NeMLA 2018: An Elegy for Michelle Cliff

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Camille Alexander / William Paterson University
contact email: 

On June 12, 2016, Jamaican author Michelle Cliff passed away quietly and to little public fanfare. Despite her many contributions to Caribbean literature, women’s studies, and feminist writings, her passing received only one article in the New York Times. In this article, she became a footnote to the life of her long-time companion, Adrianne Rich. For a writer and scholar of her magnitude, Cliff did not receive an elegy commensurate with the scope of her work. The avoidance of Cliff’s memory raises several questions. For example, was Cliff receiving a post-mortem censure for being a feminist and/or a lesbian? As the late Adrianne Rich’s partner, was Cliff only worthy of mention as an addendum to Rich’s life? Does the ambiguity of Cliff’s race and the difficulties with classifying her contribute to her marginalization as an author?

The goal of this panel is to recognize and remember Michelle Cliff’s contributions to Caribbean, feminist, postcolonial, Black/Africana, and LGBTQ literature and studies. In addition, this panel seeks to initiate what will hopefully be a continued discussion on the relevance of Cliff’s work on the Caribbean and how the microcosm of islands portrayed in her texts can shape discussions that are politically, socially, and culturally relevant. This panel welcomes submissions on papers addressing Michelle Cliff’s fictional and scholarly work that also work within the theme of elegy. Suggested topics include, but are not limited to

            *Feminist/womanist approaches to honouring Cliff

            *Requiem and Cliff’s ficto-biography

            *Cliff’s female characters and remembering herstory

            *Cliff’s “hidden” LGBTQ characters and Jamaican homophobia

            *Lamenting lost Jamaican national identity and the role of gender in Cliff

            *Remembering Cliff’s Caribbean, female challenge to the bildungsroman genre.

To submit an abstract, please go to the following link:

NeMLA Conference, April 12-18, 2018, Pittsburgh, PA, Omni William Penn Hotel