Society for the Study of Southern Literature conference panel: Richard Wright and Racial Reckoning

deadline for submissions: 
August 15, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Alison Arant, Wagner College
contact email: 

Society for the Study of Southern Literature Conference 

February 17-20, 2022 | Atlanta, GA

Richard Wright and Racial Reckoning panel/roundtable

One longstanding criticism of Richard Wright is that his depictions of Black life in the United States were too totalizing: too ideological, devoid of joy, and circumscribed by racism. However, as new technologies and our national political climate have made white supremacy, police brutality, and structural racism harder to deny, Richard Wright’s work is both prescient and urgent in the twenty-first century. In June 2021, Imani Perry called for a sensitive reconsideration of Richard Wright, especially in light of an increased awareness that complex depictions of Black people have not brought about universal recognition of Black humanity ( This panel aims to participate in such a reevaluation, seeking to engage Wright’s works, including his recently published posthumous novel The Man Who Lived Underground (2021). Possible topics might include but need not be limited to: Wright’s literary naturalism and its relationship to critiques of systemic injustice; police brutality and the carceral state in Wright’s work; Wright and the persistence of white supremacy; Wright in conversation with his critics; and reassessing Wright’s role in Southern Studies.

Please submit 250-word proposals and a short biography to Alison Arant (Associate Professor of English, Wagner College) at by August 15, 2021. This panel could also take the form of a roundtable depending on the number of submissions.