Call for Proposals: The Cultural Inbetween: Exploring Distinctions Between Popular, High, and Low Culture

deadline for submissions: 
May 29, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Scaffold: Scaffold: Journal for the Institute of Comparative Studies in Literature, Arts and Culture

Scaffold 2023 Call-For-Papers


Scaffold is a new open access, peer reviewed graduate journal for the Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Arts, and Culture at Carleton University. As part of our inaugural issue, we are accepting submissions for essays and exhibition reviews from graduate students across disciplinary boundaries in connection with ICSLAC’s 2023 Graduate Conference theme: 

The Cultural Inbetween: Exploring Distinctions Between

Popular, High, and Low Culture


In 1996 Richard Peterson coined the term “cultural omnivore” to describe the changing tastes of the West. He believed that the cultural ‘diet’ of the average person was beginning to include a selection of both intellectual high art and popular culture. With the advent of streaming, self-publishing and fanfiction, and the rise in privileging alternate forms of art, more people consume in a way that Peterson would call culturally omniverous. However, does culturally omnivorous still mean the same thing now?


The inaugural issue of Scaffold will focus on critically engaging with current perspectives on popular culture as people have grown more culturally omniverous. In recent decades, there have been increasing conversations in the spheres of museology, high art, and culture as to its relationship to mass media and popular culture. This includes debates by the Oscar’s film committee to introduce a popular film category, debates about the cultural status of video games, and the re-examination of other artistic modes in literature and the fine arts.


We welcome submissions by graduate students from a variety of perspectives and disciplinary approaches that seek to critically engage with and examine a diverse range of topics, including, but not limited to:

  • Where historically has pop culture sat in the divide between high and low art, and where does it sit now? 

  • Why are more people culturally omnivorous? 

  • Examples of popular culture that straddle the divide of high and low culture? 

  • Thinking of Bourdieu’s work on the power of television, why are some genres of film or television considered more intellectual than others, such as drama as opposed to comedy or horror? 

  • Where do video games as an art form fit – particularly the debate between more narrative driven games and more casual games? 

  • High culture vs low culture in literature, including the new subgenre of TikTok books, self-publishing, the role of fanfiction, and the current status of historically dismissed genres such as romance? 

  • How have institutions such as the museum grappled with the tension between high and low art – exhibitions on popular culture, exploring alternate museologies entirely?


Proposals for essays should be 300-500 words long, include 5 relevant keywords, and a short 50 word author bio.

Exhibition review proposals should include a short 300 word proposal, which clearly indicates the exhibition being reviewed and its institution, as well as a short 50 word author bio.


All proposals should be sent to no later than May 29th.

Successful applicants will be notified by June 9th, with full submissions due in the early Fall. Essay submissions are required to be around 5000 words in length, while exhibition review submissions will be around 1500 words in length. 


After full submissions have been received, they will undergo a double blind peer-review process, after which they will be published with revisions in the first issue of Scaffold towards the end of 2023.