English in Liberia: Language and Literature

deadline for submissions: 
January 31, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Martin Mühlheim / UZH English Department
contact email: 

Despite a wealth of historical research on Liberia – a country founded by black U.S.settlers brought to West Africa in the 1820s, under the auspices of the American Colonization Society (ACS) – Liberian English and Anglophone Liberian literature remain under-researched.

This seminar session at the ESSE 2022 Conference in Mainz, Germany (August 29-September 2, 2022 - https://esse2022.uni-mainz.de/) aims to provide an interdisciplinary forum for authors, linguists, and literary scholars working on Liberia (incl. the country’s transnational connections).

Three key aims are:

  1. to foster a more sustained dialogue on Liberia;
  2. to situate Liberia within larger debates (e.g. postcolonial studies or World Englishes);
  3. to outline future research areas.

The novelist Vamba Sherif (www.vambasherif.com) will deliver an opening address on English in Liberia.

In addition, we are looking for scholarly contributions focusing on topics such as:


  • characteristic features of Liberian English;
  • origin and development of Liberian English;
  • multilingualism and language contact;
  • Liberian English in the diaspora and the sociolinguistics of migration;
  • language choice and identity;
  • language attitudes and policy.


  • life writing (e.g. letters or memoirs);
  • 19th-century travel narratives;
  • the civil wars and trauma fiction (e.g. Elma Shaw);
  • individual works and authors (e.g. Wilton Sankawulo, Bai T. Moore);
  • poetry, drama, and performance (e.g. Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, Kona Khasu);
  • diaspora literature (e.g. Wayétu Moore)
  • Liberia, Pan-Africanism, & postcolonial theory (e.g. Edward Wilmot Blyden)

A PDF version of the CFP is available at https://drive.switch.ch/index.php/s/1DgkjbkjoUnct3a .

Seminars consist of a varying number of academic papers and discussions. The length of the papers is 20 minutes with an added ten minutes for discussion. All the following seminars are looking for proposals for papers of not more than 250 words. These should be submitted together with a short CV to the seminar convenor(s) by 31 January 2022.