Not One Word From the Sold: Critical Approaches to Zora Neale Hurston's Barracoon

deadline for submissions: 
May 23, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
South Atlantic Modern Language Association
contact email: 

SAMLA's 91st Annual Convention will be held in Atlanta, Georgia, November 8-10. The conference theme is "Languages: Power, Identity, Relationships." I am soliciting papers for a panel on Zora Neale Hurston's most recent publication, Barracoon.

Originally named Kossola, Cudjo Lewis was illegally brought to America on the last slave ship, the Clotilda. Hurston completed the manuscript about his life story in 1931, but it was not published until 2018 as Barracoon, The Story of the Last Black Cargo. Critics praised this text as evidence of Hurston’s anthropological skills, yet it also serves as a rejoinder to the skewed white-washed history of slavery in the popular imagination.

This panel solicits papers on this groundbreaking text. Kossola’s story is not only important because his is the sole and last voice from the Middle Passage, but he also offers a new and different take on history. Given the conservative and monolithic views of enslavement highlighted in history books, Kossola’s narrative offers a new and provocative take on enslavement, freedom and surviving the Middle Passage.

Individual papers can focus on any aspect of the book, including but not limited to, its publication history, how it fits within Hurston’s oeuvre and/or African American Literature, pedagogical approaches to the text, and close readings/theoretical approaches to the work.

Since the conference theme is “Languages: Power, Identity, Relationships,” papers that demonstrate the ways in which Kossola’s language helps to expand narratives of slavery, Africa, literature, and/or early Black settlement are especially welcome. Please submit a 250-word abstract, with a short biography and A/V requirements, to Dr. Donavan L. Ramon at by May 24 2019, with "Barracoon" in the subject line. For further information on the conference, go to


Dr. Donavan L. Ramon, is an Assistant Professor of Liberal Studies at Kentucky State University. A specialist in African American Literature, he is completing a book on racial passing and psychoanalysis. His work has appeared in Philip Roth Studies and the College Language Association Journal. The South Atlantic Review will publish his edited essay collection on Nella Larsen's Passing in August 2019.