UPDATE: Attention Shoppers! Theorizing the Mall (5/31/06; journal issue)

full name / name of organization: 
Adam Lawrence
contact email: 


postscript: a journal of graduate criticism and theory
is a peer-reviewed, multi-disciplinary journal
published annually by graduate students in the
Department of English Language and Literature at
Memorial University of Newfoundland. Students either
currently enrolled in a post-graduate program or
having recently graduated from one are invited to
submit papers for a special issue exploring the mall
and its itinerant shoppers.

The current trend of constructing "giant" malls
indicates that shopping today is based not on
necessity but on the excessive availability of space,
products, and entertainment. The very size of the mall
now encourages the shopper to spend much more time
exploring its complex geography, its meandering alleys
and distant trajectories that may lead towards some
hopeful bargain. While the shops of old may have been
designed to fulfil needs, today's malls seem to create
them. The promise of multiple products (hair gel that
will hold for hours, deodorant that will last for
days, and furniture that will last for years) and
assorted entertainment (playgrounds for children, pubs
for adults) necessitates further shopping. Such is the
experience of Jack Gladney, the narrator of Don
DeLillo's White Noise (1985), who embarks on a
shopping frenzy as a form of therapy: "I shopped with
reckless abandon. I shopped for immediate needs and
distant contingencies. I shopped for its own sake,
looking and touching, inspecting merchandise I had no
intention of buying, then buying it." The function of
the mall, DeLillo suggests, is to "fill out" the
customer, to find the gaps in the consumer's life—why
three sweaters when you can have several? Why one TV
when you can have two? While this passage may strike
some as a satirical comment on compulsive and mindless
shopping, it also underscores the role of consumption
as art form, a more recent understanding of the
"shopper" as active agent or as bricoleur—someone who
manipulates and converts the products s/he consumes.
For this special issue, postscript seeks submissions
that explore the dynamics of the mall space and the
role of the shopper, and that engage or interrogate
current notions of consumption, use, and creativity as
they relate to the mall.

Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

 - "Field Work": the Ethnography of a Shopper
 - Mall Shopping v. Urban ("street") Shopping
 - Bricolage: Collecting and Re-shaping Consumer
 - The Mall of Mirrors: Postmodern Consumerism
 - Virtual Shopping: Mass Consumption and Mass Media
 - The Semiotics of Shopping: Mall Architecture and
 - Everybody in Khakis: Advertising and the
Manufacturing of Consent
 - Shopping for Religion: Holidays and the Consumer
 - Lonely Downtown: Malls, Box Stores, and the
Reorganization of the City
 - The Mall and the Mirror Stage: Consumption and the
(Dis)Integration of the Modern Self
 - Lost in the Funhouse: Dolphins, Rollercoasters,
and Human Amusements at the Mall
 - I've been Malled: Blowouts, Breakdowns, and
Consumer Violence
 - Mystic Wok: "Multicultural" Foods and the Mall as
Exotic Space
 - Ye Olde Shoppe: Revitalizing and/or Appropriating
"Authentic" Crafts
 - Boutique de la Corps: Beautifying the Body
Papers should be 3000-5000 words, unpublished, and in
MLA format. Submitted essays are subjected to blind
review by either graduate students or faculty members,
depending on the area of specialization. For purposes
of anonymity, your name should not appear anywhere on
the paper. Please enclose a cover page with the title
of your paper, your name, address, telephone number,
email address, institutional affiliation, and a brief
biographical note. Submissions must include three hard
copies and a disk copy of the paper in Wordperfect
format only. Papers will only be returned if a
document-sized SASE is included (international
submissions must include a postal coupon).

postscript also welcomes original cover art
submissions designed for a 7" x 10" space. Please
include a cover letter with the title of the work,
your contact information, and a brief biographical
note. We strongly encourage that cover art submissions
include either a disk or CD with the image or images
submitted for consideration. All submissions must
include a signed letter or release form, giving the
artist's permission for the piece to be used by
postscript. Again, submissions will only be returned
to those who include the appropriate SASE.

Send submissions and/or queries to:
  Co-ordinating Editor, postscript
  Department of English
  P.O. Box 58, Arts Building
  Memorial University of Newfoundland
  St. John's, NF A1C 5S7

You can also contact the Co-ordinating Editor through
email: postscript.mun_at_gmail.com

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         or write Jennifer Higginbotham: higginbj_at_english.upenn.edu
Received on Wed Apr 12 2006 - 10:25:35 EDT