full name / name of organization:
Where Is White Culture … Other Than at the Gap?
Call for Papers
Midwest Modern Language Association
9-12 November 2006
Elaine: You're black. You said we were an interracial
Darryl: We are. Because you're Hispanic.
Elaine: I am?
Darryl: Aren't you?
Elaine: No. Why would you think that?
Darryl: Your name's Benes, your hair, and you kept
taking me to those Spanish restaurants.
Elaine: That's because I thought you were black.
Darryl: Why would you take me to a Spanish restaurant
because I'm black?
Elaine: I don't think we should be talking about this.
Darryl: So, what are you?
Elaine: I'm white.
Darryl: So, we're just a couple of boring white
Elaine: I guess.
Elaine: Yeah. So do you want to go to the Gap?
The conversation between Elaine and Darryl on
“Seinfeld” seems a suitable enough point of departure
for this M/MLA special session which seeks to examine
the conundrum that is/not white culture.
Arguably, white culture masquerades simply as
“culture,” a de-raced notion that causes other races
to adopt their own referents in relation to it e.g.
“black culture” or “Asian culture.” In turn, those
sentiments that underpin white culture continue to
operate under the radar and are rarely, if ever,
articulated. This special session aims to (1)
determine if those sentiments are tangible enough to
be identified, and, if so, (2) tease the sentiments
Overarching questions to consider include: Does white
culture exist? If so, what is it? What or who
If white culture exists:
Is it high culture, low culture, or in a liminal space
between the two?
Is it a totalizing phenomenology, or is it experienced
differently in different parts of globe?
Is it dictated by urban epicenters such as New York
City and Los Angeles (namely Hollywood), or do rural
areas have a stake in its determination?
In terms of Hollywood, how entrenched in white culture
are television shows like “Friends” and “Sex and the
City”? Why do these types of shows have such purchase
on white culture?
How is white culture commodified? Who can purchase
it, and what form(s) of capital does it require to
make the purchase?
Is white culture under threat as a result of the
“post-race” ideology put forth by, amongst others,
Walter Benn Michaels?
If white culture does not exist:
Does anything exist in its place?
How are white individuals positioned socially without
having a culture?
In the absence of a culture, what are the rallying
points for white individuals? What speaks to the
souls of white folk?
Send abstracts, full-length papers, ideas and/or
queries by 31 March 2006 to (e-submissions preferred):
Nottingham Trent University
College of Communication, Culture and Education
Clifton Campus, Clifton Lane
Note: In order to present at the MMLA Convention,
participants must remit organization membership and
conference dues to the organization by June 1, 2006.
Full details about this painless process are available
at the MMLA website: www.uiowa.edu/~mmla.
From the Literary Calls for Papers Mailing List
Full Information at
or write Jennifer Higginbotham: higginbj_at_english.upenn.edu
Received on Mon Jan 16 2006 - 14:40:50 EST