Call for Papers: African-American Literature at CEA 2020

deadline for submissions: 
November 1, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Christopher Varlack, Special Topics Chair with the College English Association
contact email: 

Call for Papers: African-American Literature at CEA 2020

March 26-28, 2020 | Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Hilton Head Marriott Resort and Spa

The College English Association, a gathering of scholar-teachers in English studies, welcomes proposals for presentations on African-American literature for our 51st annual conference. Submit your proposal at

In African-American literature, the concept of tides takes on many different meanings over time. For some, tides represent the recurring themes in African-American literature as authors explore the Black condition and the forces that affect how Blackness is perceived and understood in the U.S. cultural imagination. Historically, the myth of Black inferiority is one such tide, ushered in during the antebellum and resurging during the Jim Crow era, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Black Lives Matter Movement of the present day. For others, tides can represent the obstacles that African-American people must swim against in search for freedom, equality, and opportunity in the United States. This, however, is just a starting place for how we can conceptualize tides as they relate to African-American literature. We encourage interested participants to think about tides in new and exciting ways to stimulate conversation about African-American literature across time.

Conference Theme

CEA welcomes proposals for presentations on the general conference theme: Tides. The College English Association’s 51st national conference will be held on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, where the tides shape the land and the culture, from food and drink to music and literature. Hilton Head’s fame as a vacation destination is paralleled by the island’s rich and diverse cultural history, with its still-vibrant Gullah/Geechee community and Low country traditions of hospitality. Whether bolstered or battered by the tide, Hilton Head survives and thrives. The South Carolina Low country has inspired literature by Edgar Allan Poe and contemporary fiction and poetry from writers such as Gloria Naylor, Pat Conroy, Anne Rivers Siddons, Dorothea Benton Frank, and Mary Alice Monroe, while the Low country and Hilton Head have appeared in countless films.

CEA invites proposals from academics in all areas of literature, language, film, composition, pedagogy, and creative, professional, and technical writing. We are especially interested in presentations that feature topics relating to tides in texts, disciplines, people, cultural studies, media, and pedagogy. For your proposal you might consider these concepts related to Tides:

  • inevitability: shifts and trends relating to race, class, cultures, regions, genders, sexualities
  • mutability and mutation: poetry of loss, change, and death
  • evanescence: reclaiming texts that have vanished and reevaluating the canonical
  • liminality: shifting borders in genre and form
  • ephemerality: popular culture and forgetting
  • resistance: pedagogical theory and practice
  • transcendence: magical realism 
  • movement: avant garde or experimental literature
  • erosion and deposition: the new topography of instruction

General Call for Papers

CEA also welcomes proposals for presentations in any of the areas English departments typically encompass, including literature criticism and scholarship, creative writing, composition, technical communication, linguistics, and film. We also welcome papers on areas that influence our work as academics, including student demographics, student/instructor accountability and assessment, student advising, academic leadership in departments and programs, and the place of the English department in the university.

Submission Window: August 15-November 1, 2019 

For more information on how to submit, please see the full CFP at

All presenters at the CEA 2020 conference must become members of CEA by January 1, 2020. To join CEA, please go to

If you have other questions, please email

Dr. Christopher Allen Varlack
Lecturer | Honors College and the Individualized Study Program
University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)
1000 Hilltop Circle
Baltimore, Maryland 21250