CFP: The African American Literary Canon (3/31/06; MMLA, 11/9/06-11/12/06)

full name / name of organization: 
chris bell
contact email: 

Call for Papers
African American Literature Permanent Session
Midwest Modern Language Association Convention
Chicago, Illinois
November 9-12, 2006

The African American Literary Canon:
Rationale and Function, Pros and Cons

In ways not unlike that of the mainstream literary
canon, the African American literary canon has become
a force to be reckoned with in African American
literary production and reception. While this canon
is noteworthy for the individuals and works it
includes, it is equally problematic for the
individuals and works left out of it. As critics, we
should remain attuned to how this canon operates in
order to understand how the privileging of voices
occurs as well as our response(s) to that privileging.
This panel seeks to address canonicity as it relates
to the production and reception of literature by
African Americans. Papers and presentations might
examine (the list is suggestive, not exhaustive):

*Which works and authors constitute the African
American literary canon and why?

*What is the decision-making process insofar as the
formation of the African American literary canon? Who
decides inclusion and exclusion and how permanent is
that decision? What are the standards of the canon
and who's (been) in charge of setting and upholding

*How are the literary politics at play in the
mainstream literary canon reflected in the African
American literary canon? Where are the spaces of

*While many might have familiarity with, for instance,
the Pulitzer Prize-winning _The Known World_, what
about those "unknown worlds" that have been written
about; what do they add to an understanding of African
American phenomenology and what is lost by virtue of
their remaining unknown?

*Was DuBois's notion of the "Talented Tenth" a
precursor to the African American literary canon or
was it adhering to a prescribed/proscribed dictate?
Was the "Talented Tenth" a codephrase for "the ten
best qualified individuals"?

*How do issues of bi-raciality and multi-raciality
inflect/affect the African American literary canon?

*How are gender, class, disability, and/or sexual
orientation negotiated and represented – or not – in
the African American literary canon?

Send abstracts, full-length papers, ideas and/or
queries by 31 March 2006 to (e-submissions preferred):

Chris Bell
PhD Student
Nottingham Trent University
College of Communication, Culture and Education
Clifton Campus, Clifton Lane
NG11 8NS
United Kingdom

Note: In order to present at the MMLA Convention,
participants must remit organization membership and
conference dues to the organization by June 1, 2006.
Full details about this painless process are available
at the MMLA website:

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Received on Wed Nov 16 2005 - 10:27:14 EST