Black Men, White Publishers (NeMLA Panel)

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
contact email: 

In November 2018, The New York Times published “Black Male Writers for Our Time,” an article that highlights some of the African-American male writers who have won prestigious awards in recent years. For instance, Gregory Pardlo won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2015, while Colson Whitehead won the National Book Award in 2016 and the Pulitzer in 2017. In 2018, Kendrick Lamar made history as the first rapper to win the Pulitzer Prize for music. Although they have been writing for generations, the literary establishment is now recognizing and rewarding Black male literature.

This panel seeks papers on contemporary Black male writers, especially given 1. The recent critical validation they have received and 2. The centennial of the Harlem Renaissance—another time of intense interest in Black writings with the help of White literary patrons.

Questions to consider include, but not limited to:

What specific types of Black literature do the National Book Award Committee and the Pulitzer Prize Committee often reward?

What are some formal, thematic, and aesthetic choices that define Black male writers? Where do they differ?

How can we assess this attention to Black male writing—a long term revolution or an ephemeral moment in response to the presidency of Barack Obama?

How should we situate the current interest in Black writers against the violence perpetrated on Black men regularly?

How do contemporary Black male memoirs (such as Damon Young’s recent memoir-in-essays, What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker) build upon or diverge from canonical memoirs?

How does the literature of Black men incorporate gender and/or feminism?

How do we teach contemporary Black male writers to our students?

How do Black male writers fit within NeMLA’s theme of “Shaping and Sharing Identities”?

Papers can be comparative in scope or focus on a single author or topic. This panel is for the Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) conference, March 5-8 2020 in Boston. Please send 150-word abstracts and a brief bio to Dr. Donavan L. Ramon, Assistant Professor of Liberal Studies at Kentucky State University, directly through NeMLA's website, at Abstracts are due by September 30 2019.