"Black Feminist Intimacies at the Limits of Legibility": American Studies Association (ASA) Panel

deadline for submissions: 
January 15, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Carmel Ohman / American Studies Association
contact email: 

CALL FOR PAPERS: American Studies Association (ASA)

In-person, Le Centre Sheraton,

Montreal, Canada, Nov 2nd-5th, 2023


Session Title: “Black Feminist Intimacies at the Limits of Legibility”

Session Organizer: Dr. Carmel Ohman, Brandeis University

Due Date: Please send 200-word abstracts to carmelohman@brandeis.edu by January 15, 2023 

In a December 2022 Artforum essay on sculptor Simone Leigh, scholar Rizvana Bradley contextualizes Leigh’s uses of opacity as a Black feminist strategy for cultivating inner lives and intimacies that elude anti-Black and misogynist capture. In the tradition of Harriet Jacobs and her material-spiritual loophole of retreat (1861), Leigh’s art refuses transparency, legibility, and comprehensibility in the interests of shielding complex interiorities from cooptation and harm. 

Convened in response to the American Studies Association (ASA) conference theme “Solidarity: What Love Looks Like in Public” (https://www.theasa.net/node/293/), this session sits with Black feminist strategies of intimacy, love, solidarity, and connection at the limits of outside understanding. The session organizer invites proposals for 15-20 minute presentations from writers and artists thinking at one or more intersections of Black studies, sexuality studies, Black feminist criticism, performance studies, Black literary studies, and Black visual cultural studies. Topics might include but are not limited to:

  • Short forms (response essays, social media threads) as Black feminist solidarity practice (Rizvana Bradley)
  • Black women’s theories of looking (Tina Campt, bell hooks)
  • Intellectual and artistic strategies of Black privacy (Shoniqua Roach), opacity (Nicole Fleetwood, Simone Leigh), and dissemblance (Darlene Clark Hine)
  • Black women’s digital resistance strategies (Moya Bailey), including digital archives (Jessica Marie Johnson, P. Gabrielle Foreman) and community-sourced preservation efforts (United Order of the Tents)
  • Black women’s theories (and reframings) of the public and private (Toni Morrison)
  • Black women in publishing (Phoebe Robinson)
  • Black genders and sexualities at the limits of the American Grammar Book (Hortense Spillers)
  • Black women audiences and fan communities (Dayna Chatman)
  • Comedy or satire with Black feminist commitments (Danielle Fuentes Morgan)
  • Approaches to reading and teaching Black women’s intellectual and artistic production (Aida Levy-Hussen)
  • Complex Black pleasures, erotic or otherwise, under various conditions of legibility (Mireille Miller-Young, Jennifer Nash)

Please send 200-word abstracts to Dr. Carmel Ohman at carmelohman@brandeis.edu by January 15, 2023. Presenters must pre-register for the conference. Individuals are limited to one scholarly presentation at ASA (though you can serve as a chair, moderator, or commentator on a second session). Please note that this is an in-person conference to take place at Le Centre Sheraton in Montreal, Canada from Nov 2nd-5th 2023. For more information, please see the ASA Annual Meeting website: https://www.theasa.net/node/293/.