The Rise of the New Negro Woman: "Liminal Spaces, Hybrid Lives," and the Harlem Renaissance Experience

full name / name of organization: 
Christopher Allen Varlack, UMBC
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Traditionally, women writers of the Harlem Renaissance era from Nella Larsen to Jessie Redmon Fauset to Marita Bonner, among others, have been under-represented in criticism both past and present. The concept of the New Negro, after all, was gendered male, excluding the value role that women writers would play in not only challenging the pervasive color line but in calling increased attention to the depths of African-American experience that, as Zora Neale Hurston posits, white publishers would not print.

Reflecting on the conference theme for the Society for the Study of American Women Writers 2015 conference, "Liminal Spaces, Hybrid Lives," this panel asks how African-American women writers of the Harlem Renaissance negotiated their dual status as women and black in text. How did authors such as Larsen, Fauset, Hurston, and beyond challenge the limited roles of black women to overcome what many now recognize as a culturally subservient and second-class hybrid status? And how do these works provide new insight into the New Negro woman whose various forms of art and expression helped to resurrect the African-American voice too long silent or silenced?

This panel will therefore examine specially how black women writers challenged their perpetual marginalizing and alienation along racial and gender lines. This panel seeks to include authors of the Harlem Renaissance both well-known and under-represented in an attempt to expand the conversation of the era beyond what Miriam Thaggert terms, "the well worn Harlem Renaissance or New Negro paradigms."

Some possible topics might include:
- hybridity of multi-racial characters
- alternative psycho-social sites in Harlem Renaissance literature
- any other topic on fiction, non-fiction, letters, plays, and poetry written by African American women during the Harlem Renaissance

Please send 250-350 word proposals, a CV, and a short biographical statement to Christopher Allen Varlack at by January 15, 2015.