Edited Collection CFP for "William Wells Brown: A Man Of Letters"

deadline for submissions: 
October 15, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Dr. April Logan and Dr. Joe Conway
contact email: 

Call For Papers

Williams Wells Brown: A Man of Letters

William Wells Brown is the author of many firsts in African American literature – the first play, novel, and travel narrative – that did much to establish the tropes and motifs which would become its conventions. While Brown’s most taught and studied writings continue to be his autobiographical Narrative (1847) and his novel Clotel (1853), his literary career and political activism should not be reduced to these two works and the antebellum period. Indeed, as a prolific man of letters who published in five separate decades, Brown merits greater scholarly engagement with the breadth and influence of his literary works.   

This call for  papers seeks contributors for a volume of essays devoted to the richness of  William Wells Brown’s literary contributions. Editors April Logan (Salisbury University) and Joe Conway (University of Alabama in Huntsville) are most interested in considerations of Brown’s less studied writings and speeches. They also welcome papers that chart new approaches to his antebellum work, such as how Brown — an obsessive reviser of his own writing— adapted it to fit the new historical, cultural, and socio-political contexts of the Civil War and Reconstruction. The goal of this essay collection is to do critical justice to the length, eclecticism, and legacy of Brown’s literary career. 

Some texts and contexts to take up  might include but are not limited to the following:

  • Brown’s oratory in America and and his late 1877 speaking tour through England and Scotland


  • Brown’s engagement with music and poetry, such as in The Anti-slavery Harp (1848)


  • Brown as a playwright and performer (ex., The Escape (1858))


  • Brown’s interest in visual culture, such as in his Original Panoramic Views (1849)


  • Brown and the Black Atlantic, including his travel narratives such as Three Years in Europe: or, Places I have Seen and People I have Met. (1852); “Visit of a Fugitive Slave to the Grave of Wilberforce” in Autographs for Freedom (1854); and American Fugitive in Europe. Sketches of Place and People Abroad  (1855)


  • Brown’s historical imagination and the archive, his development as a historian, and/or his place in the Black historiographical tradition in works like St. Domingo: Its Revolution and Its Patriots (1855); The Black Man (1862); The Negro in the American Rebellion (1867); and The Rising Son (1873)


  • Brown’s innovations in traditional genres, such as his mixture of autobiography, politics, and humor in My Southern Home: or, The South and Its People (1880)


  • Brown’s many revisions, such as  Miralda’s 1860-1 publication in The Anglo-African and Clotelle’s 1864 publication in Redpath’s “Books for the Campfire Series”

A university press has shown strong interest in this project. The editors seek proposals of 250-300 words as well as a short C.V. describing the scholarly work of potential contributors. Proposals from graduate students and contingent faculty are very much welcome. Please submit proposals to aclogan@salisbury.edu and  jpc0018@uah.edu by October 15, 2024. Final essays will be expected by June 15, 2025.