Small-Screen Souths: Interrogating the Televisual Archive [Edited Collection]

full name / name of organization: 
Gina Caison, Lisa Hinrichsen, and Stephanie Rountree
contact email: 
smallscreensouths@gmail.com

In recent years, the advent of reality television’s “hicksploitation” alongside the rise of scripted dramatic series such as True Blood and The Walking Dead has seemingly kept the U.S. South as a small-screen spectacle of wonder and exceptionalism. Yet the broader historical archive of televisual representation of the region reveals a more complicated picture of how television generates, enables, contaminates and disrupts discourses about the U.S. South, forming a medium for the reproduction of dominant ideologies about life in the region while also simultaneously broadcasting oppositional, subordinated, and alternative ways of thinking about space and place.

Capitalizing on recent innovations in southern studies, cultural studies, media studies, and American studies, this proposed collection will take on the large stakes of the small screen to examine how, from The Beverly Hillbillies to Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta, much of the nation has long viewed the U.S. South through their televisions. In seeking to question and complicate the way that, as Katherine Henninger has aptly noted, “dominant narratives of southernness, black and white, privilege oral over visual expression, word over picture,” Small-Screen Souths: Interrogating the Televisual Archive will contribute to a body of emerging work that seeks to reveal the South as an intensely visual space while also demonstrating how television studies can participate in and even suggest new avenues for ongoing transformations in southern studies.

Small-Screen Souths: Interrogating the Televisual Archive, which has attracted the initial interest of a major university press, thus aims to bring together essays that critically interrogate televisual representations of the region and fill a significant gap in the existing scholarship on the U.S. South by considering the “South” and the televisual archive broadly, from sites of reception to archival presences in unexpected places. In examining the relationship between the U.S. South and television, this collection will examine how the televisual South speaks to national and transnational transformations, including changing modes of conceptualizing race, class, gender, and regional identity itself. We seek analyses of representations of the South from both the classical network era, and our contemporary “post-broadcast” era, where traditional definitions of imagined communities—signified by national audiences, national networks, and national programming—are no longer adequate for understanding current configurations of community and identity.

In so doing, we aim to engage with a wide variety of questions regarding the relationship between the U.S. South and television. How does television work to complicate or reaffirm the traditional iconic elements of “the South”? What does this material tell us about the continued (mis)conception of the region as a site of national exception? How does televisual representation help us interrogate the performative nature of regional studies? How does television entrench or complicate certain ways of seeing the South in relationship to the nation at large? Does television provide the space for a performance of place that can illuminate the transnational or hemispheric affiliations between the U.S. South and the Global South, or otherwise reveal aspects of the region’s complicated cultural hybridity and multiplicity?

Individual essays may of course be more focused and might consider the following topics:

* Television’s cultural influence on popular conceptions of the South
* Television and the commodification of the region
* Television’s relationship to lived social environments and material conditions in the South
* Televisual representations of racial constructions in the region
* Television, memorialization and memory
* The South and the politics of televisual pleasure
* Issues of genre: television and the southern gothic, the grotesque, etc.
* The role television plays in generating, mediating or resisting social change in the region
* Television’s role in globalizing the South and/or exporting “the South” to a global market
* Television’s relationship to the cultural logic of late capitalism
* The South and comedy /the sitcom South
* Television and the temporality of the South
* Broadcasting the sexual politics of the South
* Televisual representation of nation, class, sexuality, gender, youth and race
* Television and the nation-state / televisual nationhood
* Television and the representation of the urban and/or rural South
* Issues of authenticity and exploitation
* Television’s relationship to convergent media, including advertising and intermedia

500 word proposals should be sent to Gina Caison, Lisa Hinrichsen, and Stephanie Rountree at smallscreensouths@gmail.com by September 1, 2014. For those asked to contribute to the collection, completed essays of approximately 7,000 words will be due by January 15, 2015. Submissions from both established and emerging scholars are welcomed, as is work from multiple perspectives and disciplines.

cfp categories: 
american
film_and_television
popular_culture
twentieth_century_and_beyond