Contemplative Practice and Writing about Race - ALA 2023

deadline for submissions: 
January 6, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
American Religion and Literature Society
contact email: 

Contemplative Practice and Writing about Race

The American Religion and Literature Society (ARLS) invites papers for a panel at the American Literature Association Conference, May 25-28, 2023 in Boston. 

More than three decades into the writing of his long-anticipated Hickman Novel, Ralph Ellison told an interviewer that the book’s composition represented his effort to achieve “a pause for contemplation of the moral significance of the history we’ve been through.” Taking Ellison’s words as inspiration, this panel will seek to generate a wide-ranging exploration of the ways in which contemplative practices of all kinds have helped American authors of different backgrounds depict, illuminate, and transform racial experience, consciousness, structures, and history. What role does reflection on the human self’s nature, situatedness, antecedents, and interconnectedness play in the writer's struggle against racism? How have authors from different positionalities mobilized their search for increased awareness of divinity to reimagine racial identities, scripts, and relationships? What challenges do they face? What guidance does American literature—drawing on a host of wisdom traditions, and perhaps even secular forms of mindfulness and meditation—offer the spiritual aspect of readers' anti-racist work?

Please submit an abstract and short bio to Benji de la Piedra ( by January 6, 2023.