Retroactive continuity—”retconning”—is the narrative technique by which creators alter the history of a fictional world in order to open up future narrative potential. What was initially a trope that was a useful metaphor for the ways we negotiate information in a digital age, however, transformed into a more sinister form during and after the 2016 election. Andrew will focus on the good and the bad sides of retconning, and argue that a better understanding of its use in popular fiction can help prepare audiences for the pernicious attempts to retcon reality that we are facing today.
Andrew J. Friedenthal has a PhD in American Studies from UT Austin. He has written two books, one on retroactive continuity and one on the multiverse of DC Comics, and currently makes his living as a copywriter and a theater critic.