Gloria Naylor’s 1996: A Teaching Companion (Edited Collection)

deadline for submissions: 
March 29, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Tarshia Griffin, Isaiah Frost Rivera
contact email: 

Gloria Naylor’s fictionalized memoir 1996 (2005) remains the least studied but most controversial selection in her decades-long literary output. Published by Third World Press at the tailend of her illustrious career, 1996 stands in stark contrast to Naylor’s iconic tetralogy — which includes Women of Brewster Place (1982), Linden Hills (1985), Mama Day (1988), and Bailey’s Cafe (1992), as well as the sibling text Men of Brewster Place (1998) — by centering the author herself in its bold critiques of state power and the ways marginalized communities fight to uphold it. 1996 has equal parts enthralled and enraged readers for its paranoid musings of state surveillance, as well as its contentious representations of minoritized communities including Black men, gay men, and Jewish people, all of which have contributed to its effacement from her literary legacy. As we approach the 20th anniversary of 1996’s publication, in the wake of ongoing political strife galvanized by mass surveillance, racial conflict, and Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian land, this edited collection seeks essays exploring how teachers, scholars, and activists can read Naylor’s prescient memoir as a key text in these emergent discourses and many more.

We invite interdisciplinary essay proposals that highlight novel approaches to analyzing, reading, and teaching Naylor’s 1996 memoir for undergraduate and graduate students. Proposals may explore a variety of aspects regarding 1996, including (but not limited to) its content, characters, format, themes, and critical reception. We also invite archival approaches to 1996, especially in relation to other writers’ archives. Of particular interest are essays that explore how Naylor’s memoir intertextually engages with canonical and contemporary works of its time, as well as other mediums and time periods. We aim to explore the following questions and concepts: 

  1. What are some ways 1996 can be taught alongside other 20th century Black women writers and their respective literary communities?

  2. How can 1996, its characters, and its themes be read in relation to contemporary social issues including, but not limited to, racialized gender, transnational solidarity, and global resistance movements against state violence?

  3. In what ways has 1996 been erased from Naylor’s canon (and Black American letters more broadly), and how might this erasure shape intertextual approaches to Naylor’s work?


Topics to consider:

Anti-Blackness, Antisemitism, Archives, Audience, Black Feminism, Class, Ecologies, Format, Gender, Homophobia, Intertextuality, Mental Health, Paranoia, Rest as Resistance, Sexism, Sexuality, Solidarity, State Violence, Surveillance, Transnational Coalition, Writing Craft


Abstract and Bio Submission Guidelines:

Abstracts should be approx. 500-750 words.

Bios should be approx. 100 words

Please combine abstract and bio in the same document.

Send to editors at



Chapter Manuscript Guidelines:

If accepted, contributors should write approx. 5,000-7,000 words (8K maximum, inclusive of footnotes and Works Cited), double-spaced, 12pt font, Times Roman style. Please include page numbers with your last name in the header. Citations should be formatted in the most recent form of Chicago style.



  • Abstracts& bios are due March 29, 2024.

  • Notifications will be sent by April 15, 2024

  • Completed draft of the chapter due June 15, 2024.


A publisher has expressed interest in our proposal. If you have any questions, please contact the editors Isaiah Frost Rivera and Tarsha Griffin at We look forward to reading your work.


Isaiah Frost Rivera, University of Texas at Austin

Tarsha Griffin, independent scholar