everyday Life


Apart from being many other things, heroes are communicative constructions. They come into being via the ascriptions, descriptions, and especially the evaluations of various kinds of publics. In this sense, the heroic can be described as a specific effect of communicative acts. As such, heroes fulfil various social roles, from the shaping of identity to figurations of a certain set of values. Today, “heroes” are often icons that stand in as figures creating representational space for minorities in a reality in which nothing “really” exists if it is not mediated. But heroes and heroizations also have surplus effects which reach beyond the communicative: because of their cultural capital concerning the identity of selves and groups, antagonistic framings of “good“ and “evil”, or moral values, heroes and heroizations are affecting and create affects. We celebrate “our hero” out of a “gut feeling” rather than (purely) rational reasons, and “celebrating our hero” together – in offline and online groups – seems to be contributing to the creation of communities. In which ways is the high affect potential of heroic figures constructed or exploited in contemporary media forms? In which modalities does it confront us? The workshop will explore these questions with examples from television, social media, fiction, drama, and video games.

Organized by the collaborative work group 7 “Mediality“ and project group D15 “The Heroic in 21st-Century British Television Series: Discourses and Aesthetic Strategies of a Popular Medium“.