Race, Ethnicity and Nationality in the Works of Joss Whedon

full name / name of organization: 
Lowery Woodall and Mary Ellen Iatropoulos
contact email: 

CFP: Book Collection: Race, Ethnicity, and Nationality in the Works of Joss Whedon

Editors: Mary Ellen Iatropoulos and Lowery Woodall

Description: "Not exactly a haven for the brothers, strictly the Caucasian persuasion here in the 'Dale'," wryly muses Mr. Trick during his first moments in Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Indeed, with the majority of characters in of each of Joss Whedon's televisual works being Caucasian and of American, British, or otherwise "Western" cultural descent, whiteness and white privilege are narratalogically centered yet inconsistently articulated throughout the Whedonverses. Similarly, diversity of race, ethnicity, and nationality rarely occupy the foreground of the narrative within Whedon's works, and what representations do exist of people/communities of color, indigenous peoples, and "minority" cultures have been hotly contested by fans and scholars alike. While several recently published books contain chapters devoted to exploring issues of race, ethnicity, and nationality (The Literary Angel, Investigating Firefly/Serenity, Reading Angel), and though each year many presentations at pop culture conferences touch upon these topics, no single volume devotes itself exclusively to investigating the ways in which race, ethnicity, and nationality operate in the Whedonverses.

To fill this gap, we are soliciting abstracts for an edited collection of essays tentatively titled Race, Ethnicity, and Nation/ality in the Works of Joss Whedon. We are interested in any and all topics that investigate the role of race, ethnicity, heritage, nationhood, nationality, culture, identity, and social hierarchy/ privilege in the Whedonverses. Essays may approach Whedon's works from a variety of disciplines, as long as they address how race, ethnicity, nation, and nationality shape, function in and/or complicate the production realities (staffing, producing, casting, etc. of the shows themselves), characters, narratives, and/or interpretations of Joss Whedon's works.

Topics: Essays may address any of Joss Whedon's televisual works (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly/Serenity, Dollhouse, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog) and/or comics (Buffy Season 8, Fray, The Astonishing X-men, Tales of the Vampyres, Tales of the Slayers, Sugarshock). Essays may address the "Whedon" school of writers (e.g. Jane Espenson, Marti Noxon, Drew Goddard) and their works outside the Whedonverses, but only insofar as they pertain to examining Whedon's work.

Possible topics include:
● Constructions of nationhood and/or nation-based identity (i.e. American, British, Romani, Jewish, etc.)
● Casting controversies: race, role, and representation
● Racism, racial stereotypes and/or internalized Otherness as narrative device and/or characterization tool
● Constructions of whiteness in the Whedonverses
● Treatment of indigenous people and/or historically oppressed cultures (i.e. colonialism, imperialism, Orientalism, etc.)
● Presence/absence/erasure of race/ethnicity in depictions of space and place
● The villianization/victimization of ethnicity
● The Otherness of Slayerdom or Demon-ness
● Fantastic embodiments of lightness and darkness
● Critique of representations of specific races/ethnicities through individual characters; may be recurring (i.e. Gunn from Angel, Ivy from Dollhouse) or non-recurring (i.e. Ampata from "Inca Mummy Girl," Hus from "Pangs," etc.)
● Close readings of individual episodes or songs that explicitly address themes of race, ethnicity, and nation/ality (i.e. "Nobody's Asian In The Movies" by Maurissa Tancharoen, "That Old Gang Of Mine" from Angel)
● Race, ethnicity, nationality, and language (tensions between satire and stereotyping, etc.)
● Human/vampire relationships as miscegenation
● Contemporary political commentary within Whedon's work with regard to race and ethnicity (i.e. affirmative action, reparations, housing inequities, etc.)
● Explorations of intercultural dynamics across imagined racial boundaries/ demon-human hybridity

Timeline: Proposals will be due June 1st, 2011. Please submit proposals of approx. 500 words as Microsoft Word document (.doc or .docx) attachments to: maryiatrop@gmail.com and lowery.woodall@gmail.com. Please include both your name and your contact information on your proposal.

We will respond to proposals by June 15th, 2011. Essay drafts will be due by September 15th, 2011, and final drafts will be expected by December 15th, 2011. Final essays will be approximately 5,000 words.