Representing African American Adolescence (2014 MLA Special Session Proposal)

full name / name of organization: 
Jennifer Griffiths/New York Institute of Technology
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This panel seeks papers that address the literary representation of African American adolescence, particularly from the perspective of Black youth narrators, in the post-Civil Rights period. Possible texts include June Jordan's His Own Where, Colson Whitehead's Sag Harbor, Alice Childress's Hero Ain't Nothing but a Sandwich, and Sapphire's The Kid. Proposed papers can address experimental strategies in African American literature intended to capture and convey the complex experience of this specific generation's young people. How do the literary and cultural possibilities of the period allow for a more honest, multilayered, and forthright depiction of adolescent subjectivity and the negotiation of racialization? What do these literary texts offer us when we consider the transitional post-civil rights period through the lens of a transitional stage in individual development? Please send 300-word abstracts and C.V. to Jennifer Griffiths at by March 15, 2013. Note: all presenters included in the proposal must be MLA members by April 1, 2013.