Paul Laurence Dunbar Society Panels at ALA 2014; May 22-25, 2014

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Paul Laurence Dunbar Society
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The Paul Laurence Dunbar Society will sponsor two sessions at the American Literature Association Conference in Washington, D.C. on May 22-25, 2013.

Session 1: Paul Laurence Dunbar's The Fanatics (1901)

Dunbar's The Fanatics is a historical novel set during the American Civil War; while noteworthy for subject matter, genre, and author, this novel is often dismissed out of hand for Dunbar's racist caricature of the one explicitly identified black character in the novel, Nigger Ed. However, Dunbar's explicit focus on the tensions between northern and southern whites becomes the implicit means to criticize the role race plays in the white national imagination, specifically in regards to the way whites use black bodies to maintain accepted modes of social control and/or preserve white belief in inherent biological difference.

This panel seeks papers engaging any facet of Dunbar's The Fanatics, including genre (the historical novel as it relates to realism, naturalism, romance, and/or regionalism), other authors or critics (comparing The Fanatics to Charles Chesnutt's historical novel, The Marrow of Traditions, or to William Dean Howells and his critical commentary on the historical novel), the novel's role in retelling American Civil War history, or even Dunbar's representational strategies for depicting Ed in the novel.

Session 2: African American Short Fiction in the 1890s

This panel is interested in the different ways African American authors from the 1890s like Charles Chesnutt, Pauline E. Hopkins, Alice Dunbar Nelson, Ruth D. Todd, Francis E. W. Harper, and Paul Laurence Dunbar reimagined or made use of the short story form. How was the short story imagined as a literary form that could serve the needs and interests of African Americans and/or African American authors? What was the form used to do, or how was it reimagined as a tool for expressing black social, political, aesthetic, or economic thought?

Proposals can compare authors, examine a single author, focus on a particular theme or trope in multiple authors or works, examine short fiction appearing in periodicals, and/or examine short fiction appearing in short story collections.

Please e-mail abstracts and a brief CV by January 15, 2014 to:
Thomas L. Morgan at