"Gone With the Wind after Gone With the Wind".
Transatlantica, A publication of the French Association for American Studies, has accepted the project of publication "Gone With the Wind after Gone With the Wind". Abstracts due December 15th. Final articles will be peer-reviewed and will need to be completed by March 1st, 2017 at the latest. The anticipated date for publication will be 2018 or beginning of 2019.
Supporting actress Olivia de Havilland said she hoped the movie would have “an unusually long life, perhaps as long as five years.” Nearly 80 years after Mitchell won the Pulitzer Prize, Mitchell’s novel has never gone out of print in the United States; the almost countless foreign editions keep selling too. The film? While calculating exact dollar earnings over a 76-year period is a risky, almost impossible enterprise, no film has earned more money if the figure is adjusted for inflation. Globally, Guinness World Records puts the film’s revenues variously between $3.3 billion and $5.3 billion, topping even such modern cinematic extravaganzas as Titanic and Avatar.
To understand what may justify Gone with the Wind’s appeal and its continued presence on the literary scene is to enter vexed territory and whether one agrees (or not) with Gone with the Wind being a good plot is indeed an entirely different story. The academic attitude towards Gone with the Wind (and Civil War literature as a whole) is probably best exemplified by Floyd C. Watkins in his article ‘Gone with the Wind as Vulgar Literature’:
Southern readers—and foolish romantic readers everywhere—dream of an impossible past, expect more of the present that can be realized, ignore an authentic culture while praising a false culture that never existed, foolishly defend themselves against attacks from the North, use false defenses of illogic and rhetoric, become vulnerable to attacks that could be avoided, fall victim to false and pretentious characters and dreamers and political demagogues, ignore and condemn the yeomanry and the peasantry (205).
Claudia Roth Pierpont supports Watkins’ argument, by recognizing that “in the history of American literature—in all the published histories—[Mitchell’s] place, when she has one, is in a corner part, as a vulgar aside having to do with numbers rather than words. She doesn’t even make it onto the list of the Best Civil War Novels in either of the studies devoted exclusively to the genre”. Surprisingly, Pierpont continues, for a book that has sold as many copies as it has, “Gone with the Wind hasn’t a place in anyone’s canon; it remains a book that nobody wants except its readers” (130).
This project started with the realization that it seems that the public has not had enough of Civil War tales like Gone With the Wind, since even as late as 2015, that is “more than 75 years after the publication of the epic novel by Margaret Mitchell, a prequel with Mammy at its center is set for release in October” (N.Y Times). Published last August, Donald Craig's Ruth’s Journey has placed Mammy at the center of his narrative, thus hoping to provide, according to Peter Borland, his editorial director, “a necessary correction to what is one of the more troubling aspects of [Gone With the Wind], which is how the black characters are portrayed” (New York Times).
On the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the release of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, this project will try to consider “Gone With the Wind after Gone With the Wind”. After all, the timing is perfect: 2016 will mark the 80th anniversary of the novel and 2019 the 80th anniversary of the movie. Given the kinds of racial issues with which the United States has been struggling in recent years and the ongoing disdain for Mitchell's text within the academy, re-opening the pages of GWTW, reflecting on Mitchell's motivations for writing GWTW (which were largely gender driven) as well as her philanthropic work in the wake of GWTW's publication, much of which benefited the African-American community in Atlanta, may be an enlightening exercise.
This issue will be the occasion for academics, researchers, writers, Mitchell lovers, performance and arts practitioners to discuss the novel and the movie-adaptation’s long-lasting legacy.
The issue would welcome proposals (in English or French) on topics such as:
•GWW’ most recent adaptations and appropriations in print, in paintings, on stage, or in the media, new and old (radio, film, television, comics, Internet…)
•The issue of serial writing and directing: dramatic links from one novel to the next; productions or fictions presented as sequels or prequels.
•The posthumous reputation and portrayals of Mitchell and Gone with the Wind: how and why has Gone with the Wind endured?
•Fiction, movie, and poetic aesthetics after Mitchell’s portrayal of a specific kind of South in Gone with the Wind: what does it mean to write the South after Gone with the Wind?
•Recapturing the ‘original’ Gone with the Wind post-facto: Mitchell’s work, the creative process, the publishing process, collecting Mitchell’s South and memorabilia …
•Studying Mitchell’s GWW and its movie-adaptation from the viewpoint of contemporary theories of film, language and literature: how does Mitchell help us to create new concepts or review old ones?
•What's left of GWTW 80 years later? How can we explain the success of recent GWW sequels, rewritings, and adaptations? How could both the novel and film stand the test of time (or not)?
Thanks for your participation
Emmeline GROS, Ph.D.