BlackAntiquaLit: Reading the Black Past

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast MLA Conference in Boston
contact email: 

This panel reviews aspects of legacy identity formation inclusive but not restrictive to race, class, sex, and gender origins connectivity. The panel involves literary/theoretical inquiry working within a transdisciplinary spectrum of non-fiction, fiction, poems, songs, fashion, material culture, curated museum exhibitions/holdings, and/or interpretations of works of art, visual, film, and images as well. Papers should address construed understanding of meanings of the Black past in any varying guises here considered BlackAntiquaLit: narration, art, fashion, visual, film, historicism, literary characterization, symbolism, epistemics, identities, the worldly, and empire and their clash.

The Black past is being conceived as a broad concept and this panel will glean references/allusions/themes of the Black past (primarily ancient Egyptian (i.e., Egyptianism) but not exclusively and open to the African past/derivation) used in various forms.  For example, in terms of fiction (and again this is neither restrictive nor exhaustive), this call welcomes review of Pauline Hopkins’ Of One Blood, Gwendolyn Brooks’ Annie Allen, V. S. Naipaul, A Bend in the River, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Michelle Moran, Nefertiti, The Heretic Queen, or Cleopatra’s Daughter, Ayi Kwei Armah’s Osiris Rising, KMT: The House of Life, or Sunhat, Ishmael Reed’s “I am a Cowboy in the Boat of Ra” or Mumbo Jumbo, Percey Bysshe Shelley’ “Ozymandias,” Frances Ellen Watkins Harper’s “Moses: A Story of the Nile” or Octavia Butler's Patternist novel series piece titled Wild Seed. In regard to history, this panel also welcomes W.E.B. Du Bois’ Black Folk: Then and Now or The World and Africa, Drusilla Dunjee Houston’s Wonderful Ethiopians, Cheikh Anta Diop’s African Origins of Civilization or Civilization or Barbaraism, Ivan Van Sertima’s They Came Before Columbus, Chancellor Williams’ The Destruction of Black Civilization, George G. M. James’ Stolen Legacy, Yosef Ben-Jochannan’s Black Man of the Nile, Wayne B. Chandler’s Ancient Future or Martin Bernal’s Black Athena. Regarding film, Jack Starrett’s Cleopatra Jones, Tina Gharavi’s documentary series, Queen Cleopatra. And in music, this panel welcomes analysis and inclusion of artists and works like Miles Davis’ Nefertiti, The Sun Ra Arkestra, Black Nubian Band, Earth Wind and Fire, Nas, Lauryn Hill, KRS One, Nina Simone, Prince, Fela Kuti, Erykah Badu, Beyoncé, or Rhianna. And lastly in art, analysis and works by Kara Walker, Fred Wilson, Amos Ashanti Johnson, or James E. Newton just to name a few. This panel considers BlackAntiquaLit in a broad sense and in varying representative forms and or receptions and allusions. The panel involves readings in film, art, graphic novel, etc. as text. Papers should delve into various aspects and uses of the Black past as inspiration, recovery, critique, gazing, negation, denial, pejoratives, slants, contention, revivalist, Egyptianism, Egyptomania, Africanism, and etc. etc. etc. This panel reviews and welcomes various ideals used in media that offer interpretives.  Papers should endeavor various facets seen in any era or time and that may include contemporary reconfigurations or popular cultural expressions on screen or read as text, works of art, again in a broad sense. The panel hopes to inform and reveal interconnectivities of BlackAntiquaLit and particularly locating countering and/or embellishing renditions.