Right: Lin-Manuel Miranda in the title role of his musical Hamilton, April 20, 2016. Credit: Steve Jurvetson. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

CFP: “Whitewashing and Racebending: Diversity in Literature and Popular Culture” (Northeast MLA, April 2018, Pittsburgh), Submission Deadline 9/30/17

Right: Lin-Manuel Miranda in the title role of his musical Hamilton, April 20, 2016. Credit: Steve Jurvetson. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Rafael Ponce-Cordero and I have collaborated on numerous sessions at the Northeast Modern Language Association, focusing on representations of gender, race, and other markers of identity in comics and graphic narratives. For this session, we are interested in looking beyond comics and graphic narratives to consider numerous practices of changing the identity of a character in adaptations and other re-imaginings of earlier texts. Source material may include comics and graphic narratives but can be expanded to adaptations of traditional texts, films, plays, and fan productions.

Please forward the full call for papers below to potentially interested contributors. 300-word abstracts are due online September 30, 2017, at https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/S/16951. If you have any questions for Rafael and me, please email derek.s.mcgrath@gmail.com or message me on Twitter.

Whitewashing and Racebending:
Diversity in Literature and Popular Culture

How has it been progressive or restrictive to change the race or ethnicity of a character in adaptations of literature and other texts? How do such choices in character design and casting increase diversity? How do such choices perpetuate problematic legacies from the source material? Examples may include stage, film, and fan productions of novels, plays, and comics.

This year saw whitewashing of Asian characters from comics, as in Doctor Strange and Ghost in the Shell, as well as missed opportunities to re-cast Danny Rand in Netflix’s adaptation of Iron Fist and expunge the white savior narrative that has plagued that kung-fu comic. This panel will examine diversity beyond these adaptations of comics and consider whether and how popular culture in general addresses limited diversity in literature, especially in casting choices for adaptations, and what makes such adaptations effective or ineffective in addressing such real-life problems. Additional examples we anticipate submitted abstracts will consider include whitewashing in adaptations of religious texts such as Exodus, adaptations of video games such as Prince of Persia, adaptations of animated series such as Avatar: The Last Airbender, and adaptations of real-life stories such as 21. We will also consider progressive work accomplished in racebending, in stage adaptations such as Harry Potter and Hamilton, fan productions such as cosplay, and, returning to comics, adaptations such as The Flash, Supergirl, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Please submit 300-word abstracts and brief biographical statements by September 30, 2017, directly through NeMLA’s system: https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/S/16951

The 49th Annual NeMLA Convention will take place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on April 12-15, 2018.

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