Call for Abstracts: American Speed: Essays on Motor Sports and North American Culture
An edited collection of essays on motor sports and American culture, past and present.
Popular wisdom says that automobile racing began in America as soon as the second car was produced. Whether or not actually true, auto racing did take hold in the United States at the end of the nineteenth century, shortly after the new invention’s introduction to this country. Since then, it has flourished in many forms: in sport car racing, rallies, dragsters, open wheel racing, and most popularly of late, stock cars.
But while auto racing’s participants usually attribute their involvement with the sport—in whatever form—to a love affair with technology, speed, or competition, the allure for racing’s fans has been a little more elusive to identify.
This answer becomes more relevant as automobile racing continues to grow in popularity and economic and cultural significance, especially with the recent, rapid expansion of stock car racing and its chief sanctioning body, the National Association for Stock Car Automobile Racing (NASCAR). It leads all other forms of racing—in addition to all professional sports except for football—in revenue and audience growth, both on television and at the races themselves. And unlike many mainstream critics’ allegations, NASCAR’s and American racing in general’s development is not restricted to niche elements of American society who are allegedly entertained by watching cars go in circles or by awaiting wrecks. Open-wheel racing’s attractive and articulate new female star, Danica Patrick, for example, is now a spokeswoman for the consumer products of mainstream America. NASCAR, too, has successfully partnered with corporate America, its cars’ sponsorships carrying Fortune 500 brands’ advertising to an increasingly affluent audience.
This collection of essays, the first of its kind, seeks to evaluate the impact of automobile racing on different facets of American culture. Its essays will suggest what racing means to America and American society, and the influence of the sport and its culture upon the American people, whether currently, in the past, or in the future. The editors seek scholarly, critical essays that would not only inform a general audience, but are rigorously documented and theoretically informed enough to be of value to an academic audience as well. Essays on NASCAR are welcomed, but the scope of this volume is not restricted to stock car racing. Topics may include, but are not limited to:
The historical, political, economical, and/or social timing and implications of automobile racing’s growth throughout United States history, up to and including the present time; the cultural significance of auto racing myths and legends; American auto racing’s increasing globalization, to include the involvement of foreign businesses (including manufacturers), non-native drivers, and races in other countries; racing’s connection to local communities, especially weekly racing series, dirt tracks, and street racing; fan communities or race tracks as sites of community; races as cultural rituals, performances, or spectacular events; racing and commodification; racing and a focus on drivers’ bodies or personalities; issues of race, gender, and age in racing; racing and its relationship to engineering and technology, especially consumer products; and racing and corporate America.
Abstracts addressing any of these or other topics are due February 1, 2007. Completed papers will be due October 1, 2007.
American Studies Program
The College of William & Mary
PO Box 8795
Williamsburg, Virginia 23187
or Mark Howell
Northwestern Michigan College
1701 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49686. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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