CFP: [Postcolonial] Critical Negotiations in Black British Literature & the Arts (UK) (9/15/07; 3/13/08-3/14/08)

full name / name of organization: 
Mark Stein
contact email: 

AND THE ARTS (9/15/07; 3/13/08-3/14/08)

This conference focuses upon local, international and transnational
engagements with Black British literature and the arts ­ in relation to its
production, reception and cultural position. Through the multiple
disciplines of the arts, it creates a meeting point for prominent and
emerging scholars, writers and practitioners in order to explore the impact
of this field, both at home and abroad. The context is one of critical
investigation and celebration; a journey along diasporic and aesthetic routes.

- Andrea Levy interviewed by Blake Morrison
- Kwame Kwei-Armah in conversation with Britain’s key Black directors
- Malorie Blackman leading a forum on young people’s writing and writing
for young people with Deptford Secondary School pupils
- Malika Booker performing her acclaimed one-woman show Unplanned

- A History of Black Theatre in Britain (Victoria and Albert Museum)
- Man-Royal, Whickers and Zami's: New work by Ajamu

Hilary Carty Joan Anim-Addo
Simon Gikandi R. Victoria Arana
Gabriele Griffin Neil Astley
Lyn Innes Les Back
Mark McWatt Margaret Busby
Sukhdev Sandhu Bénédicte Ledent
                                              Valerie Mason-John
                                              Susheila Nasta
                                              Nii Parkes
                                              Kadija Sesay

Apples ‘n’ Snakes Black Arts Alliance
MakeBelieveArts Peepal Tree Press

Deirdre Osborne (Goldsmiths, University of London)
Mark Stein (University of Muenster, Germany)
Godfrey Brandt (Birkbeck, University of London)

We invite papers across a broad spectrum of interests: drama, poetry,
prose, performance, film, visual arts, curating, arts management and
history. Areas of discussion might connect with the following ideas:

(i) At home and abroad ­ sights and sites of reception
Critical engagements with Black British literature and the arts differ
according to political and geographical contexts. Many artists and writers
themselves embrace diasporic and transnational identities and aesthetics.
What are the consequences of this multiple reception and affiliation? How
is an indigenous notion of Black British culture affected? Which critical
vocabularies are employed, which critical agendas enacted when discussing
Black British cultural production? On whose terms is Black British cultural
production created, distributed and evaluated?

(ii) Securing credentials
Chris Ofili has been accused of “playing to the audience” (and to the
judges) thereby securing his credentials as a “black artist”. In contrast,
some writers and practitioners steer clear of the term and face the charge
of effacing their black heritage as they encounter mainstream and
commercial success. What is the relationship between mainstream acceptance
and opportunities for producing radical black-centred work?

(iii) Historicising the field
Black writers have been published in Britain over the past three centuries
­ although there is no extant evidence of this in drama before the
twentieth century. What are the lines of descent and tradition that connect
writers and performers across time and place? What were the formative
conditions of production and reception for early black writers and artists
in Britain? What part do contemporary historical novels, poetry, visual
arts, or drama play in retrieving and reviving past times, to recirculate
and celebrate marginalised voices?

(iv) Publishing
Black presses have played a vital role in getting black writers into print.
Small presses such as New Beacon Books, Karnak House, Bogle L’Overture,
Peepal Tree, Mango and X-Press (to name a few) have devoted themselves to
fostering black people’s writing. Wasafiri, Calabash, SABLElitmag and Third
Text have also played a crucial part in providing a platform for writers,
securing audiences and engaging with new work. Other non-specialist presses
too, such as Sheba Feminist Press, Virago, Methuen and Nick Hern Books have
been instrumental in publishing poetry, novels and plays by black writers.
How is sustainability a factor today and what interventions are being made
in the light of Danuta Keane’s Arts Council-funded reports into publishing
In Full Colour and Free Verse?

(v) Celebrate or segregate ­ the problematics of a Black British canon?
When Marsha Hunt instituted the SAGA Prize for Black British-born writers
in 1995, this registered both indigenous black people’s literary output and
the fact that it was not yet a customary inclusion in the national cultural
landscape. If the canon is key to artistic longevity and revival of work,
what part does canonisation play for Black British literature and the arts?

(vi) Arts bodies, cultural policy and education
Challenges to publicly-funded educational and arts bodies raise questions
about the criteria for and beneficiaries of subsidy. Can policy initiatives
and educational programmes reshape the cultural industries? What kinds of
pedagogical approaches have been developed in disseminating and teaching
Black British literature and the arts both inside and beyond the UK? How do
they impact upon experiences of multiculturalism and Black artistic
production, here and elsewhere, and how do they shape understandings of
Black British culture?

(vii) Sexual/textual practices
Articulations of gay, lesbian and trans-gender experiences have regularly
side-lined the perspectives of black people. Black sexual-gender politics
have also contended with feminism’s inadequacies. How are socio-sexual
categories negotiated and represented across forms, disciplines and sites
of writing and performance? Who are the boundary breakers? Which aesthetic
principles are at work?

(viii) Carnival and Spectacle
The Notting Hill Carnival has developed from a small, community-based
event, (celebrating still-retained links to Caribbean culture), into a key
feature on the London calendar, showcasing the presence of the Caribbean
diaspora. Over recent decades, establishment anxieties regarding public
control, media representations and political agendas of inclusion and
multiculturalism have exacted an increasingly distorting process upon the
Carnival’s future and integrity. Where is Carnival placed within
contemporary British culture? Papers and visual materials are welcomed
which cover any aspect of Carnival anywhere in the UK and its history up to

First Call for Papers
Please send your abstract (250 words) and a short bio to:
DEADLINE: 9/15/07

Prof Dr Mark Stein - Chair of English and Postcolonial Studies -
Westfaelische Wilhelms-Universitaet Muenster - Germany - m.stein _AT_ -

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Received on Wed Aug 01 2007 - 08:53:03 EDT