Approaching the WWE Universe (SCMS 2015)

full name / name of organization: 
Dru Jeffries / Concordia University
contact email: 
dru.jeffries@gmail.com

CFP for Panel: Approaching the WWE Universe
SCMS 2015, Montreal

In Show Sold Separately, Jonathan Gray writes that “we are all part-time residents of the highly populated cities of Time Warner, DirecTV, AMC, Sky, Comcast, ABC, Odeon, and so forth.” World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) undoubtedly belongs on this list as well. Indeed, the media company already conceptualizes itself as a geographical space in spin-offs like WWE Superstars (a comic book taking place in Titan City, a noir-version of the WWE), Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery (an animated film in which Scooby and the gang win a trip to WrestleMania, which is held annually in WWE City), and Slam City (a children’s animated series that reimagines the WWE as a city in which the wrestlers have taken up other jobs). All of these spin-offs from their main programming—which itself includes several weekly television series, live “house shows,” and a monthly Pay-Per-View event—speak to an envisioned future in which the WWE brand has infiltrated all aspects of daily life. The deep integration of social networking into their televised programming is one fairly recent manifestation of this, while the launch of the WWE Network, a subscription service that combines 24/7 programmed content with an extensive on-demand streaming archive, is a massive step toward the company’s actualization as not merely a content producer but a powerful distributor as well.

As the WWE becomes increasingly pervasive across all media spheres and zones of popular culture, this panel seeks to explore what makes the WWE distinctive not only as a content provider but also as a media conglomerate, as well as what makes the WWE perennially appealing as a brand. Possible paper topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:

- Virality/spreadability and the integration of social media in WWE programming
- Realism: maintaining or breaking kayfabe in various contexts (podcasts, Twitter, etc.)
- Wrestling as labour: production culture and the business practices of the WWE
- Capitalism, libertarianism, and the WWE”s political ideology
- The WWE Network
- The function of spin-offs and audience diversification: WWE’s children’s programming (e.g., Slam City) vs. adult programming (e.g., R-rated WWE Films)
- Embodiment in professional wrestling (steroids, plastic surgery, etc.)
- Negotiations of sexual desire/identity and romantic couplings in WWE narratives
- Racialized performance and national identity vis-à-vis “faces” (good guys) and “heels” (bad guys)
- Reception: spoiler culture, “marks” vs. “smarks”
- Militarism and representations of American war efforts (e.g., WWE’s Tribute to the Troops)
- WWE’s charitable works: anti-bullying and literacy campaigns, breast cancer awareness, Make A Wish, etc.
- The evolving aesthetics of televised wrestling: handheld cameras, zooms, instant replays, and the WWE’s house style
- Branding and the WWE
- Cultural studies, fan studies, star studies, or television studies approaches to the WWE
- Analyses of particular storylines

Send abstracts of 300 words (plus bibliography) to Dru Jeffries at dru.jeffries@gmail.com by August 6, 2014. Successful submissions will be notified by August 12.

cfp categories: 
american
cultural_studies_and_historical_approaches
film_and_television
interdisciplinary
international_conferences
popular_culture