CLAJ Special Issue: Afrofuturism

deadline for submissions: 
August 1, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
College Language Association
contact email: 


Special Issue: Afrofuturism


Deadlines: Submit 500-word abstracts and brief biography by August 1, 2021 to Shelby Crosby and Terrence Tucker Articles (6500 words) will be due September 15, 2021, for a publication, subject to peer review.


This special issue of CLAJ will explore Afrofuturism in all of its fantastical facets. We want folks to open their minds to the possibilities that this dynamic and urgent tradition offers in constructing alternative Black experiences and lives. We seek essays that explore the ways Afrofuturism’s impact on our racial discourse and its reflection of an era that involves #BlackLivesMatter, mass incarceration, and the reinvigoration of white nationalism globally. Essays in this special issue should consider the larger implications of what the presence of fantasy, magic, and sci-fi in a tradition often heavily committed to realist and naturalist narratives. We invite creative writing submissions, scholarly essays, book reviews, and essay about pedagogy.


Possible Topics:

  • Creative submissions—poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction
  • Afrofuturism & Music
  • Afrofuturism & African American Literature
  • Black Literary Prehistory of Afrofuturism
  • Black Speculative Fiction/ Black Speculative Arts Movement
  • Afrofuturism, Language, & Linguistics
  • Afrofuturism, Film, & Television
  • Afrofuturism & Social Justice
  • Afrofuturism & Gender (fluidity, bending, etc.)
  • Afrofuturism & Pedagogy


As part of the larger Black Speculative Arts Movement that includes a number of other black expressive forms, Afrofuturism has quickly emerged has as one of the most dynamic and urgent traditions in constructing an alternative black experience. Its invocation of an African culture and ancestry to conceive a black futurity that articulates a vision of black life that discards – but does not ignore – the vicious parameters imposed by white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. Afrofuturism, a term first coined by Mark Dery in 1994, has increasingly captured the attention and imagination of critics who have explored its expansion from genres like science fiction and fantasy to become a larger political and cultural worldview that counters the nihilism that alienates African Americans from imagining a future beyond the dehumanizing and marginalizing experiences they witness and endure.


Yet the explosion of Afrofuturism into the popular mainstream in the 21st century has situated it as one of the most significant black literary and cultural movements since the Harlem Renaissance. Embodied by the 2018 film Black Panther, the multiple print and film projects helmed by Nnedi Okorafor, and the musical and aesthetic work of Janelle Monae, the language around Afrofuturism has begun to reach a wider audience. Yet Afrofuturism is not merely a series of works by individual black authors interested in science fiction or fantasy works but part of larger tradition in African American literature that imagines a black future that stands in direct opposition to the cycle of hegemonic oppression that relies on a white, masculinist construction of race, identity, and culture. Foregrounded for many with Octavia Butler’s embrace of black female writers that emerged during the 1970s alongside her interest in science fiction, this special issue sees the surge of Afrofuturist works as an extension of African American literary and artistic production that has always sought to conceive of black future outside the white gaze and sought by contrast to evoke the wisdom and resistant spirit of the black ancestor.