Rupturing Post-Racial Fantasies: The Rhetorical Politics of Race and American Popular Culture Since the Ferguson Uprisings

Byron Craig's picture
Call for Publications
September 17, 2020 to November 15, 2020
Subject Fields: 
Communication, Composition & Rhetoric, Film and Film History, Race / Ethnic Studies, Women's & Gender History / Studies

Call for Chapters: Edited collection: “Rupturing Post-Racial Fantasies: The Rhetorical Politics of Race and American Popular Culture Since the Ferguson Uprisings”



Byron B Craig,





In the 21st century, racial representation in film, television, and other forms of entertainment media has been challenged and negotiated in ways that have begun to reshape the landscape of what and how we watch race. Rupturing Post-Racial Fantasies analyzes and critically responds to the racial rhetorics of American popular culture since the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014. The central argument of the book is that Brown’s death, and the civic protests that his death engendered, have transformed the rhetorical landscape of American racial politics. Like other historical events that immediately capture the cultural mood of an era by the mere evocation of them, such as “Pearl Harbor” or “9/11,” we argue that “Ferguson” symbolically stands as an event in our popular political lexicon that summarizes the rupturing of what we shall call America’s “post-racial fantasy.”


The aftershocks of Ferguson have been felt across America ever since, including the rise of a new civil rights movement replete with massive nationwide protests and a renewed discourse of social justice around the historical legacy of structures of systemic racism that has accompanied the recent murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Rayshard Brooks. Grounded in an ideological investment in the normative value of “colorblindness,” America’s “post-racial fantasy” has served as a basis for the symbolic retelling of American history in a way that has sought to vindicate its violent past of slavery and Jim Crow segregation while affirming the nation’s mythic conviction in its own exceptionalism. 


Leading scholars of race – including Franz Fanon, bell hooks, and Stuart Hall, among others – have long recognized the persuasive power of visual representation, and scholars of rhetoric in particular have analyzed the ways that public dramatizations (be they through film, television, social media, theatre) serves as a symbolic site for the rhetorical politics of race. The films, television series, and digital media that constitute popular culture are discursive sources of shared political fantasy. By “political fantasy” we mean the narrative and scopic regimes of the visual and symbolic that define the dramatic and ideological boundaries of political expression, performance, and social agency.


In this volume, we seek chapters that employ techniques of close critical analysis to map and critically interrogate how contemporary media texts within American popular culture negotiate the political fantasy underlying the racial project of our time: post-race. We seek to engage with chapters that include but are not limited to the examination of media as it intersects with a number of rhetorical approaches. Possible topics may include but are not limited to films, television series, limited series, theatre, social media, etc., that examine the following:

  • The way race constrains opportunity in the United States
  • The way in which it diagnosis white supremacy/white oppression
  • Confirmation and reinforcement of the ideological framework(s) of racism
  • Racialization through its narrative discourse
  • Racial appropriation
  • Reinforcement of race and racial stereotypes
  • Models of Black sexuality (Black Feminism/Black Masculinity)
  • Afro-Futurism/Afro-Pessimism
  • Racial politics
  • Violence on racialized bodies
  • Racial discontent in the 21st century
  • “Woke” culture as expressed through media


Deadline for proposals: November 1, 2020


Notification of acceptance: December 15, 2020


Deadline for first drafts: March 15, 2020


How to submit your proposal:


Please submit one-page abstracts/proposals to and cc each editor’s email address.  Be sure to include both a tentative title, a preliminary bibliography, and short biographical note.  You may send questions to Byron Craig (, Patricia Davis (, or Stephen Rahko ( as necessary.


About the Editors:


Byron Craig is an Assistant Professor in the School of Communication at Illinois State University


Patricia Davis is an Associate Professor in the Communication Studies Department at Northeastern University


Stephen Rahko is a Lecturer in the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University 


The book is under contract with the University Press of Mississippi. We anticipate a publication date in late 2022.

Contact Info: 

Byron B Craig

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