“Christianity and African American Literature(s)—Convergences and Consequences” 

deadline for submissions: 
September 1, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Peter Kerry Powers/ Christianity & Literature
contact email: 

African American literary traditions are unimaginable apart from their engagement with and transformation of numerous Christian faith traditions. From the beginning, African American writers wrestled with the imposition and inheritance of Christianity and its attendant cultural and social formations that had directly contributed to and justified chattel slavery and its aftermath. However, Black writers and activists transmuted Christianity; a baser metal became a useful and precious one, shaped through political resistance, artistic development, and demands for social and moral reform. Making new tools out of the “master's tools” (to borrow Audre Lorde’s famous metaphor), African American authors effectively rebuilt the “master's house” of Christianity from both within and without. Developing distinctive cultural forms and genres, Black Americans have created a national literature that both embodies and wrestles with Christianity. 

This special issue of Christianity & Literature calls for submissions that examine the literary and cultural inheritance(s) of Christianity in African American letters. Essays that take up any of the following issues are welcome. Examinations of contemporary developments in Black culture and experience are particularly encouraged. 


  • Developing new theologies, epistemologies, aesthetics, or ways of reading using the tools of Christian traditions 

  • African American literature and Christianity now—especially contemporary changes and challenges to a historic relationship  

  • The changing shape of Christian figures as cultural icons in African American Literature (biblical, historical, political) 

  • The Black Church as a siteofliterary practice and theological development 

  • Christian faith, political and social action, appropriation, or accommodation 

  • African American literature as index of progress, achievement, or racial uplift 

  • Christianity as an oppressive force or a liberatory presence in Black lives  

  • Genre criticism (poetic forms, jeremiad, slave/freedom narrative, the short story or novel, graphic novels) 

  • Christianity and sexuality in African American Literature(desires, acts, practices; histories, activism), constructions of gender, and religious experience or sacred traditions 

  • Christianity, Critical Race Theory and the social construction of race  

  • Christianity andpolitical conflicts overeducation(e.g., book bans, shaping AP curricula, The 1619 Project, teaching chattel slavery, national identity) 

  • Christian practice as a sourceof authentic African American voice versus false consciousness 

  • Christianityand African American secularism or atheism 

  • Any other issue related to Christianity and African American literature 

Deadline: Completed essays(6000-9000 words) due to Peter Powers (ppowers@messiah.edu) by September 1, 2023.   All essays should be formatted according to the Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition.  

 Inquiries: Direct inquiries about the issue to either Peter Powers (ppowers@messiah.edu) or Jennifer McFarlane-Harris (mcfarlanehaj@spu.edu). 

 Journal Editorial Statement: Christianity & Literature is a scholarly journal devoted to the exploration of how literature engages Christian thought, experience, and practice. The journal presupposes no particular theological orientation but respects an orthodox understanding of Christianity as a historically defined religious faith. Contributions appropriate for submission should demonstrate a keen awareness of the author's own critical assumptions in addressing significant issues of literary history, interpretation, and theory. Christianity & Literature is the official publication of the Conference on Christianity & Literature (CCL).