African American Review is soliciting papers for a special issue on Representing Segregation slated for publication in early 2008. Is there an identifiable literary tradition responding to, representing, or protesting US racial segregation? Examination of individual works, authors, genres, or movements are welcome.
Segregation—as an historical condition, a political ideology, a municipal planning scheme, and a de facto social system—profoundly shaped the lives of African Americans and other groups in the first half of the twentieth century, at least. Whether protesting, rejecting, refusing, or reaffirming segregation, numerous writers have necessarily responded to the history and experience of racial division in their literary projects. The past two decades of African American literary studies have evidenced great interest in the tropes, narratives, and legacies of slavery, migration, and diaspora within the literary imagination. In addition, in recent years scholars have studied specific practices of segregation in literature, most notably lynching. A broad inquiry into literatures of segregation is necessary to account for the literary legacy associated with practices of US racial segregation.
Possible questions individual articles might ask include, but are not limited to:
Is there such thing as a segregation narrative or a Jim Crow narrative? Is this a formalist, ideological, or historicist project?
How have the historical conditions of racial segregation informed narratives of race, nation, and geography?
What are the aesthetic techniques employed by Black writers to represent and protest racial segregation? Should these be in conversation with apologist or white supremacist writers of segregation literature, such as Thomas F. Dixon?
Where is segregation located? Is there a geography underpinning the literary imagination arising from segregation narratives? What place do segregation narratives have in literatures of migration?
What is the relation between literatures of segregation and literatures of separatism or racial self-determination?
How and why have writers from different ethnic or racial backgrounds borrowed, built from, or rejected African American representations of segregation?
Can transnational figures and texts like Richard Wright’s expatriate writings, W. E. B. Du Bois’s Ghanaian citizenship, James Baldwin’s European essays, or June Jordan’s anti-apartheid work elucidate the way writers negotiate the domestic and the international within segregation?
What does an African American literary tradition writ large look like from the vantage of a distinct tradition of literatures of segregation?
Send inquiries or proposals to Brian Norman (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Piper Kendrix Williams (email@example.com). Inquiries by December 15, 2006; completed papers are due by May 1, 2007. More information, including a link to the special issue website at http://aar.slu.edu/.
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