Black Performance: A special issue of African American Review
Call for Papers Date:
Call For Papers
Some of the most eminent scholars of black culture have theorized black performance, leveraging the improvisation quality of blackness against the scripting of display. Cedric Robinson theorizes the revolutionary character of black culture in Black Marxism: the Making of the Black Radical Tradition and offers models of black performance as evidence of this insurgent impulse. He explains, “The evidence of the tradition’s persistence and ideological vitality among the Black slave masses was to be found not only in the rebellions and the underground but as well in the shouts, the spirituals, the sermons, and the very textual body of Black Christianity” (311). Along a similar line, Saidiya Hartman’s groundbreaking analysis in Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery and Self-Making in Nineteenth-Century America demonstrates the ubiquitous intersection of subjection, subject formation, and display in black people’s earliest experiences in the United States. In terms of twentieth century manifestations of black performance, Fred Moten locates an acoustic materiality that emanates from the scenes of subjection Hartman describes. The sounds that echo throughout In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition necessarily belong to a history of revolutionary action that emerges in response to degrading and dehumanizing images of black people.
As scripted forms of race continue to rear their ugly heads in Will.i.am’s blackface performance at the MTV 2010 video music awards alongside a Venus Hottentot-esque Niki Minaj, the time is ripe to investigate the past, present, and future of black performance and its relationship to the constitution of identity, aesthetic forms, and freedom movements. We welcome papers exploring how performance functions in literature, visual arts, music, film, and performance arts. We seek articles that draw connections among a performance and the historical and social context of its production. We want to consider modes of performance in the United States and abroad and invite papers that draw relationships between modes of performance across historical periods and geographic spaces, both nation and international. By examining black performances, this special issue hopes to locate a history of black insurgency that models strategies for combating enslavement, colonization, and imperialism in the past and the present.
Please email abstracts of no longer than 250 words, as well as a short bio or c.v., to firstname.lastname@example.org by 1 August 2011. The guest editor will invite contributors to submit completed essays of no longer than 8,500 words, excluding Notes and Works Cited, by 1 September 2011. Final drafts of essay will be due 15 November 2011.
Soyica Diggs Colbert, guest editor
Department of English
6032 Sanborn House
Hanover, NH 03755
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