Submit a Manuscript to the Journal

Comparative American Studies An International Journal

For a Special Issue on

Unmasking America

Abstract deadline
30 April 2024

Manuscript deadline
31 December 2024

Cover image - Comparative American Studies An International Journal

Special Issue Editor(s)

Rachael McLennan, University of East Anglia, UK
[email protected]

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Unmasking America

During the Covid-19 pandemic, responses to the injunction to ‘wear a mask’ reflected tensions over attitudes towards individual freedoms, or lack of, in American culture. For some, masks limited the spread of the virus. They protected the individual and (or over?) others. For some, masks were ineffective medically, and / or an intolerable intrusion into individual rights. Wearing a mask might signify that an individual took the virus seriously and heeded the state (via medical advice, scientific expertise and laws); refusing to wear one might indicate the opposite. Paradoxically, but no less powerfully, for some mask wearing itself presented unexpected freedoms; from the pressure to engage in social norms, to smile for strangers. For others it was an unsettling obstacle to social interaction, to the work of reading other faces. Masks also became commodities, fashion items; they could express personality and convey messages the wearer wished, whether imprinted with a specific design as part of a wedding costume, a #BlackLivesMatter slogan, or the name of the wearer’s favourite television show.

During the pandemic, then, the mask performed as it has done in many other times, places and contexts – as a powerful and contested symbol relating to explorations of identity, disguise, performance, power and truth. This interdisciplinary special issue invites contributions which consider the role of the mask within and beyond America, in international and comparative contexts. Articles may consider masks as material object or metaphor, and as represented in any discipline. This special issue asks what is uncovered by exploring the mask and America.  In addition to using the discussion above as a prompt, you could consider the following:

  • masks and crime and / horror
  • masks and superheroes
  • masks in celebrity culture
  • masks in theatre
  • masks and the posthuman
  • masks and the wellness industry

Please send any initial inquiries and 300 word article proposals to Rachael McLennan: [email protected]. The deadline for proposals is 30 April 2024; the article deadline will be 31 December 2024.

Submission Instructions

Abstracts of proposed submissions should be emailed to Rachael McLennan ([email protected]). Articles should be submitted via the journal's online submission system.

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article