Gladiators in Suits:
Race, Gender, and the Politics of Representation in Scandal
Edited by: Kimberly R. Moffitt, Simone Puff, and Ronald L. Jackson II
Not since the 1970s have viewing audiences seen an uncharacteristically powerful Black woman as a protagonist in a prime time slot on American network television. But for three seasons, viewers have learned a great deal about ABC’s political drama series “Scandal” and its Black female lead, Olivia Pope. She is a formidable presence as a public relations consultant, or “fixer” as known by some, who navigates the world “inside the beltway.” Together with her team of “gladiators in suits” she manages crises and makes problems of Washington’s (political) elite disappear, all while trying to hide her own scandal(ous) affairs from plain sight. The popularity and rating success of the program warrants critical exploration as the show’s diverse cast and complex storylines expose a myriad of issues pertaining to race, gender, sexuality, and the female audience that supports it.
A text on “Scandal” provides an opportunity to analyze the communication, politics, stereotypes, and genre/techniques featured in the television series, while also raising key questions about race, gender, sexuality, and viewing audiences. Additionally, this volume will contribute to the literature pertaining to Black womanhood, femininity, and representation as this series features a Black female protagonist in an overwhelmingly popular and strong role seen as unprecedented since the 1970s show, “Get Christie Love!” The collection offers original and timely perspectives on the study of what currently is one of America’s most popular prime time network television series.
Contributors should submit 500-word proposals, including a one-page bibliography of working sources and a 100-word author bio by September 15, 2014 to GladiatorsinSuitsvolume@gmail.com. Accepted proposals will be notified no later than October 1, 2014 and completed drafts will be due January 31, 2015.
Completed essays will be approximately 20-25 pages in length. All chapters need to be formatted utilizing APA publications standards, and with 12-pt Times New Roman font.
Please feel free to contact any of the editors directly with your inquiries or concerns: Kimberly R. Moffitt (firstname.lastname@example.org), Simone Puff (email@example.com), or Ronald L. Jackson II (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Suggested Range of Possible Chapter Topics
The editors welcome original and unpublished submissions focusing on (but not limited to):
- Genre matters: “Scandal” as political drama vs. soap opera
- The role of social media in the success of “Scandal” (#askscandal, etc.)
- Narrative techniques and concepts of seriality
- Representations of race, class, gender, sexuality, family, etc. within “Scandal”
- Scripting Black femininity and Black masculinity
- Contextualizing the significance of this television series in a media climate that has historically undervalued Black leads
- The historical significance of Black characters in television programs with a political theme/storyline
- Political economy of cultural meaning within reality television
- The evolution of a Black female lead in a television series
- Interracial relationships involving a Black woman
- Representations of the strong Black woman myth/stereotype
- Explorations of morality and the politics of respectability
- “Scandal” in the context of a “post-racial” America
- “Scandal” in a global context and international reception of the series
- Audience reception studies of viewers and patterns of consumption
- Deception studies
- Olivia Pope as role model in fashion
- The comparison of “Scandal” to other female lead television series (e.g. HawthoRNe) or to other current political dramas (e.g. “House of Cards” etc.)
- Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope
- Shonda Rhimes’ work in comparison to this television series