Amiri Baraka and the Black Arts Movement: Redefining Black Literary Aesthetic

full name / name of organization: 
2015 Annual Convention of Northeast Modern Language Association (NEMLA)
contact email: 
flassite@mc3.edu

The recent death of Amiri Baraka, the co-founder of the Black Arts Movement (BAM), offers a unique opportunity to assess his legacy, the movement, and the current direction of African American literature. As a poet, Baraka’s work embodied the role of the Black artist/activist as one who ‘re-evaluate[s] the western aesthetic...the social function of the artist…and develops a new Black aesthetic’ – ideals outlined in Larry Neal’s manifesto, ‘The Black Arts Movement.’ In addition, BAM birthed numerous artistic innovations, in particular a reemphasis on orality and the call and response tradition. Contemporary rap and spoken word poetry are the beneficiaries of BAM, yet both are frequently excluded and/or marginalized as part of the African American literary tradition. Similar to the poets and artists of the BAM era, contemporary writers, poets, and artists are reshaping, redefining, and reimaging a dynamic Black literary aesthetic – one more inclusive of the political, social, and cultural concerns of a new millennium. Using BAM as the milieu for this discussion, this panel seeks critical and creative papers that offer an interdisciplinary approach for accessing, redefining, and evaluating a Black literary aesthetic for the twenty-first century. In particular, the discussion will focus on the manner in which various contemporary cultural workers – visual arts, creative writers, musicians, and scholars – continue to shape and redefine a Black aesthetic. Possible topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

• Identity versus class politics
• Gender and sexuality
• Popular culture and the political/social aspects of contemporary African American literature
• Digital humanities as a tool for social critique
• Transnationalism
• Language/African American vernacular
• Post-soul aesthetic

Panelists are encouraged to consider contemporary, canonical, and non-canonical works in their presentation. Papers that use the Black Arts Movement and/or Amiri Baraka as a milieu are highly encouraged. Submit a 500-word abstract of your paper by September 20, 2014 via the NeMLA website (www.nemla.org). This year, NeMLA has implemented a user-based system to accept and track abstract submissions. In order to submit an abstract using the button for a CFP entry, you must sign up with NeMLA and log in. Using this new system, you can manage your personal information and review and update your abstract following submission.

cfp categories: 
african-american
american
cultural_studies_and_historical_approaches
ethnicity_and_national_identity
gender_studies_and_sexuality
interdisciplinary
poetry