Eudora Welty’s Spectacle of Scandal
Guy Debord examined the spectacle through the Marxist lens and discerned that the spectacle draws the public gaze through a collection of images that contain signs that feed on and feed the socially dominant ideology. In other words, spectacles perpetuate the images the ruling class produces to subjugate and degrade. Thus, spectacles are discourses about the ruling class—"a self-portrait of power” (Debord, Society of the Spectacle). A scandal is a spectacle that violates the social norms of the ruling class, even as it draws the public gaze through sensationalizing the social transgression. If we treat scandal as a spectacle that reveals the codependent relationship between social reality and social power that seeks to shape the appearance of social reality through images, then we may analyze spectacles of scandal as tools that confront social practice while also being part of that practice.
Welty fans and scholars alike know there is no shortage of scandal as spectacle in Eudora Welty’s works or in her performance as a female writer. Because spectacles serve the ruling class, they can often hide a subversion of the images that redirect ridicule or criticism at the ruling class. In other words, spectacles can wreak havoc on interpretation. Given Welty’s adroit use of spectacle, it is not surprising that, despite the political hiding within the spectacle, her critics have stated that Welty avoids the political. Harriet Pollack’s and Suzanne Marrs’ book Eudora Welty and Politics uncovers the political in Welty’s works. In keeping with SAMLA’s theme, the panel “Eudora Welty’s Spectacle of Scandal” looks for papers that explore the ways in which Welty herself or her works create spectacles out of scandals, social transgressions, and rebellions that ultimately engage in the political, make fun of the ruling class, challenge social norms, ideology, and laws. How may the visibility of these spectacles or scandals spotlight the need for change or energize a revolution against the status quo? How may the language within these spectacles serve as signs already made within the ruling production even as the alienated real rises up through the spectacle? How do the visuals of these spectacles move readers to an awareness of social injustices impacting those caught in the intersections of oppression?
Presentation abstracts (300 words) should be sent to Dr. Ren Denton at firstname.lastname@example.org by June 15, 2020.