Duality and Duplicity in African-American Literature

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
Bruce Plourde/Northeast Modern Language Association
contact email: 

The idea that African-Americans are actual and full-fledged citizens of the United States is not a new one; the racism that prevents that idea to flourish is also not new.  Recent events, including the death of Freddie Carlos Gray, Jr. in Baltimore, have brought to the fore the question of whether or not the United States values its black citizens, and extends to them the same rights as it does to its non-black citizens.  The historical record has much to say on this point, but the literary record also is instructive in perceptions of race in the United States. 

This panel will explore the literary precedents to examine how tensions between citizenship and real-world status have formed the basis of works by American authors.  How do the literary works of the past offer insight into the ways in which race has shaped American culture?  How do those works inform us about racial constructions and deconstructions in our own time?  What is required in a work of literature to demonstrate that black lives matter? 

Please submit 200-300 word abstracts by September 30th.