Consuming Gender (CfP)

From the delightful 'women laughing alone with salad' meme
At least I’ve got my salad. (Image from the fabulous ‘women laughing alone with salad’ meme.)

Because I’m clearly not busy enough writing my thesis, or putting together two events (see BAVS 2016 and Fantasies of Contemporary Culture), I am excited to announce that I’ll also be co-editing a special issue of Cardiff University’s Assuming Gender journal. If you guessed that the issue title, ‘Consuming Gender’, was inspired by this year’s BAVS theme, ‘Consuming (the) Victorians’, congratulations! You are correct.

You can find the call for papers below:


Consuming Gender

This special issue of Assuming Gender – an online, peer-reviewed academic journal from Cardiff University – seeks to explore the way gender is both presented and consumed through popular media and advertising. As Ann Herrmann points out in the article ‘Shopping for Identities’, commodities ‘are characterised by their dual nature: material composition and symbolic meaning’ (Herrmann 2002: 539). Consumer culture plays a significant role in constructing valid (and normative) identity categories with which consumers are encouraged to identify.

From a Times Higher Education article suggesting that 'students with consumer mindset get lower grades'. Not just blonde, female students, hopefully.
From a Times Higher Education article suggesting that ‘students with consumer mindset get lower grades’. Not just the blonde, female ones, hopefully.

Scholars as diverse as Americus Reed, Laura C. Nelson, and Henry Jenkins have theorised the ways in which identity and consumer culture are intertwined. Reed, for example, claims in ‘Activating the Self-Importance of Consumer Selves’ that ‘[s]ocial identities are mental representations that can become a basic part of how consumers view themselves’ (Reed 2004: 286). In a later article on ‘Identity-Based Consumer Behaviour’, Reed and others use the example of athletics to illustrate their point: ‘if consumers view themselves as “athletes”, they are likely to behave in ways that are consistent with what it means to “be” an athlete’ (Reed, Forehand, Puntoni and Warlop 2002: 310). Consumption thus becomes defined by identity, and identity becomes defined by consumption.

From the mock article 'If Athlete Ads Were Honest', 2012.
From the mock article ‘If Athlete Ads Were Honest’, 2012.

While the construction of identities based on athleticism seems relatively benign, the case quickly becomes more complicated when consumer identities are racially, economically, or sexually coded. In addition to delineating the borders between various interest groups, consumer culture plays a significant role in establishing and maintaining binary identity distinctions (male/female, gay/straight, black/white), undermining the validity of those identifying across or in-between one or more categories, or who refuse categorisation at all. Those identities not classified as valid consumer groups are not seen as valid identities at all.

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No caption needed.

For this special issue of Assuming Gender, we invite articles that focus specifically on the idea of ‘Consuming Gender’. How has consumer culture constructed (and how has it been constructed by) gender through the ages?

Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

·       Consuming gender/gendered consumption

·       Historical contexts of gendered consumption

·       Feminist/postfeminist approaches to consumption

·       Consumption and intersectionality

·       Queer consumption

·       Media constructions of (gendered) consumer identities

·       Post/colonialism and gendered consumption

Please send a proposal of roughly 500 words to Megen de Bruin-Molé, Akira Suwa and Daný van Dam at gender@cardiff.ac.uk under the subject line ‘CFP Consuming Gender’, including your name, e-mail institutional affiliation (if any), and a biographical note (100 words maximum). We welcome papers from scholars of all backgrounds, disciplines, and career stages. The deadline for proposals is 16 October, 2016, and completed papers of 5000 to 8000 words will be expected no later than 16 April, 2017.

Assuming Gender is an electronic journal dedicated to the timely analysis of constructions of gendered texts, practices, and subjectivities. This journal seeks to continue and shift debates on how gender is problematized in contemporary discourses as well as participate in the dialogue and tensions that maintain the urgency of such conversations. Prior issues can be viewed on www.assuminggender.com.


© Sharpe Suiting
Image © Sharpe Suiting

Need some help getting started on an abstract? Check out this 2013 article on how ‘women hold the key to the regeneration of the high street’This more recent piece introduces readers to Queer fashion designer Leon Wu, of Sharpe Suiting. A 2015 study argues that gender neutral toys empower children, and this CSNBC article includes a number gendered shopping generalisations, such as the gem: ‘Men like to read’. US retail giant Target’s move away from gender-based signs is also worth a look. And in the interests of intersectionality, this article argues that ‘advertising is a tax only poor people pay’, while this one discusses the portrayal of black people in a recent Gap ad.

Or you could just watch these YouTube clips:

10 Things I Hate About You – Prada Backpack

Burger King – The Twilight Saga: Eclipse Toys Commercial (2010)

Adam Ruins Everything – Why People Think Video Games are Just for Boys

Consuming (the) Victorians

Image from BBC One's The Paradise © BBC, photographer: Jonathan Ford
Image from BBC One’s The Paradise © BBC, photographer: Jonathan Ford

Are you a Victorianist, or do you just love all things Victorian?

