[UPDATE] NEMLA 2012: Infighting and Rival Texts in 20th Cent. African-American Literature

full name / name of organization: 

From early on in the Harlem Renaissance, many black writers knew for a fact that there was a New Negro, but most differed on the nuances when creating such a character from text. African-American Literature in the early 20th century was marked not only by the spirit of cooperation and the feeling of community, but also by infighting and fevered debate over what constituted a proper direction for the movement(s). This panel seeks to reignite discussion over the ideas and histories of these debates between black writers during the formative and fluid period of 1920-1960. Divisive texts will be highlighted and discussed. By evaluating not only the texts, but also the historical reception of the opposing ideas, we may track how the representations of competing ideologies have been altered or filtered over the ensuing years. Papers should not merely chose sides or say who was ultimately correct or incorrect in such debates, but should allow for some measured or reasonable analysis of the competing arguments through synchronic and/or diachronic lenses. Some topics, debates, and divisive texts include, but are not limited to:

W.E.B. DuBois and Claude McKay
W.E.B. DuBois and Marcus Garvey
James Baldwin and Richard Wright ('Everybody's Protest Novel')
Carl Van Vechten's "Nigger Heaven"
Countee Cullen and Langston Hughes
Claude McKay's "Home to Harlem" or "Banjo"
Eldridge Cleaver and James Baldwin
Richard Wright and Zora Neale Hurston

The purpose of such a panel is to provoke a reappraisal of plurality during this period. Our interest is in exhibiting and discussing this widely varied canon prior to its representation as being homogenized in later eras. Further, we are seeking deeper understanding about the differences in opinion that have informed our broader opinions about African-American Literature in contemporary times.

300-word Abstracts may be sent to: Tim Griffiths, Brooklyn College, tim.griffiths84@gmail.com. Deadline is September 30th.