CFP: [Cultural-Historical] The Black Female Body in Literature and Culture

full name / name of organization: 
Dr. Carol E. Henderson
contact email: 

Call for Papers: Imagining the black female body:
Text and Contexts in literature and culture

Only the BLACK WOMAN can say “when and where I enter, in the quiet,
undisputed dignity of my womanhood, without violence and without suing or
special patronage, then and there the whole…race enters with me.”
--Anna Julia Cooper, 1892

Hortense Spillers said it best when she proclaimed:
Let’s face it. I am a marked woman, but not everybody knows my
name. ‘Peaches,’ and ‘Brown Sugar,’ ‘Sapphire’ and ‘Earth
Mother,’ ‘Aunty,’ ‘Granny,’….or ‘Black Woman at the Podium.’ I describe a
locus of confounded identities, a meeting ground of investments and
privations in the national treasury of rhetorical wealth. My country
needs me, and if I were not here, I would have to be invented.
Spillers’ posturing points to the complex and delicate challenges black
women encounter in the minefield of mental, spiritual, and
cultural “codings” that, as Spillers stresses, create markers of identity
so loaded with mythical prepossession that there is “no easy way for the
agents buried beneath to come clean.”
        But what is it about black women’s identity that makes them marked
women? What is it about their presenceâ€"their essenceâ€"that makes them a
threat in some social circles? Much of this uneasiness can be traced to
the tension that exists between the real and imagined properties of black
womanhood that circulate in America’s Grammar book (borrowing from
Hortense Spillers). This book, a virtual roadmap of the history that has
created and sustained the false imaginings of a culture bent on promoting
whiteness and its privileges, distorts the ideal of black womanhood.
        What this volume proposes to do is explore the
various “imaginings” of the black female body in print and visual culture,
sports, America’s iconic landscape (i.e. the mammy figure and the video
vixen), politics, and law. Contributors can also write on literature,
science, music, photography, or the fashion industry. Papers should
discuss not only how this black female body is framed, but also how black
women (and their allies) have sought to write/rite themselves back into
these social discourses on their terms. It is my hope that this volume
will create a dialogue with other outstanding volumes on the black female

If you are interested in being a part of this book, please forward to me
an abstract by January 15, 2008. Entire papers will be due by September
1, 2008. You can send your abstract via email to Or you
may send your abstract by landmail to:

Dr. Carol E. Henderson
Associate Professor of English and Black American Studies
212 Memorial Hall
University of Delaware
Newark, DE 19716.

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Received on Mon Nov 26 2007 - 15:50:25 EST