BOOK CHAPTERS on Maya Angelou (Abstracts due NOVEMBER 30, 2014)

full name / name of organization: 
Kendra N. Bryant, Florida A&M University
contact email: 

In light of Maya Angelou's most recent passing, I am inviting chapter essays that provide 21st century criticisms of Angelou's autobiographies, creative non-fiction, and poetry—preferably beyond I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, "Phenomenal Woman," and "Still I Rise." While there are some criticisms of Angelou's work (Myra K. McMurry, 1976; Carol E. Neubauer, 1983; Francoise Lionnet, 1989; Mary J. Lupton, 1990; Harold Bloom, 1995; Pierre Walker, 1995; Joanne Braxton, 1999) they precede the 21st century. Others (Terrasita A. Cuffie, 1999; Judith E. Harper, 1999; Patricia Kite, 1999; Pamela Loos, 1999; Corrine J. Naden, 2005; Vicki Cox & Miles Shapiro, 2006) are basically biographies; and many of them are for juvenile readers. With that said, I am proposing an edited collection of Angelou criticisms that memorialize her as an American writer worthy of scholarly attention.

With memorial poems such as "On the Pulse of Morning" (1993), "A Brave and Startling Truth" (1995); "We Had Him" (2009), and "His Day Is Done" (2014), Maya Angelou secured herself as one of the most renowned and influential voices of the 20th and 21st century. She has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Arts in 2000, the Lincoln Medal in 2008, three Grammy Awards, and over 50 honorary degrees. However, with the exception of the anthologized and translated Caged Bird, rarely is Angelou's work theoretically discussed beyond secondary institutions.

Therefore, the proposed collection, tentatively titled "A Song Flung Up to Heaven": New Critical Essays on Maya Angelou, aims to showcase Maya Angelou's womanism, patriotism, social activism, Blackness, and spirituality as revealed in her poems, creative non-fiction, autobiographies, cookbooks, and children's narratives. Objectively, new criticisms should inspire readers to understand and appreciate Angelou as a creative theorist. In other words, essays should reintroduce readers to Maya Angelou beyond her most celebrated I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings and her often recited "Phenomenal Woman" and "Still I Rise."

While a few essays may still respond to those popular pieces, new criticisms should be careful to avoid duplicating criticisms that have already been written about those works. Additionally, submitters should avoid writing book reviews and biographies, as they are not acceptable for this particular collection.

"A Song Flung Up to Heaven": New Critical Essays on Maya Angelou seeks chapter essays that address, but are not limited to, the following themes:

• Race, Class, & Gender
• Pedagogical implications
• Womanism
• Civil Rights Movement
• Food & the Black Family
• African Diaspora
• Black English
• Patriotism
• Spirituality and/or Religion

Those interested should send abstracts of 500 words or less (as PDF or Word attachments), along with a brief bio, to by November 30, 2014. Chapters of approximately 12-15 pages (including Works Cited) will be due Spring 2015.