Then feast your eyes on the 2016 British Association for Victorian Studies’ Call for Papers: ‘Consuming (the) Victorians’, brought to you with the help of the invaluable Tom de Bruin! At this 3-day conference, hosted by Cardiff University, we’ll be looking at Victorians practices of consumption, as well as how the Victorians are consumed today. Send your proposal to BAVS2016@cardiff.ac.uk by 1 March, 2016:

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The Victorian age saw the emergence of ‘modern’ consumer culture: in urban life, commerce, literature, art, science and medicine, entertainment, the leisure and tourist industries. The expansion and proliferation of new mass markets and inessential goods opened up pleasurable and democratising forms of consumption while also raising anxieties about urban space, the collapse of social and gendered boundaries, the pollution of domestic and public life, the degeneration of the moral and social health of the nation. This conference is concerned with the complexity and diversity of Victorian consumer cultures and also seeks to consider our contemporary consumption of the Victorian/s.

We welcome proposals for individual papers, and encourage proposals for panels (3-paper sessions), on, but not limited to, the following topics:

Urban spaces and city life: the flâneur/flâneuse, the steam/trolley bus, the rise of suburbia, street cultures

Transformations of the countryside: the Victorian pastoral, the country retreat, the farm, garden cities and model villages, alternative communities

Commerce: the department store, fashion, retail and advertising

Politics: new political mass movements, Chartism, feminism, Fabianism, ‘Victorian values’ in the present

Art: Pre-Raphaelitism, Impressionism, arts and crafts, photography, illustration

Science and technology: the railway, the Great Exhibition and exhibition cultures, the lecture, the gramophone, physics, biology

Science, spectacle and performance: taxidermy, the magic lantern, the diorama, the cinematograph

Literature: the magazine, newspaper, sensation, railway, crime and other popular fiction markets, self-help, religious tracts

Consuming life styles: the Girl of the Period, the Aesthete, the Dandy, the Decadent, the New Woman, the Lion/ess, the fashionable author, interview cultures

Cultures of entertainment and leisure: oper(ett)a, theatre and melodrama, the recital, music halls and concert halls, sheet music and instrument manufacture, the amateur, the club and associational culture, the bicycle, sports, boating

The tourist industry: sightseeing, the preservation of and popular attraction to historical buildings (e.g. National Trust), Baedeker, new (imperial) travel cultures

Medicine and the market place: medical treatments and therapeutics, medical advertising, professional practices, public and private treatment practices, institutional medicine, alternative therapies

The pleasures and perils of consumption: music, food cultures, cooking, chocolate, alcohol, addiction, opium, fashion, smoking, sex

Consuming bodies, moral contagion, social reform and the law: the city at night, prostitution, homosexuality, pornography, the ‘Maiden Tribute’ and trafficking; censorship, temperance, Obscene Publications Acts, Contagious Diseases Acts, National Purity Association, social purity activism, feminism, social welfare movements

The ‘other’ Victorians: the Victorians through the lens of their 19th-century contemporaries; the Victorians and 19th-century Europe; European Victorians

The Victorians and their pasts/Victorian consumption of earlier periods: Victorian medievalism in art and architecture, the Victorian Renaissance

Victorian afterlives: how the Victorian/s have been consumed by subsequent periods, such as the Modernists, Leavisites, faux/retro/post- and neo-Victorianism, heritage film and costume drama, the Victorians in contemporary architecture, art, interior decoration, music

Reception in the Impressionist galleries, with access to the Victorian art gallery, followed by an organ recital and conference dinner, National Museum Cardiff.
House tour of Cardiff Castle, with interior decoration by Victorian architect William Burges.

 

For further details consult our website: BAVS2016.co.uk

All conference presenters are required to be members of BAVS or an affiliated organisation (e.g. AVSA, NAVSA).

Please submit an individual proposal of 250-300 words OR a 3-4 page outline for a 3 paper panel proposal (including panel title, abstracts with titles, affiliations and all contact details, identifying the panel chair), to BAVS2016@cardiff.ac.uk by the deadline of 1 March 2016. Papers will be limited to 20 minutes. All proposals should include your name, academic affiliation (if applicable) and email address.

Enquiries should be directed to Professor Ann Heilmann (BAVS2016@cardiff.ac.uk).

Conference organisers
Megen de Bruin-Molé (PGR, Cardiff), Rachel Cowgill (Music, Huddersfield), Daný van Dam (PGR, Cardiff), Holly Furneaux (English, Cardiff), Kate Griffiths (French, Cardiff), Catherine Han (PGR, Cardiff), Ann Heilmann (English, Cardiff), Anthony Mandal (English, Cardiff), Akira Suwa (PGR, Cardiff), Julia Thomas (English, Cardiff), Keir Waddington (History, Cardiff), Martin Willis (English, Cardiff)

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