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CFP - Good Grief(s): Historical and Culture Readings of Peanuts

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Deadline date: 
15 Mar 2017

Call for Papers for an upcoming edited anthology
Good Grief(s): Historical and Culture Readings of Peanuts

Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts was not only a milestone in comic art, but a reflector and shaper of American culture throughout the twentieth century. From its humble origins in 1950, Schultz’s deceptively simple line art conveyed the gamut of human experiences, capitalizing on universal themes from unrequited love to happiness being nothing more than embracing a warm puppy. Schulz, who continuously produced a new installment every day for fifty years, drew on a wealth of historical and cultural references, from World War I and The Great Gatsby to Ludwig von Beethoven and Vincent Van Gogh. Contemporary issues, including Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s record, the Apollo moon landing, and prayer in schools all appeared throughout his strip’s lifespan.

The ubiquity of Peanuts in the funny pages, on greeting cards, appearing in animated specials, and other facets of American culture have largely shielded it from cultural analysis. Not surprisingly, the majority of attention focuses on art criticism, or, more pointedly, art appreciation. Works, such as Schulz’s own celebratory anthologies of reprints, Chip Kidd’s The Peanuts: The Art of Charles M. Schulz, Robert L. Short’s The Parables of Peanuts, and Richard Greene’s and Rachel Robinson-Greene’s Peanuts and Philosophy, address Schulz’s contribution to the American zeitgeist, but barely scratch the surface of the rich cultural textures contained within.

This anthology is the first work to touch upon Peanuts as a historical and cultural document. The characters and props—ranging from Lucy’s psychiatric booth to Snoopy’s dog house to Charlie Brown’s pitcher mound—are certainly ripe for explorations of historical and cultural themes in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

While Schulz’s cast of characters have appeared in other media, including Broadway shows, decades of television specials, a motion picture, and various collectible memorabilia, the primary focus should remain on the comic strip. Submissions should consider one storyline, character, or theme during a set of years; an analysis of “Lucy vs. The Masked Marvel” has a greater chance of being accepted than a broad overview tracing Charlie Brown’s characterization from 1950 to 2000.

Potential topics include but are no means limited to:

  • Little Folks: Creating an Adult-less Environment in the Cold War
  • Security (Blankets) and Childhood in American Malaise
  • “Our Manager”: Professionalization of Little League and Youth Sports
  • The Great Pumpkin: Religiosity, Spirituality, and Secularism in the latter Twentieth Century
  • The Doctor is “in”: Diagnosing the Therapeutic Generation
  • Shermy and Patty: The Disappearance of the Ordinary in a World of Neurotics
  • The Cat Next Door: Belligerence across an Iron Curtain
  • First Beagle on the Moon: The Space Race
  • Franklin: Facing the Color Line in the Civil Rights Era
  • Blockheads: The Art of the Loser in American Culture
  • “Weird Sirs”: Peppermint Patty and Marcie in the Feminist Era
  • Red Barons and Root Beer: The Great War and Nostalgia
  • Crabbiness and Femininity
  • Re-run Van Pelt: Remaking childhood in the 1990s
  • Woodstock, Joe Cool, and Counter-culture Movements
  • “Classic” Peanuts: The longevity of Schulz’s strip in a post-2000 world

This anthology anticipates the seventieth anniversary of Peanuts, with a planned publication date of 2018/2019. It is under contract to McFarland & Co. Abstracts of 250 words are due March 15, 2017. All submissions will be acknowledged.

Contributors’ first drafts will be due by mid-September 2017.

Final drafts are due by February 14, 2018. Final drafts will run approximately 20 pages and reflect Peanuts’s wide readership of academics and popular audiences alike.

The book will certainly serve as a capstone for examining the entirety of Charles M. Schulz’s universe as well as a launching point for further Peanuts studies.

Contact: Peter W. Lee, Drew University, Plee1@drew.edu