Call for abstracts: Cultural Studies↔Critical Methodologies

 Special Issue – Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol: Intersectional Analyses of Popular Culture (Re)presentations of the Election and Subsequent Coup Attempt

Special Issue Editors:
Erica B. Edwards, Wayne State University
Jennifer Esposito, Georgia State University

On January 6, 2021, much of the world watched in horror as Trump supporters, fueled by his continued false and divisive rhetoric, stormed the U.S. Capitol. Using guns, tear gas, pepper spray, flag poles, and even crutches, they utilized weapons to, in some instances, overpower Capitol police. In other cases, authorities seemed to welcome the insurrectionists into the capitol by moving barricades out of their way. For hours, Trump supporters desecrated the building and lawmakers’ offices while yelling that they would kill Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi. Trump released a video on Twitter in response, noting, falsely, that despite the election stolen from “us,” he wanted the violent mob to go home in peace. As members of this mob beat a Capitol police officer to death and lawmakers hid in terror, he added, “We love you. You’re very special.” Eventually, the National Guard and back up police from surrounding areas were utilized to disperse the crowd. Muriel Bowser, mayor of D.C., instituted a 6 pm curfew. Chillingly, the mob was let go with almost no arrests and with, instead, much dignity and concern for their lives. In fact, in one image, we saw members of the National Guard guiding a female insurrectionist gently down the stairs so that she wouldn’t trip.

Additionally, the crowd was not immediately dispersed upon curfew. The horrific images and videos of this violent insurrection (as well as what took place afterward) are still being released as the FBI and Capitol police investigate. However, from what we have seen on the news and social media, these insurrectionists attempted a coup against the U.S. government; and former President Trump emboldened and encouraged them to do so because he could not accept defeat in an election that was proven in courts of law to be fair and accurate.

As intersectional popular culture scholars, we are left with much to ponder. Trump’s unprecedented use of popular media outlets are at the epicenter of these actions and demonstrate why it is critically imperative to understand how popular culture has political ramifications. This special issue of Cultural Studies/Critical Methodologies (CS/CM) will allow scholars the space to interrogate how we make sense of what happened from an intersectional perspective. This special issue is guided by the following assumptions: 1. Popular culture is an educative site (Esposito & Love, 2008; Kellner, 1995); 2. We cannot study oppression without accounting for the multiple and simultaneous systems of domination at work (Collins, 2000); and; 3. Critiques of popular culture should be intersectional and address “multiple aspects of identity and their relationship to structural, disciplinary, cultural, and/or interpersonal relations of power” (Edwards & Esposito, 2020, p. 41). We encourage scholars from all disciplines to submit. Still, we are most interested in manuscripts that delve into power, privilege, and oppression as they play out in contemporary moments through popular culture texts. We are also interested in works that interrogate how popular culture influences multiple contexts and identity structures/systems. Manuscripts might address topics that include, but are not limited to:
• How Black Twitter discussed/represented the insurrection/coup attempt
• How the insurrectionists/violent mob were policed in juxtaposition to the treatment of Black Lives Matter protestors
• Analysis of memes developed in response to the election and/or coup
• How groups like Latinos for Trump complicate matters of analysis
• How working-class whiteness was used as a pawn and/or weapon in the 2016 & 2020 presidential elections
• The centrality of Black women’s political roles in the outcome of the 2020 election season
• How members of Gen Z, who were too young to vote, used social media to engage civically
• The ways that K-12 teachers and/or college professors handled the day after the coup attempt (or presidential elections of 2016 or 2020).
• How K-12 teachers utilize popular culture to teach about presidential politics
• How Q’anon conspiracies (and/or other Alt-right groups’ ideologies) mirror rhetoric from previous historical periods (e.g., slavery and/or reconstruction)
• How cultural artifacts from or pre-dating the Civil War were used during the coup attempt (e.g., the Confederate flag and other forms of cosplay)
• How white privilege was on display during the coup attempt
• Campaign advertisement analysis of key House and Senate run-off elections
• How candidates for the House and Senate used social media as a campaign tool
• How the deaths connected to the coup attempt have been represented in the media
• Understanding the “us” and the “we” Trump referred to in his Twitter video message on the day of the coup

If interested, please submit a 500-1,000 word abstract for a possible invitation to publish in the special issue. Abstracts are due on February 22, 2021.

Please send your abstract as a pdf attachment to

The publication timeline is as follows:
Abstracts due to editors on February 22, 2021
Response regarding abstract received by April 30, 2021
Manuscripts due to editors by August 1, 2021
External review feedback received by September 15, 2021
Final manuscript due to editors by October 15, 2021

Collins, P. H. (2000). Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment. New York: Routledge. 
Edwards, E. B. & Esposito, J. (2020). Intersectional analysis as a method to analyze popular culture: Clarity in the Matrix. New York: Routledge.
Esposito, J. & Love, B. (2008). More than a video hoe: Hip hop as a site of sex education about girls’ sexual desires. In D. Boyles (Ed.), The corporate assault on youth: Commercialism, exploitation, and the end of innocence (pp. 43-82). New York: Peter Lang.
Kellner, D. (1995). Media culture: Cultural studies, identity and politics between the modern and postmodern. New York: Routledge. 

View CFP (PDF)

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