Re-Imagining Freedom (MLA 2015, Jan. 8-11)

full name / name of organization: 
Diana Louis, Michael McGee

African American writers have long grappled with the possibilities and limitations of freedom in the United States. In Forging Freedom, Amrita Chakrabarti Myers points out the ways in which ideas of freedom, citizenship, and rights are "always in flux and are definitively fluid" such that the freedom proffered African Americans--most notably the dissolution of slavery and legal recognition as citizen--was never an end in and of itself. Breaking down the familiar binary between slavery/bondage and freedom, Myers challenges us to think again about how African Americans "craft a freedom of their own imagining as opposed to accepting the limiting confines of a freedom shaped for them." This panel welcomes papers that consider the ways in which African American writers in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries re-imagine the meaning of freedom, particularly in ways that are not dependent on the release from enslavement/bondage or the acquisition of rights. Please send an abstract of 250 words or less to Diana Louis ( and Michael McGee ( by 22 March 2014.