Friday, February 17, 2012

CFPs: Recycling, Whiteness, Paper and Asperger's Syndrome

These calls for papers aren't specifically about romance: they're about "cultural recycling," whiteness, "the materiality of literary texts" and Asperger's Syndrome. One could, though, discuss romances in conjunction with all of these issues.

Since fairy tales and references to Shakespeare, occur fairly frequently in romance, and since in For Love and Money I took a quick look at some romances which were reworkings of the Pygmalion myth, and others which reworked the tale of Sir Gawain and the Loathly Lady, it seemed to me that romance fiction is full of "allusions and echoes."
Allusions and echoes – cultural recycling and recirculation
An international colloquium at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK
June 16-17, 2012

Deadline for paper/panel submissions is March 30, 2012.

The many ways in which stories are recirculated is astounding – from relatively straightforward retellings of fairy tales and classical myths, to feminist, queer, postcolonial or ecocritical subversions of central themes, to fan fiction’s adaptations of beloved characters and story worlds.

The international colloquium "Allusions and echoes – cultural recycling and recirculation" is an opportunity to explore the various ways in which texts communicate over borders of space, time, genre and medium. What themes, motifs, backgrounds and details capture the imagination of authors, readers and viewers? How are they recycled and recirculated from one period, or one audience, to another? How and why do they gain currency again and again? Contributors are invited to cast their net widely and consider not only contemporary works, such as The Canongate Myth Series (2005-2011) and Cinderfella (1960, 2013) but also older texts, such as Chaucer’s The Physician’s Tale and Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus
More information here.

Apparently "Interracial and interethnic marriages are at an all-time high in the US" (BBC) but I've not seen a lot of work on race in romances (other than The Sheik and romances specifically marketed as being about characters of a particular racial group) since Stephanie Burley's "Shadows & Silhouettes: The Racial Politics of Category Romance" was published in 2000 (in Paradoxa 5.13-14). Abstracts for the following conference are due by today, but maybe it'll still be of interest:

2nd Global Conference
Images of Whiteness
Saturday 7th July 2012 – Monday 9th July 2012
Mansfield College, Oxford, United Kingdom

Since the publication of Richard Dyer’s seminal study 'White' in 1997, academics have increasingly turned critical attention to the subject of racial whiteness. Publications include historical accounts detailing the emergence of whiteness as a racial category, cultural studies exploring the representation and construction of white identities in popular culture, film and television scholars examining narratives about white people, reflecting white themes, white obsessions, and white anxieties. Consistent with the shift in critical studies from minority identity formations to consider ‘central’ identities – masculinity, heterosexuality – the study of whiteness is increasingly understood as central to understanding the operation of ‘race’ as a form of social categorisation. Inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary perspectives are sought from those engaged in any field relevant to the study of whiteness including media and film studies, performance and creative writing, cultural theory, sociology, psychology and medical approaches including cosmetic surgery, and other cognate areas
More information here.

Has publication in the mass-market format affected perceptions of romance novels?
Distinctions that Matter: Popular Literature and Material Culture

Essays are invited for a special issue of Belphégor that seeks to explore the relationship between distinctions of taste and textual production by examining how the materiality of literary texts influences and perhaps even determines their cultural status. In the nineteenth century, for example, printing and binding became cheaper, faster, and more easily accessible than ever before, which resulted in an explosion of print material. As printing costs decreased and print runs increased, the price of books became cheaper and publishers were able to attract more readers, which led to a greater demand for new content. The cultural impact of this shift was twofold. On the one hand, this decrease in printing costs lowered the cultural entrance level, which resulted in the expansion of popular or trivial literature as well as a wide range of new popular formats, such as dime novels, pulp magazines, comic books, and paperbacks. On the other hand, publishers also attempted to mimic the conventions of exclusiveness through printing and binding techniques in order to preserve the highbrow status of literature as a marker of class distinctions. This led to the rise of competing formats that attempted to challenge the perceived lowbrow status of popular literature, such as deluxe editions and graphic novels. As the divide between highbrow and lowbrow taste widened, the materiality of the text became the primary site where the cultural status of popular literature was both constructed and contested. The same issues also inform cultural debates concerning digital media, as cultural distinctions are now being reconfigured through new forms of electronic display in the post-print era.
Abstracts must be submitted by 1 March 2012. More details here.

After the success of Jennifer Ashley's The Madness of Sir Ian Mackenzie and the recent publication of Eloisa James's The Duke is Mine in which the heroine
is torn between a duke with an Asperger's-like inability to express emotion, who relies on logic, and her fiancé Rupert, who is all emotion with almost no logic. (interview with the author)
I wondered if there was some material in romance novels which would be relevant to the following volume:
Bright Lines: Culture On the Autism Spectrum
"Am I on the spectrum?" asks Abed Nadir, a character on the show Community. He then provides an answer: "None of your business." His joke presumes that the audience will understand this reference to the autism spectrum, and Community introduces the topic of Asperger's Syndrome in its pilot episode. Since the publication of Temple Grandin's work on autism in 1986, there has been a textual explosion of work on Asperger's Syndrome and the autism spectrum. Changes to the DSM-V will replace Asperger's Syndrome with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, a broadening that could threaten the culture that aspie/AS-identified people have produced in the form of literature and visual media. This volume would explore representations of autism within popular culture.
Abstracts are due by 1 May 2012. More details here.

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