CFP: Perspectives on African American Literature (7/31/04; collection)

full name / name of organization: 
Harry Olufunwa
contact email: 

After some three centuries of recognised existence, the time is ripe to take a comprehensive look at the nature of African American literature. From being one aspect of the residual tradition of enslaved Africans to the distinguished corpus of literary works that are available today, it can be said that the literature has come a long way from its humble origins. Barriers peculiar to African Americans, especially racial prejudice, have been largely overcome, and a literary tradition worthy of its greatest exponents has come into being. What has been the driving force of this literature? What are the themes and motifs that shape it? Can it be described as a tributary of "mainstream" American literature, or are its features so distinct as to make it more autonomous? Given America's increasingly multicultural outlook, how "black" is African American literature? These questions, often asked separately, need to be examined within the twin perspectives of continuity and change.

            We are looking for contributions to a volume which would incorporate a truly international assessment of the place of African American literature within the various contexts that make it up. We invite scholarly contributions which address core issues that have shaped or are shaping African American writing, and in pursuance of this, the proposed book will concentrate on several areas of interest. They include:

1. Double Consciousness as the Defining Paradigm of African American Literature

The ways in which the notion of double consciousness have been transmuted into various forms over time and its continuing relevance in the contemporary era. Essays which utilize the concept as a framework for analyzing the internal and external dynamics of the black experience in the light of newer views on race relations are particularly welcome.

2. Literature and Politics

The intersection between literature and politics in a peculiarly African American setting. Contributions should clearly delineate the interactions between literature and the politics of governance, the politics of social relations, etc., and what they say for the development of variegated American society as dramatised in specific literary works.

3. Ethnicity in a Multicultural Context

Issues of ethnicity within a multicultural setting, and the ways in which cultural amalgamation and cultural relativism have been portrayed and reformulated. Papers exploring the ways in which multiculturalism has reshaped American society in terms of the majority/minority dichotomy would illuminate significant aspects of this book.

4. Literary Movements and the Shaping of African American Literature

The manner in which specific literary movements and trends shaped and were shaped by the literature. Essays in this section could address the impact of trends like Marxism, the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Power movement and Feminism.

5. The International Reception of African American Literature

The international reactions to African American literature and the way in which they helped determine attitudes, styles and concerns. Papers dealing with this sub-theme could look at the way in which international audiences have shaped the literature.

6. Non-Fictional Writing and the Development of African American Literature

The ways in which non-fictional forms such as autobiography, speeches and sermons have explored the black experience and/or shaped the pattern of African American literature. Essays which demonstrate the relevance of non-fictional forms in the articulation of contemporary African American experience would be appropriate to the focus of this book.

7. Music and African American Literature

The impact of music on theme and form. Contributions might also look at the ways in which the thematic and formal properties of music are used in literature, as well as the development of literary forms like performance poetry that blur the distinctions between the two forms.

8. Renegotiations of History in African American Literature

African American literature as a renegotiation of history. Essays which show how African American writers are examining and re-examining slavery and other aspects of the African American past in complex and interesting ways would help to enhance the argument of this book.

9. Concepts of Diaspora

The issues of Diaspora, particularly the way in which dispersal, amassment, belonging and exclusion are implicated in African American literature. The ways in which these issues have changed in response to changes within the African American community would be an important contribution to the exploration of African American experience in literature.

10. Theories of African American Literature

The position of theory as the foundation and bulwark of the literary tradition. Essays exploring this issue and the persistent question of the appropriateness of African American literature as category or subset would be important contributions to this critical area of contemporary discourse.

Manuscripts should be about 6,000 words in length (including notes), typed in 12-point Times New Roman and follow the MLA system (fourth edition, 1995) of referencing. The deadline for consideration of all contributions is July 31, 2004. Each paper should be accompanied by an abstract of about 200 words. Please, submit manuscripts electronically to Electronic copies should be accompanied by two hardcopies which should be addressed to Professor Theo Vincent, Department of English, University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos State, Nigeria, to reach him no later than July 31, 2004.

Professor Theo Vincent, Department of English, University of Lagos

Dr. Harry Olufunwa, Department of English, University of Lagos

Dr. Patrick Oloko, Department of English, University of Lagos


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Received on Thu Apr 08 2004 - 19:08:49 EDT