Excavating New Critical Landscapes: The August Wilson Archive, The Writer’s Landscape, and the August Wilson House Renovation Project

deadline for submissions: 
September 15, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
August Wilson Society
contact email: 

The August Wilson Society seeks proposals for individual papers, panels, or workshops for its March 2nd - 4th 2023 Biennial Colloquium that assess the current and future impact that the work being done by three Pittsburgh institutions has or will have in forging “new critical landscapes.” Timed in conjunction with the Spring 2023 opening celebration of the August Wilson Archive at the University of Pittsburgh Library System (ULS), this national gathering will convene artists, educators, theater practitioners, archivists, museum curators, theater scholars, and students, among a huge fan base of the late playwright and his work.

This interdisciplinary conference aims to highlight the significance of the August Wilson Archive while also drawing attention to two other Pittsburgh landscapes whose projects to preserve various aspects of Wilson’s legacy are certain to significantly enhance scholarship in theater studies, black studies, and August Wilson studies. For more information, visit the August Wilson Archive - https://augustwilson.library.pitt.edu/.

We welcome abstracts for papers that address the following broad questions:

  • Why are archives relevant to black theater studies?

  • What is the importance of creating, maintaining, or ultimately bequeathing

    archival materials of living artists?

  • What is the relationship between August Wilson's legacy/black theater and

    Pittsburgh culture?

  • What are the ethics and methodologies involved in archival research in the

    contemporary era?

  • In addition to University of Pittsburgh Library System’s acquisition of the

    Wilson Archive, the August Wilson African American Cultural Center has just completed August Wilson: The Writer’s Landscape, a 3600 square foot major interactive exhibit. Less than 2 miles from AWAACC, August Wilson’s boyhood home at 1727 Bedford Avenue has been named an historical site and received funding to renovate and transform this space to a writer’s hub set to open to the public in August 2023.

  • What is the cumulative impact of these three Pittsburgh institutions’ efforts to create monuments to August Wilson?

Abstracts of no more than 150 words should be uploaded to our Google form by September 15, 2022. The link to the form can be found here:

2023 Biennial Colloquium Call for Papers - https://forms.gle/v3VRwCG2PEiWb5jc7 *******

The August Wilson Society also calls for proposals from scholars to visit the August Wilson Archive at the University of Pittsburgh. The newly acquired collection— set to open to selected scholars in January 2023—features several unseen texts from Wilson's personal archive, including rough drafts of his Century Cycle plays, unpublished drafts of non-Century Cycle plays, correspondence between Wilson and several of his contemporaries, and journals of his personal writing. Generous funding from the University of Pittsburgh will support travel to the collection for 5-7 scholars, artists, educators, or students who will then form a panel that reflects on the personal, intellectual, and artistic import of the collection. Researchers might choose a single artifact in the Wilson archive to respond to or a key theme that invokes several artifacts that deepen our understanding of Wilson’s life and work and/or its relation to the larger socio-historical record to which the artifact(s) and Wilson respond.

The proposal must incorporate some aspect of archival research into discussions of Wilson and the items archived from his creative universe. Researchers might consider the following broad questions:

  • How might texts from this collection complicate existing critical discourse in Wilson studies/black theater studies?

  • What does the Wilson archive reveal uniquely about August Wilson, black theater studies, performance matters, and the politics of production (theater, film, textual, and otherwise)?

  • In ways does the Wilson archive reflect his awareness of archive as a practice of preservation and creation?

  • How does Wilson's correspondence bring to light the influence of his peers on the production of his plays?

    Abstracts of no more than 150 words should be uploaded to our Google form by September 15, 2022. The link to the form can be found here:

    January 2023 August Wilson Archive Field Visit - https://forms.gle/UKeeUchmkoBNTQhL9