The Renaissance Formerly Known as Harlem: Race and Diaspora in the Global City

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MMLA/Midwest Modern Language Association

This special session for MMLA 2014 (Detroit, Nov 13-16) seeks papers on the Renaissance formerly known as Harlem. Recent scholarly debates—including the recent special issue of Modernism/modernity on "The Harlem Renaissance and the New Modernist Studies" (20.3)—have suggested new terminology to define the New Negro movement in the United States during the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. From "New Negro" to "Black" Renaissance, these terms highlight alternative spheres of black cultural production. While it is necessary to move beyond the narrow geographic parameters of the "Harlem" Renaissance, it is also important to break open Harlem itself and to understand it as a globally inflected cityscape. This panel investigates New Negro modernism through an interrogation of the "Harlem" in "Harlem Renaissance."  How can we understand the New Negro movement through more global and national readings of this cityscape? Is Harlem itself more expansive than a simple zip code might suggest? What do global understandings of the city itself bring to our understanding of black modernism in America? To extend Brent Hayes Edwards's important work, we ask not only, what does the practice of diaspora look like in Harlem, but also, what does Harlem look like in the practice of diaspora? We welcome papers on literary texts, visual arts, and performance pieces. Interdisciplinary approaches are encouraged.

Please send a 250 word abstract and short (2-3 sentences) bio to and by May 30, 2014.