Special Issue, American Studies, Arts in the Black Press During the Age of Jim Crow

deadline for submissions: 
August 1, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Lucy Caplan and Kristen Turner
contact email: 

American Studies invites submissions for a special issue, to be published in Fall 2020, focused upon coverage of the arts in the black press between Reconstruction and the end of legalized Jim Crow segregation in the 1960s. African American magazines and newspapers flourished during this era, providing rich, varied reporting on the cultural events that mainstream press outlets distorted or ignored. Critics and reporters on the arts beat not only brought to light the creative output of black musicians, filmmakers, writers, and visual artists, but also investigated the role the arts played in the long struggle against oppression, as well as the economic and cultural impact of the arts on black communities and the United States as a whole. As the journalistic discourses that emerged in the black press make clear, the heterogeneous artistic scene of black America thrived during these years, even within an oppressive environment that constantly discounted and disrespected black lives. Arts coverage bolstered and amplified the messages that press outlets sought to convey via more straightforwardly political reporting, and productively complicates our understanding of what made these newspapers and magazines such powerful forums for intraracial conversation and organizing. The black press thus represents a uniquely significant archival resource that brings to light cultural practices otherwise absent from both public memory and scholarly research.


We welcome contributions on any appropriate topic from scholars working across all disciplines, including submissions that address the following questions: what roles did women play in the Jim Crow-era black press, and what were the politics of gender and sexuality within the medium? How does arts coverage in the black press inform or challenge our understanding of the politics of respectability and racial uplift ideology? How did the black press figure into transnational and diasporic networks of intellectual exchange? How did it interact with other types of African American and American print culture? How did it function as a site of racial formation, especially in conjunction with questions of class, gender, and sexuality? How have recent endeavors in the digital and public humanities expanded and transformed the scope of research into the black press?


The deadline for submissions is August 1, 2019. Articles should be sent to the guest editors as .doc or .docx attachments by email to artsblackpress@gmail.com. Submissions should be no more than 25 double-spaced pages in length, excluding endnotes and images. Citations should follow the Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition. We are also happy to consider colloquies about a single topic consisting of several short pieces by individual contributors; the convener of the colloquy should solicit and edit contributions before submitting the entire text of the colloquy. For more information on American Studies’ submission guidelines, please consult this page. Please address any other questions to Lucy Caplan or Kristen Turner at artsblackpress@gmail.com.