Forging Identities: Agency, Voice, and Representation in African American Literature and Beyond

deadline for submissions: 
January 16, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Howard University Graduate English Student Association
contact email: 

The Howard University Graduate English Student Association’s 5th Annual Conference

Forging Identities: Agency, Voice, and Representation in African American Literature and Beyond


Deadline for Submissions: January 16, 2021

Conference Date: March 26, 2021

Conference Location: Zoom

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Keith D. Leonard, Author of Fettered Genius

In her 1993 Nobel Lecture, the late Toni Morrison said, “Language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. Language alone is meditation.” Throughout the history of the African diaspora, Black people have demonstrated the power of language and cultural narratives to (re)envision, (re)imagine, and (re)articulate notions of identity. To interrogate and investigate the complex relationship between narratives of artistic production and identity formation, The Graduate English Student Association invites presentations, panels, and roundtables for its fifth annual conference on the theme Forging Identities: Agency, Voice, and Representation in African American Literature and Beyond.

We ask participants to consider how art and language both mediate the imposition of identity and continually birth new forms of identifying. How do literature and cultural creations aid in the crafting of multilayered, complex identities that represent Blackness beyond binaries and monoliths? How do Black artists both confront their oppression and envision their liberation? This conference, then, invites interrogation of cultural production from the Black Diaspora (e.g., music, drama, visual art, literature, and so on) as it conveys discourse on notions of identity (e.g., race, class, gender, sexuality, and so on).

Papers from a variety of disciplines and interdisciplinary approaches will be considered. Possible fields of study include literature, including African, African Amerian, and Caribbean literatures; history, performance studies, women and gender studies, and so forth. Possible topics include but are not limited to the following: identity formation in a transnational context; expressions of intersectionality within artistic practice; rhetorics of identity, including digital rhetoric; performing identity in virtual spaces; interrogating diversity, identity, and color blindness in “post”-racial America; identifying through speech acts, articulations, and spoken word; controlling images and misrepresentation; social media and autobiographical writing; navigating the intersections: race, gender, and sexuality; diversity and education, including literacy.


Send a 250-word abstract and a short bio to by the January 16, 2021.