Call for papers

Emotions and other (un)palatable embodied experiences offer a platform for exploring the meaning and power of narratives in various parts and parcels of folklife. Emotions inspire creativity and symbolic expressions, they provide connections and attachments to peoples and things, both positive and negative. While humanities scholars often criticize the dissemination of excitable and contagious emotions in a globalised world, as well as the emotionalization of public discourses, we invite folklorists to focus their research on the resourcefulness of homo narrans and the universally recognized affective, emotional dimensions of storytelling.

The focal point of the ISFNR 2021 congress in Zagreb will be the interdependence of emotion and narration. We ask how and to what extent emotions shape and figure the content and meaning of particular narratives and other (folk) performances, and how narratives and other performances produce emotional attachments, responses, and relations among people. The power of narration is always intertwined with emotional expression and response, but instead of offering ready-made answers, the “emotional turn” in folklore studies provokes a wide-range of questions: What kinds of emotions belong to different folk narratives and other expressions (dance, music, song, visual media)? Do emotions like fear and anxiety form the basis of folk beliefs and folk practices? How do emotionally charged interactions with an audience influence a performer and change the form, genre and meaning of the performance? How does the emotional register of narratives change when they circulate beyond their particular cultural group or move from a folk setting to the mass media and the web? Is there a difference in the ways that historical and contemporary “contagious emotions” provoke collective fears, hysteria and paranoia as well as collective happiness, euphoria, and nostalgia?

The research of digital technology as a tool of expressing and canalising emotions is also welcomed. Questions worth asking are: why and how do particular emotions emerge and circulate in a global social networking, how they (re)shape concept of self and other in communication, what narratives figure as a mode of “emotional governance”, gendered intimacies, therapeutic witnessing, and/or moral conduct confirming both the promise of storytelling and its limitations.

Suggested subtopics and/or panels

  • Narrative genres (and emotions)
  • Performances and emotions
  • Language and emotions
  • History and memory
  • Global emotions, local issues
  • Emotions in digital settings
  • (In)tangible heritage and emotions
  • Festivities and emotions
  • Animals, cyborgs and others

The theme for the ISFNR Folk Belief Network sessions at the next ISFNR conference in 2020 in Zagreb (which deals with Emotions) will be “Fear of the Other“. This is naturally a highly relevant theme in our own times as populist politicians try to make use of the media and social media to whip up support for themselves by fuelling emotions against those who are classed as threatening “outsiders” or “others”. Such fears are regularly reflected in a range of narratives which commonly focus on “beliefs” rather than facts. The fear of the “other” is, of course, deep-rooted in all of our societies, and has long been so. And it does not only refer to people from other cultures but also people within our own societies that we class as being different. In addition, fear can also define our attitude towards supernatural others, animals, technology, foods, vaccinations and other medical practices, beings from other worlds, and more.

The aim of these sessions is to consider not only how these fears are expressed in folk narratives, but also the short and long-term effects that these narratives (past and present) have on the ways in which we think and how we treat other people and how they influence our understanding of social reality.

Papers might consider the following:

  • Fear of the supernatural
  • Fear of the dead
  • Fear of the dark
  • Fear of the unseen
  • Fear of specific creatures (animals, reptiles, birds)
  • Fear of particular spaces/ places
  • Fear of “outside” cultures
  • Fear of deviance
  • Fear of magic/ witchcraft
  • Fear of the other sex
  • Fear of other classes
  • Fear of technology


Please note that you should submit the abstract directly to the Programme Committee in Zagreb.

The ISFNR Committee for Charms, Charmers and Charming will be holding sessions at the Zagreb congress. Please send abstracts on the following topics:

  • Charms and the emotions (e.g. fear, resentment, aggression, love, etc.),
  • Charms in a South Slavic context
  • Charm as text
  • Charming practices documented on film
  • Digitization and the second life of charms
  • The Super petram charm-type in European traditions


Please note that you should submit the abstract directly to the ISFNR 2020 congress’ Program Committee.


Participants of the Zagreb 2020 Congress are reminded that this is an event organized by and for members of the International Society for Folk Narrative Research. To ensure their full ISFNR membership status, participants will be asked to confirm their status with the treasurer Ave Goršic ( The current membership rates are 25 Euros or 30 US Dollars per annum or 100 EUR for the period between two congresses.

Non-members wishing to participate in the Zagreb virtual congress are welcome, but will be expected to pay an additional registration fee of 25 EUR.

Reduced rates for the ISFNR members as well as the non-members will only be applicable for PhD students and independent and retired colleagues, who contact organizers by May 1 (

Submission of abstracts/proposals

The extended deadline for submitting proposals for papers (oral presentations) is April 15, 2021.

The extended deadline is open to all scholars, but above all to the ISFNR members who, for various reasons, failed to register within the 2020 deadline.

All registered participants wishing to revise their abstracts are free to do so by April 15, 2021.

Sessions and panels will be structured according to 11 proposal topics (with a maximum of four participants per session). Participants are kindly asked to indicate the (sub)topic for their papers when submitting the abstracts.

New proposals will be reviewed by the Program Committee in cooperation with the organizers by May 01, 2021. The notification of acceptance or rejection will follow and an online preliminary program will be posted by the end of June 2021. Presentations should not exceed 20 minutes, followed by 10 minutes of discussion, and abstracts should be 200 words long.