CFP: Special issue of Journal of African American Studies on Animated Representations of Blackness (15 Jan 2010)

full name / name of organization: 
C. Richard King
contact email: 

Call for Papers
Special issue of Journal of African American Studies
Animated Representations of Blackness

Prompted by the pending release of the Disney animated feature, The Princess and the Frog, which offers the first Black "princess" in a mainstream animated film and arguably the largest role granted to an African American in a Disney production since Song of the South, the Journal of African American Studies invites submissions for a special issue focused on this film in particular and the topic of animated representations of Blackness more generally (including, the animation of Blackness, and animation and Blackness). Guest editors, C. Richard King, Carmen R. Lugo-Lugo, and Mary K. Bloodsworth-Lugo, recognize in the emergence of The Princess and the Frog a major development in popular culture, highlighting many of the ideological currents of race and racism within the contemporary United States. Consequently, the release of this film affords an occasion to reflect on the changing contours of Blackness in the popular imagination. In keeping with JAAS's mission to enhance the understanding of African American identities and experiences, the editors seek interpretations of Disney's first Black princess and the place of Blacks and Blackness in animated film from a range of disciplinary traditions and theoretical perspectives. Possible topics include:

*intersections of race with gender and/or sexuality in The Princess and the Frog

*representations of history, race relations, and the South in the film

*the notion of a Black princess: why now? why this image?

*reception of The Princess and the Frog in the African American media and community 

*the use of blackness historically and now to market and commercial animated features

*comparative assessments that connect The Princess and the Frog to earlier representations of blackness in the genre or to current constructions of blackness in popular culture

*the importance of multiculturalism, notions of color blindness, and other racial ideologies to the making and consumption of blackness in animated films and The Princess and the Frog in particular

*the significance of entering the Age of Obama and popular assessments of the President and First Lady to reception of the film

*early animated shorts from Disney, Warner Brothers and other Hollywood studios

*Disney classics, including Dumbo, Fantasia, and Song of the South

*the use of voice, cultural elements (hair and dress) and/or musical soundtrack to render blackness and marks its difference in more recent movies, such as Shark Tale, Mulan, Shrek, and Over the Hedge

*the place of blackness in animated television programming, whether directed at children, such as Fat Albert and the Proud Family, or a broader audience, for instance The Cleveland Show and Boondocks

*the life and work of African American animators

*the relatively absence, if not exclusion, of Black arts and artists from the genre

*the prospects of animation producing empowering, grounded, and human portrayals of African Americans

The guest editors welcome submissions on other topics as well and would be delighted to speak to scholars about the possible fit of their work with the special issue. They do ask scholars interested in contributing to contact them by 15 January 2010. Papers of 4,000-7,500 words will be due 1 March 2010 and should conform to the style of JAAS. All submissions will undergo peer review in keeping with the procedures of the journal.