CFP: [Cultural-Historical] Proposed Book Volume: Imagining the Black Female Body: Text and Contexts in Literature and Culture

full name / name of organization: 
Dr. Carol E. Henderson
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Call for Papers: Imagining the Black Female Body:
Text and Contexts in Literature and Culture

       Hortense Spillers said it best when she proclaimed:
Let’s face it. I am a marked woman, but not everybody knows my
name. ‘Peaches,’ and ‘Brown Sugar,’ ‘Sapphire’ and ‘Earth
Mother,’ ‘Aunty,’ ‘Granny,’….or ‘Black Woman at the Podium.’ I describe a
locus of confounded identities, a meeting ground of investments and
privations in the national treasury of rhetorical wealth. My country
needs me, and if I were not here, I would have to be invented.
Spillers’ posturing points to the complex and delicate challenges black
women encounter in the minefield of mental, spiritual, and
cultural “codings” that, as Spillers stresses, create markers of identity
so loaded with mythical prepossession that there is “no easy way for the
agents buried beneath to come clean.”
        But what is it about black women’s identity that makes them
marked women? What is it about their presenceâ€"their essenceâ€"that makes
them a threat in some social circles? Much of this uneasiness can be
traced to the tension that exists between the real and imagined
properties of black womanhood that circulate in America’s Grammar book
(borrowing from Hortense Spillers). This book, a virtual roadmap of the
history that has created and sustained the false imaginings of a culture
bent on promoting whiteness and its privileges, distorts the ideal of
black womanhood.
        What this volume proposes to do is explore the
various “imaginings” of the black female body in print and visual
culture, sports, America’s iconic landscape (i.e. the mammy figure and
the video vixen), politics, and law. Contributors can also write on
literature, science, music, photography, or the fashion industry. Papers
should discuss not only how this black female body is framed, but also
how black women (and their allies) have sought to write/rite themselves
back into these social discourses on their terms. It is my hope that
this volume will create a dialogue with other outstanding volumes on the
black female body.

If you are interested in being a part of this book, please forward to me
an abstract by January 15, 2008. Entire papers will be due by September
1, 2008. You can send your abstract via email to Or you
may send your abstract by landmail to:

Dr. Carol E. Henderson
Associate Professor of English and Black American Studies
212 Memorial Hall
University of Delaware
Newark, DE 19716.

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Received on Mon Oct 15 2007 - 20:34:53 EDT