iWrite Proudly: A Writing Symposium for Social Justice and the Literary Arts

deadline for submissions: 
February 23, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Billy Joe Turner Writing Symposium
contact email: 

Conference Dates: April 21st-April 22nd, 2022


The BJT Symposium is named after Billy Joe Turner, a retired professor who served many years in the Department of English at Texas Southern University. Born in Conroe, Texas, Prof. Turner completed his graduate studies at the University of Virginia where he studied Colonial and 20th Century literature. Soon after he graduated with his MA degree, Prof. Turner began teaching at Texas Southern University where he not only served his students exceedingly well, but he served the university in the same manner. As an American literature scholar, he often lectured on literary themes that focused on social justice. Discussions about Native Son, Invisible Man, Quicksand and other important novels, sparked many thought provoking talks about race, gender, and equality.  

The 1st annual BJT symposium seeks to extend these conversations about issues related to social justice by welcoming papers that consider the following questions:

Potential Questions:

  • How do we evaluate works about social justice across the cultures through art/poetry?  
  • What are some teachable moments about social justice in the works of Colson Whitehead, Jessmyn Ward, Kendrick Lamar, Common, etc.
  • What is the relationship between equity and equality in the works of Richard Wright?
  • Which literary texts nurture the differences between race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, and language?

Other topics to be considered:

  • Colorism in the works of Charles Chestnutt, Jessie Fauset, or more contemporary authors
  • The struggle for truth in Popular Culture, i.e., music, film, and television
  • Social problems of immigrants and migrants reflected in the literary arts (poverty, acculturation, education, housing, employment, social adjustment, and family difficulties)
  • HisStory, HerStory, TheirStory and Critical Race Theory
  • LGBTQIA+ rights and the Call for Social Justice

Topics that respond to the theme of social justice from any perspective will be considered.

Papers should be 3000-4000 words in length. Presenters will have 10-15 minutes to present, with 10 minutes allotted for the Q&A period. Papers should explicitly address how the essay will fit within the theme of the conference. Interested authors should send their abstract (500-750 words) or full paper (.doc or .pdf) to Michon.Benson@tsu.edu and Iris.Lancaster@tsu.edu no later 2-23-2022. In the subject line, include the words “BJT Submission”

*Posters/artwork displays/Digital art presentations should (but not limited to) showcase innovative approaches to the theme of social justice from any number of perspectives.

**If you are submitting artwork: Submit a maximum of three works of art in any medium – drawings, paintings, photographs. Photos of artwork must be submitted as jpg files ONLY, and they must be no larger than 1000 pixels sized under 300kb. Do not include borders or watermarks. Contributors should save and submit their files using the following format: John_Smith1.jpg, John_Smith2.jpg, etc.

If you are submitting poetry, you must submit a maximum of five poems: 200 line maximum for each.