Call for Papers

Performing Propriety and Policing Behavior on Television Talk Shows


Proposed Panel for the Annual Meeting of the
American Studies Association
Detroit, Michigan
11-14 October 2000

This panel will examine the tension between propriety and excess on
television talk shows. A genre often charged with obscene, tasteless
excess, talk shows, ironically, chastise unseemly guests who exceed the
boundaries of good taste, staging scenes that normalize decorous public
behavior; curtail physical, sartorial, sexual, or recreational
immoderation; reject liminality; and impose publically suitable racial,
sexual, and class boundaries.

Papers might address tactics that induce gender-appropriate behavior in
women and girls (makeovers, confessions, pageants, boot camp); the
spectacle of transexual, transgendered, or intersexual guests; "indecent"
sexualities or fantasies; gay, lesbian, and/or bisexual love triangles;
generic conventions that impose or hamper decorum (expert opinions, staged
apologies, humiliating surprise guests, body guards); studio and viewing
audience participation; morally questionable or morally superior hosts;
racialization and inappropriate language(s); unruly animals; "freaks";
inappropriate social and class mobility; broadcasting practices and

Papers on talk show offshoots (Forgive and Forget, Love Connection,
Change of Heart
, etc.) are welcome. Discussions may consider network,
cable, cable-access, or local public television in Mexico, Canada, the
Caribbean, or US. Multimedia and online formats encouraged. Submissions
are invited from all disciplines.

Please send a 500-word abstract and 1-2 page cv to Nancy San Martin at by January 10, 2000. To facilitate submission of
the panel proposal, please indicate audio-visual needs. No attachments
please. Electronic submissions only.

Please note that all participants must register for the annual meeting of
the American Studies Association and be members of the ASA or one of its
international or regional US affiliates.

Nancy San Martin
History of Consciousness
University of California, Santa Cruz