CALL FOR PAPERS: COOLABAH “On gases, clouds, fogs and mists”


“On gases, clouds, fogs and mists”


Online journal of the Australian and Transnational Studies Centre at the University of Barcelona

Special issue edited by Benjamin K. Hodges

Atmospheres are always all around us; but they are also routinely overlooked and ignored. When they become visible, are felt or otherwise noticed they can be experienced as an unusual interruption. Whether a storm cloud or a roadside flare, they mark a change. We also know from Gothic literature and horror films that fogs and mists roll in and change the mood of a scene turning innocent bucolic landscapes into sinister reminders of dangers, real or imagined, that may be lurking in the dark. Unseen invisible gases can impact us too, making spaces unpleasant and even uninhabitable.

In this special edition of Coolabah, authors are invited to propose articles and creative work on the theme of atmospheres. New writing and research on atmospheres has brought about what has been called an “atmospheric turn” (Griffero 2019). What unites this recent research across the sciences, cultural studies and comparative literature is a concern with the particular qualities of atmospheres and how they have historically been interpreted, controlled and experienced across cultures and communities. The significance of atmospheres as a global phenomenon is also increasingly understood as having very real impacts on climate change, with whole communities and multispecies relationships impacted. From pollution to sea level change, the risks of climate change are global but their impact is disproportionately felt by disadvantaged communities from the precarity of island communities to the poor air quality of urban centers, atmospheres foretell looming threats.

Of course, it is not all just doom and gloom. Atmospheres are also full of the particulate that makes neon glow and nightclubs create otherworldly spaces. They create moods and affects, aesthetic experiences to be desired, bought and sold. Atmospheres are the stuff of fairy dust, Sci-Fi special effects and divine halation. They can be seen at a distance causing optical effects like mirages and we can also find ourselves right in the middle of them like humidity stuck to the skin. Architectures define atmospheres. Tourists seek atmospheres.

For all these diverse forms of atmospheres the focus of this collection is to look for ways in which cultural understandings and misunderstandings of atmospheres might offer new ways of thinking about a complicated now and near future. Folklore, popular culture and speculative fiction can provide new ways of understanding the atmospheres around us and what impact we have on them as well as they have on us. 

Topics might include (but not be limited to):

  • cultural histories of dangerous gases (chemical, viral or radioactive)
  • digital representations of gases (e.g. visual effects, gaming and virtual reality)
  • ghostly atmospheres in literature and folklore
  • aesthetic approaches to atmospheres (clouds in painting and poetry)
  • marketing of atmospheres (dark tourism, ‘seedy’ cities)
  • trade histories (aromatics, incense)
  • speculative fiction about atmospheres
  • cloud cities in film and literature
  • scientific histories of monitoring, controlling and measuring atmospheres
  • architecture and atmospheres


Griffero, Tonino. 2019. “Is There Such a Thing as an “Atmospheric Turn”? Instead of an Introduction” in Atmosphere and Aesthetics A Plural Perspective. Palgrave Mcmillian.

Deadline for full papers and creative submissions: 13 June 2022

Coolabah accepts academic articles (up to 6,000 words), creative fiction and non-fiction (from 3,000–6,000 words), creative work with artist statements (up to 500 words) and poetry (any length).

This journal welcomes the submission of creative work providing that the matter of the creative work concerns exploration of the themes of this journal/edition.

Papers and queries can be sent to “Benjamin Kidder Hodges” and “Claire Rosslyn Wilson”

Coolabah Webpage:

Author guidelines:

About Coolabah:

COOLABAH is the official journal of the Observatori: Centre d’Estudis Australians i Transnacionals / The Australian and Transnational Studies Centre at the Universitat de Barcelona. The aim of the journal is to become an international forum for original research in the field of Australian and Transnational Studies and to be totally interdisciplinary in its content.

Guest Editor Bio:

Benjamin Kidder Hodges (personal website: is an artist and anthropologist originally from Richmond, Virginia whose research-based art and writing draw on folklore, mythology and media archaeology to highlight overlooked histories and speculate about possible futures. This often involves building links between material culture and lived affects from boredom to shock.

While completing his PhD in Anthropology under the supervision of Prof. Kathleen C. Stewart at the University of Texas at Austin he received a Fulbright grant to conduct dissertation research in Bulgaria. This led to his dissertation “Special Affect: Special Effects, Sensation, and Futures in Post-Socialist Bulgaria.” In addition to his writing and exhibitions, he has taught workshops on 3d animation and open source software in Europe, Asia and the U.S. Since 2008, he has been an Assistant Professor at the University of Macau where he teaches filmmaking, media studies, and cultural studies within the Department of Communication.