Thursday, June 14, 2007

CFP: Kermit Culture: Perspectives on Jim Henson's Muppets

This came to my attention much too late to make a contribution, but if anyone has a Muppets paper kicking around, you might want to consider submitting it (the deadline for abstracts is tomorrow!):

Kermit Culture: Perspectives on Jim Henson's Muppets

Anissa M. Graham and Jennifer C. Garlen seek contributors for a collection of essays considering Jim Henson's Muppets. All aspects of The Muppet Show and other productions or performances featuring the Muppets may be considered, although the editors particularly seek proposals for articles focusing on the original Muppet Show cast of characters. Papers may consider the various films featuring the Muppets, episodes of the original show, Muppets Tonight, appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, particular characters from these programs, their significance as cultural icons, etc. This collection of essays will attempt to demonstrate the importance of The Muppets' influence and appeal, as well as their importance to popular culture studies as a whole.

Some potential subjects of interest include: consumption as recurring motif on The Muppet Show; commentary on stagecraft; the significance of the British-only sketches excluded from American broadcasts of The Muppet Show; representations of science; gender issues, voyeurism, nationhood and the representation of nationalism; literary adaptation in Muppet films; parody; images of the monstrous and deformity.

Proposals should be 150-200 words in length. Please include contact information with the proposal, including academic affiliation, if any. Please title the subject line of the proposal "Kermit Culture" to ensure speedy response, and include the proposal as the text of the email message as well as in attachment form.


The editors hope to have complete articles ready for submission to publishers by Fall 2007 and will be discussing the project with potential publishers as soon as possible.

Prospective contributors may send proposals or complete articles to:

Anissa M. Graham, University of North Alabama,
Jennifer C. Garlen, University of Alabama-Huntsville,

(Please cc proposals to both editors!)

My hope here is that this might launch some more academic interest in Jim Henson's modest but immensely influential body of work. I've read some excellent analyses of Muppet Babies and Jim Henson's The Storyteller by Jack Zipes, and there is of course that great article on Sesame Street by Heather Hendershot, but there is otherwise a shocking lack of critical, communication/media studies-based analysis of these texts and their lasting cultural impact. I would love to do something on the openness of Henson's narratives and how they work to promote playful and creative re-interpretations by child (and adult!) audiences.

And, speaking of Muppets and puppets, I'd like to give a shout out to Calgary-based The Old Trout Puppet Workshop who are currently touring the hilarious and macabre Famous Puppet Death Scenes, which I had the good luck to see last week in absolute must-see if you get the chance.


Izzy Neis said...

I would love to see someone write about how the Henson Culture has now affected television shows and cast-heavy comedy shows (like Scrubs & The Office). I know everyone always alludes to "Monty Python" for such things... but I'm convinced that the current awesomeness that is popping up in US comedies is a result of the grown-up Henson generation... the pandemonium & skitzo humor of minor characters who carry the show.

That would be something I'd love to read about!! ;)

Sara M. Grimes said...

I missed the book's release last May, but it looks like an excellent collection:

Here's the link to the book page on the McFarland (publisher's) website.

And here's the link to the book page on Amazon.