CFP: 100 People Who Changed American Entertainment 5/15/2011

full name / name of organization: 
Robert Sickels/Whitman College
contact email: 

Contributions are being sought for 100 People Who Changed American Entertainment, a two volume edited collection, which is under contract and slated for publication in 2012.

The title alone is fabulously intriguing; it's interesting and evocative and the kind of thing likely to fuel endless debate about the choices contained therein, and that's just what a collection encompassing this topic should do. That said, a project of this nature's biggest potential pitfall is the chance of its confusing popularity with influence, and if you're talking about actually changing American entertainment, influence is often overlooked even though it can have far more importance than popularity, although the two certainly aren't mutually exclusive. By favoring the popular when deciding who to include, we'd run the risk of producing a fairly straightforward and predictable collection. Conversely, while there surely would be some figures who would make the cut under either qualification, by considering influence as the most important factor for inclusion the resultant collection will be more pleasingly motley, surprising and contentiously engaging, which is why influence is of the utmost importance in determining just who to consider for 100 People Who Changed American Entertainment.

However, even with this method of discernment in place, there's a greater question the title raises and it's this: what, exactly, does "entertainment" entail, anyway? Of course movie industry figures will come into play, but who else? Indeed, in contemporary culture, what exactly does "entertainment" encompass? We don't have a definitive formula, but neither does any one else in the world; after all, it's not math, there's no right or wrong here. But in making our decisions we'll take into account a variety of things, including both the longevity and breadth of one's influence across popular culture, almost every component of which now falls loosely under the "entertainment" rubric.

At the moment, there is a master list of approximately 200 prospective entries. Please email us for the list. If there is someone not on the list that you'd like to write about, pitch it to us, as we're open to suggestion. No one author can contribute more than three entries. Finished essays are expected to be 3,500 words, which includes end notes, and accessible to a broad audience of non-experts. Due dates will be negotiated with individual authors.