In the opening pages of Sherman Alexie's Reservation Blues (1995), Spokane Indian storyteller Thomas Builds-the-Fire comes into ownership of legendary African American bluesman Robert Johnson's guitar, a magical object that both furthers his band's musical aptitude and reopens the scars of historical memory. In Gish Jen's Mona in the Promised Land (1996), her titular Chinese-American protagonist, newly-relocated to an affluent New York suburb, converts to Judaism, arguing to her mother, "we are a minority, like it or not, and if you want to know how to be a minority, there's nobody better at it than the Jews."
Some of the most prominent controversies in literature today have focused on the issue of majority appropriation of minority cultures. In 2015, for example, Alexie himself, as guest editor of Best American Poetry, unwittingly included a poem written by a white writer under a Chinese pseudonym--and defended its continued inclusion once the subterfuge was revealed. More recently, memoirist Yassmin Abdel-Magied scathingly repudiated novelist Lionel Shriver's "Fiction and Identity Politics" address at the 2016 Brisbane Writers Festival, which defended cultural appropriation as part of the work of fiction. Literature like Reservation Blues or Mona in the Promised Land, however, introduces a different conversation about inter-ethnicity. This conversation may gesture towards horizontal relations, attempt to create inter-ethnic coalitions, reveal new contours to inter-ethnic conflict, or raise questions about the investigation and understanding of literary histories beyond the juxtaposition of white and non-white.
This special issue of the Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association (JMMLA) invites submissions that engage the politics, practices, representations, and meanings of inter-ethnicity, including new parameters for literary studies that arise from inter-ethnic literary histories.
Submissions are due March 1, 2017 to guest editor Emily Lutenski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Essays should be around 8,000 words and should follow the most recent MLA Style Manual for internal citation and Works Cited. Please direct your queries and submit your essays electronically to email@example.com.