CFP: Claude McKay, MLA 2007 (3/5/07; MLA '07)

full name / name of organization: 
Gary Holcomb
contact email: 

Claude McKay, Postnationalist Critique and Critical Contradiction:
A Special Session for MLA 2007

Twenty years after the arrival of Wayne Cooper’s remarkable biography, Claude McKay, Rebel Sojourner of the Harlem Renaissance, the writings of McKay have generated an impressive critical yield. Cooper’s scholarship recovered a writer who, though valued as an early advocate of black nationalism, was still by the late 1980s an obscure, contradictory figure. Now, critics working on Harlem Renaissance, Négritude, Caribbean, transnationalist, and African Diaspora writers identify the expatriate Jamaican author as crucial. Correspondingly, scholars researching radical and progressive intellectual workers recognize the Black Marxist as vital to the recovery of Old Left history. And those writing about gay literary artists of the interwar period distinguish McKay as an essential figure in black queer genealogies. The arrival of the 2004 Complete Poems (University of Illinois Press), edited by William Maxwell, has considerably expanded an awareness of this many-sided autho!
 r for a variety of reading communities. Taken in total, McKay’s black radical critique of nationalism as the modern tribal manifestation of racism and imperialism may be viewed as comparable in significance to the intellectual force of C.L.R. James’s black Trotskyist cultural work and the comprehensive vision of Amiri Baraka’s Black Arts and Third-World Marxist literary labor. Although much valuable work has been done on him, however, and indeed in part due to such a wealth of worthy scholarship, McKay remains a critically contradictory figure: a Harlem Renaissance writer who remained dubious about the renaissance as a unified literary movement, a radical black nationalist who was simultaneously a revolutionary internationalist.

This special session for the Modern Language Association Annual Convention, Chicago, December 27-30, 2007, is concerned with addressing McKay’s range of literary, political, and private locations, the phases and foci of Claude McKay’s restless life and literary labor. Presentations on any aspect of McKay and McKay studies are welcome. Ultimately, one aim of this meeting is to discuss the creation of a Claude McKay Society.

Though earlier communication is strongly encouraged, contact by March 5, 2007, preferably by email:

Gary Holcomb:

Gary Holcomb
Associate Professor of English
Department of English, CB 4019
Emporia State University
1200 Commercial
Emporia, KS 66801-5087

(620) 341-5557

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Received on Tue Nov 28 2006 - 17:55:47 EST