[REMINDER] Essay Collection on the Films of Robert Downey Jr. PROPOSALS DUE OCT. 11

full name / name of organization: 
Erin E. MacDonald, Fanshawe College
contact email: 

I have an agreement with McFarland (a company that publishes academic studies of pop culture, among other things) to edit a collection of essays on the films of Robert Downey Jr. and am soliciting proposals (300-500 words) for previously unpublished essays (15-30 pages) on any of his films and/or performances. These should be serious academic studies but with a standard formal English (not too theoretical or jargony) tone. Writers may take any angle for which they have expertise (film, theatre/performance, cultural studies, queer studies, pop culture, etc.). Downey should be a main but not necessarily the sole focus of the essay. Here is a list of possible suggested topics, but other ideas are most welcome:

- Tropic Thunder and the Postmodern Comedy
- Queer theory analyses of Downey's performances in such films as Less Than Zero, Wonder Boys, One Night Stand, Home for the Holidays, and/or Sherlock Holmes
- Humanizing Chaplin
- Iron Man: The Irreverent Superhero
- John Hughes and Weird Science
- His performances in the films of Robert Downey, Sr.
- The Serial Killer and the American Media: Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers and David Fincher's Zodiac
- Downey as Detective: The Singing Detective, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and Sherlock Holmes 1 and 2
- The Actor's Actor: Downey and the Art of Improvisation
- The Avengers and the Economics of Hollywood
- Downey's relationship with writer/director James Toback in The Pick-up Artist, Black and White, and Two Girls and a Guy
- The Avengers in a Post-9/11 America

Named Hollywood's most valuable star in 2012, Academy Award-nominated and Golden Globe winner Robert Downey Jr. has appeared in over 75 films, documentaries, and TV shows since his first role as a five-year-old in 1970. He is one of few actors to have consistently won high praise from critics and fans alike, for his intense, naturalistic performances. His roles in movies such as Less Than Zero (1987), Chaplin (1992), Iron Man (2008), and Sherlock Holmes (2009) have intersected with three decades of our culture's preoccupations with youth, self-destruction, the detective figure, race, and sexuality. Working with directors from Fincher, Toback and Attenborough to Favreau, Ritchie, and Black, Downey has played gay characters, a superhero, and even a black man.

Tracing the progression of Downey's career through an in-depth analysis of his most important films allows us to measure the pulse of contemporary pop culture because he acts as a barometer of the zeitgeist by playing some of the world's most iconic, larger-than-life characters (Chaplin, Iron Man, Sherlock Holmes). He has brought widespread popularity to works and genres that diversely aged and educated audiences might not otherwise have taken an interest in, simply through his trademark wit, irreverence, realism, and charm. Perhaps no other actor today has as much combined visibility, versatility, respectability, and licence to court controversy as he.

Abstracts/proposals should be e-mailed to eem@sympatico.ca by October 11, 2012. If your proposal is accepted, completed essays in MLA documentation style will be due to me by March 1, 2013.

Please include with your proposal a brief biography of yourself (2-3 sentences) highlighting your area of academic expertise and any related publications, and/or a c.v..

Send proposals and/or queries to:
Erin E. MacDonald, Ph.D.
Professor, Fanshawe College
London, ON Canada