Discourses of Truth in Harlem Renaissance Art and Literature

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
NeMLA (Northeast Modern Language Association)
contact email: 

Call for papers for a panel titled "Discourses of Truth in Harlem Renaissance Art and Literature" at the 2019 NeMLA Conference in Washington, DC

Chair: John Hadlock, Duquesne University (hadlockj@duq.edu)

The recent publication of Zora Neale Hurston’s Barracoon, written at the height of the Harlem Renaissance in the late 1920s and early 1930s, invites new considerations of the place of discourses aimed at documenting social truth in this important era of Black art and thought. How did the development of such fields as sociology, anthropology, and ethnography influence, shape, or otherwise affect the artists of the Harlem Renaissance? What place did various literary nonfiction genres—the personal essay, memoir, travel narrative, auto/biography, journalism, etc.—have in the evolution of Black culture in America in the early part of the twentieth century? How did discourses of truth shape fiction and poetry produced by Harlem Renaissance artists? In what ways did Harlem Renaissance writing and art probe, investigate, and distort the line between fiction and fact? This panel invites scholars to consider these questions and others regarding the construction of truth in the era of the Harlem Renaissance.


Possible topics for papers include:

- The influence of social sciences on the writers, thinkers, and artists of the Harlem Renaissance

- Political and social activism in Harlem Renaissance art and literature

- Innovations in literary nonfiction during the Renaissance

- Harlem Renaissance artists’ writings on, use of, or rejection of realism and mimesis; Harlem Renaissance theories of representation

- Documentary techniques in Harlem Renaissance art and literature (e.g. lynching photography in The Crisis)

- Black journalism and periodical publication during the Harlem Renaissance

- Uses of historical people, places, and events in Harlem Renaissance art and literature; Black historiography of the early 20th century

- The influence of the slave narrative, political pamphlet, protest poem, and other nineteenth-century genres on the artists of the Harlem Renaissance


This panel will convene at the 2019 NeMLA Conference in Washington, D.C., which will take place from March 21-24, 2019 at the Gaylord National Resort Center.

The deadline for abstract submissions is September 30th, 2018. Please note that all abstracts must be submitted at the NeMLA CFP website: https://www.cfplist.com/nemla. For more information about formatting and submitting abstracts, please visit https://www.buffalo.edu/nemla/convention/callforpapers/submit.html. Further queries about the panel can be sent to John Hadlock at hadlockj@duq.edu.