for colored girls and Beyond: New Visions of Ntozake Shange

deadline for submissions: 
May 21, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Christopher Allen Varlack, Langston Hughes Society

for colored girls and Beyond: New Visions of Ntozake Shange 

SAMLA 91 | Theme: Languages—Power, Identity, Relationships
November 15-17, 2019 at the Westin Peachtree Plaza in Atlanta, Georgia 

In honor of her life and legacy, the Langston Hughes Society, in addition to our panel, “’The Task of the Negro Writer as an Artist’: Language as Vehicle of Power and Identity Construction in the Work of Langston Hughes and His Contemporaries,” will also be sponsoring a panel on Ntozake Shange at the 2019 South Atlantic Modern Language Association Conference that we hope will elicit strong papers that participants will consider expanding for publication in a future special issue of the Langston Hughes Review.

“Along with Jayne Cortez, Toni Cade Bambara, and others,” writes Farah Jasmine Griffin, “Shange introduced black women into literature who were creative, multilingual, bohemian, literate, hip to avant-garde jazz and Latin music, and political. These were women whose work emerged from the encounter of the Black Arts Movement with feminism.” As such, Shange forged a complex feminism that embraced the contradictions of black life and de/constructed trauma, while using all of this to promote activism and happiness in her stories. As a poet, playwright, novelist, actor, and dancer, she was one of the most influential black feminists of her generation. For instance, in her book When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost, the hip hop feminist Joan Morgan writes, “For my mother and black women like her, Shange’s play gave their experiences a legitimacy and a voice it would take me years to comprehend.” What is Shange’s legacy for contemporary black women artists and scholars? We seek contributions that broadly explore the following entre points of engagement of Shange’s archive and repertoire:

  • How does dancing express black women’s agency in Shange’s writings? What is the significance of dance in her work?
  • How have stage and/or film adaptations of Shange’s work reimagined or expanded our understanding of Shange as poet and/or playwright?
  • How do Beyonce’s dancing, visual albums, videos, and/or film Lemonade elaborate on Shange’s premise in for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf?
  • How does queer theory illuminate the sexual politics in Shange’s writings and/or kinesthesia?
  • How do the works of critically acclaimed playwrights such as Suzan-Lori Parks, Lynn Nottage, and Dominique Morisseau build upon and/or contrast with the aesthetic and cultural politics of Shange?
  • How are Shange’s poetry, plays, novels and/or essays interconnected with the legacy of Langston Hughes?
  • In what ways are Shange’s writings shaped by her experiences in St. Louis during Jim Crow?
  • In her later years, Shange suffered strokes and other physical ailments that prevented her from writing for several years. How would methodologies in disabilities studies facilitate our understanding of how her mobility shifts in the twilight of her life impacted her writing and performance that reveal systemic ableism?

Please send proposals of no more than five hundred words (for a fifteen to twenty-minute paper) to Dr. Christopher Varlack, President ( and Dr. Richard Hancuff, Secretary ( no later than May 21, 2019, with a response expected no later than May 26, 2019. Note that in addition to paying the membership and registration fees for SAMLA, presenters must also be members of the Langston Hughes Society by the time of the conference in order to present. Please indicate any audio-visual needs (if essential) in your E-mail. For more information on the Langston Hughes Society and our ongoing work, please visit our website at

Note also that expanded versions of the papers that are presented at SAMLA will be considered for publication in the special issue of the Langston Hughes Review. Articles should be between 4500 and 6000 words, excluding endnotes and references. Please address questions to the LHR Editor, Tony Bolden, at The deadline for submissions for this special issue is January 15, 2020.