EVENT Jul 01
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“Jean Seberg: From Actress to Activist” call for chapters

Categories: Digital Humanities, American, Comparative, Interdisciplinary, French, Genre & Form, Popular Culture, Gender & Sexuality, Women's Studies, African-American, Colonial, Revolution & Early National, Transcendentalists, 1865-1914, 20th & 21st Century, Adventure & Travel Writing, Children's Literature, Comics & Graphic Novels, Drama, Narratology, Poetry, Aesthetics, Anthropology/Sociology, Classical Studies, Cultural Studies, Environmental Studies, Film, TV, & Media, Food Studies, History, Philosophy, Miscellaneous
Event Date: 2024-07-01 Abstract Due: 2024-07-01

We are seeking chapters of approximately 5000-6000 words for a scholarly anthology on actress Jean Seberg. This collection will expand upon a successful 2020 SCMS conference panel titled, A bout Jean Seberg: Actress, Activist, Icon, as well as the award-winning documentary by Fourth Wall Films on Seberg’s life titled Jean Seberg: Actress, Activist, Icon (2023). 

Given the recent re-issue of several of her films on DVD and Blu-Ray and the 60th anniversary of Jean-Luc Godard’s A bout de Souffle (Breathless) in 2021, it is obvious that Seberg continues to resonate within popular culture. In the last decade, media attention has tended to focus on Seberg’s political activism with the Black Panthers, and the resulting smear campaign conducted by the FBI that contributed to her downward spiral into depression and still unresolved death at age 40. This anthology aspires to provide a more scholarly focus on Seberg to demonstrate that she was a much more significant figure in cinema and popular culture than the oversimplified summaries of her in film encyclopedias suggest. The editors hope to show that the Hollywood scenario of Seberg as an innocent Iowan with little agency, who lived and died as a tragic figure, is a convenient but inaccurate cover story (in both the literal and the figurative sense), and perhaps even a political whitewash).  To the contrary, Seberg’s semi-expatriate status, her portrayal of strong independent female characters, and her refusal to turn a blind eye to racial inequity and instead use her celebrity status to promote social justice, all prove that she was far ahead of her time, or at least on the cutting edge of it. Her continuing influence as a Transatlantic style icon—the striped Breton top she wears in Breathless continues to be a staple of French girl style even decades after her death—is also evidence of her star power. Our anthology will explore all of these facets of Seberg to argue that she is a far more complex—and an unjustly neglected—figure in film/media studies.


Though we assume most pieces will focus on the actress and her cinematic and real life personae as typically theorized in star studies, we strongly encourage submissions with interdisciplinary approaches. We envision this as an anthology that draws from knowledge bases across such diverse fields as (but certainly not limited to) Critical Race studies, media studies, feminist histories, rhetorical studies, the humanities, American and Transatlantic studies, gender studies, and fashion/dress. Some topics for exploration as they relate to Seberg across her career might include:

Seberg and feminist film theory; Seberg and the male/female gaze 
Seberg and/in the Hollywood studio system (early years at Columbia) 
Seberg within the context of independent cinema 
Importance of Seberg to the rise of international co-productions and stars 
Significance of Seberg to the French New Wave 
Seberg’s work with specific directors (Preminger, Godard, Chabrol, etc.) 
Genres of Seberg’s film 
Specific aspects of Seberg’s movies (such as music scores or costume and set design for the films) 
Significance of Seberg to perceptions of celebrity activism (political, social, etc.) 
Seberg and the FBI 
Seberg’s charity work and commitment to social justice/racial inequity 
Seberg and the Black Panthers/Seberg’s significance in crossing racial and ethnic divisions 
The Seberg look and Seberg’s significance as fashion trendsetter and icon 
The Marshalltown Myth – Seberg’s early life and allegiance to her Iowa roots
Other films about Seberg such as Mark Rappaport’s From the Journals of Jean Seberg (1995) or Benedict Andrews’ Seberg (2019)
Seberg’s legacy (why she continues to resonate 45 years after her death). Such chapters might explore contemporary parallels with any of the aforementioned topics, e.g., a renewed interest in Black liberation movements given BLM activism, “conspiracy theories” as they affect Hollywood stars, current actresses who play upon Seberg’s cinematic resonance, etc. 

Please submit a 500-word abstract with a brief bio to both Alisia Chase (achase@brockport.edu) and Richard Ness (rr-ness@wiu.edu) by the date below. 


Alisia Chase