Film Criticism Special Issue on Film & Merchandise Call For Papers (November 2018)
Guest editors: Dr. Elizabeth Affuso (Pitzer College) and Dr. Avi Santo (Old Dominion University)
Despite Jane Gaines’ (1989) recognition that the cinema screen and the department store display window have long participated in providing audiences with spectacles of consumption that steered shoppers toward one another’s venues, there is surprisingly little work that critically interrogates film-related merchandise. Only recently have scholars started to take this area of study seriously. For example, media industry scholars have begun to pay attention to the creative, legal, and managerial contestations among licensors, manufacturers, and retailers, contending that merchandise is not simply an afterthought of media production, distribution, acquisition, and circulation, but also an area where industry lore about differentiated franchises and consumers are affirmed and challenged. Others contend that the meanings merchandise accrue are constituted through their use as much as by how they are positioned for consumers. On the fan studies front, scholars have become interested in object-oriented fandom as well as ‘fan-trepreneurs’ who sell ‘fan-made merchandise’ through crafting and customization sites like Etsy. These works have explored the commoditization of fandom, but they have also sought to understand what fan communities ‘do’ with merchandise and how fan-based economies operate. There has also been a tendency to explore how merchandise interpellates particular gendered and age-based identities, with fashion and toy-based merchandise receiving the bulk of attention, but scholarship on the intersections of merchandise with race, sexuality, and religion remains scarce as does work investigating the ways film-inspired products have entered into daily routines as household items and other lifestyle categories.
For this special issue of Film Criticism, we are seeking essays that take a variety of approaches to the intersections of film, television, and merchandise that open up new avenues of inquiry to studying the topic.
Possible topics include (but are not limited to):
-Industrial, consumer and fan sense-making practices when it comes to merchandise (i.e., their imagined appeal to various constituencies, their “authenticity”)
-Films about merchandise and/or product integration within films (The LEGO Movie, Toy Story, The Devil Wears Prada)
-When manufacturers become entertainment companies (Hasbro, Mattel, Sketchers)
-Industry lore, trade rituals, and their impact on merchandising
-Film merchandise beyond toys and fashion (including everyday household and luxury items)
-Merchandising beyond the franchise/tentpole/blockbusters
-Branded educational, nutrition, health and hygiene merchandise (or the use of branded merchandise within schools, healthcare, and other service industries)
-Merchandise and transmedia storytelling
-Packaging and product design
-Race and merchandise (merchandise featuring diverse racial groups or failing to do so; merchandise marketed to diverse racial groups; merchandiseused by diverse consumer and fan groups)
-Merchandise beyond child markets (including adult merchandise)
-Merchandise and the troubling of gender binaries
-Celebrity and merchandise (or celebrity and lifestyle)
-DIY merchandise and the logics of customization/maker cultures (as well as anxieties over 3D printers and other DIY technologies)
-Merchandise and performative consumption (or interactive consumption)
-Merchandise and (commoditized) self-expression/group affiliation
-Ethnographies of merchandise usage among fans or different consumer groups
-Promotional giveaways and premiums
Essays should be a maximum of 7000 words including notes and references and use Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition (http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html). Please submit essays electronically as a Word document file to firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions should also include a cover page with: (a) all authors’ names, academic affiliations, and e-mail addresses; (b) author biography, no more than 70 words in length; and (c) an abstract of 150 words or fewer. Drafts should be submitted for review by May 1, 2018. You will receive acknowledgment of your submission within ten days. Works accepted for this special issue will be returned to contributors with reviewer feedback by July 1 and revised drafts will be due on September 1 for a November 2018 publication date.