2019 AALCS AWARDS RECIPIENTS

The African American Literature and Culture Society is proud to announce the recipients of the Stephen E. Henderson Award for Outstanding Achievement in Prose, and the Darwin T. Turner Award for Excellence in Scholarship in African American Culture and Literature for the year 2019.

WidemanJohn Edgar Wideman, our Henderson Award recipient, needs no introduction. From his first novel A Glance Away to his most recent collection American Histories, Wideman’s writing career spans five decades during which he has asserted himself as one of the most singular voices in American literature. Wideman’s works have been widely celebrated: he has notably won the International PEN/Faulkner Award twice for Sent for You Yesterday (1984) and for Philadelphia Fire (1990), which also won the American Book Award. His novel The Cattle Killing won the James Fenimore Cooper prize for best historical fiction in 1997. In 1993, he was the recipient of a Macarthur Genius Grant, and most recently in 2016 was elected to the American Academy of the Arts and Letters. Wideman founded and chaired the African American Studies department at the University of Pennsylvania. He has also taught at the University of Wyoming, the University of Massachusetts and Brown University.

 

KByerman
Keith Byerman
, our Turner Award recipient, is Professor in the Department of English at Indiana State University and current president of the John Edgar Wideman Society. He is the author of eight books from Fingering the Jagged Grain: Tradition and Form in Recent Black Fiction (1986) to The Life and Works of John Edgar Wideman (2013). He has been Associate Editor for the African American Review and has notably published in College Literature, ALH, CLA Journal, MELUS. Keith is a founding member of the African American Literature and Culture Society and has been Treasurer of the Society for many years.

Award recipients will be recognized and honored during the AALCS Reception and Reading held at the American Literature Association 30th Annual Conference (Westin Copley Place, Boston, MA) on Friday, May 24, 2019. The reception will feature readings from John Edgar Wideman’s work.

Get to know the AALCS! Introducing the Monthly Member Spotlight: First up, President Grégory Pierrot

The AALCS is very excited to feature our first member spotlight! Once a month we will feature a new member to emphasize the great work the AALCS is doing and build our community. First up, President Grégory Pierrot! Check out his responses below.

1) Tell us about yourself.

“I’m a 40 year-old, recently naturalized French immigrant of West Indian descent. I grew up in Metz, Lorraine, not too far from Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany. I obtained my PhD in English at the Pennsylvania State University, specializing in African American literature and Haitian Revolutionary Studies. I have been teaching at the University of Connecticut at Stamford since 2013. I’m a middling drummer, an even worse guitarist, a mostly regrettable singer, and I’ll play soccer anywhere on the left wing.”

2) What is your favorite class to teach/that you have taught?

“I’m very fond of my “Music in African American Literature” course. If the reasons aren’t obvious, it is because I get to listen to and discuss music with students all semester long. The course mixes history, pop culture, politics, and allows students a variety of angles into the material. It’s always made for very entertaining and lively discussions. As for myself, music was very important to me when I was growing up, and a crucial entry into African American culture and literature. The long history of relations between African Americans and France also means that the French at large think they have a special relation with black American culture. It is not untrue, but it is also a source of interesting cognitive dissonance when you’re black and French. I have broached it in this course, when relevant. At the confluence of music and literature, we also are bound to discuss matters of national and racial belonging, matters of formal, linguistic and cultural translation, i.e. all the things I’m interested in as a scholar. So it is a treat, hopefully for the students too!”

3) What is your current research project?

“I just turned in my book manuscript, The Black Avenger in Atlantic Culture, which hopefully will get published some time next year at Georgia UP. I mentioned earlier that I also work in Haitian Studies: I am a co-editor on an Anthology of Haitian Revolutionary Fictions, a wonderful project led by Marlene Daut (UVA) for which I am also doing translations (I moonlight as a translator). I have been working in collaboration with Tabitha McIntosh (Birkbeck) on cultural exchanges between Henry I of Haiti’s kingdom (1811-1820) and the West. We have written and continue to write articles and are currently working on a digital humanities project about the kingdom of Haiti, the first installment of which we hope to release later this year. I’m staying mysterious about it—suspense!—but I can say that this first installment will center on Néhri, a play by Haitian author Juste Chanlatte long believed lost, a copy of which McIntosh recently located. These projects have been occupying much of my time, but I have many more at different stages of completion. I’ll spare you for now.”

4) What made you specialize in this area?

“I consider myself a Black Studies scholar, and clearly my personal background had some influence on it. As a teenager I played in bands, wrote for fanzines that my sister started and which focused not just on music but on broader cultural and political matters. There was always a connection between these interests and literature to me, but not necessarily one that I thought could I could work on as a student. As a French grad student my specialization was more broadly American literature and I had a somewhat narrow understanding of what was allowed at the university—single-author study, that type of thing. Reading Paul Gilroy’s The Black Atlantic certainly made an impression on me as an example of a study that crossed disciplinary boundaries. The opening sentence in the first chapter— “Striving to be both European and black requires some specific forms of double consciousness”—struck me as a research program of sorts. The unspoken reference to DuBois also makes clear that this program necessarily includes African American thought and art. By the time I joined a grad program in the US it occurred to me that I could work on all those topics I’d been writing about and thinking about outside of academia. This may explain why some of my work falls under Romanticism, Haitian Studies, etc. What I’ve long been interested in is what it means to be black in the West; black literatures, cultures and history as they relate to each other. So I follow these interests where they take me, so to speak.”

5) What is your favorite food or meal?

“Aaaaaah what a tough question! There are too many to count, really, but to represent, I’ll say quiche Lorraine, my birth region’s gift to the culinary world, and accra, a cod fritter they make all over the Caribbean but which I know from my Martinican mother. I no longer eat meat but I still eat fish for now, so I suppose accra’s ahead of the traditional quiche with lardons, but the quiche is forgiving and versatile.”

ALA Symposium CFP: Come Present with the AALCS in Washington, DC!

 

African American Literature and Culture Society Call For Papers

American Literature Association Symposium

February 20-22, 2020

Klimpton Hotel Palomar
2121 P Street NW
Washington, DC 20037

The African American Literature and Culture Society invites abstracts (of no more than 250 words) for one panel of presenters at the American Literature Association Symposium. This year’s theme is “American Poetry.” The AALCS panel will feature papers about Black American poetry. The Society encourages scholars to think about Black American poetry as well as the lives and experiences of Black American poets.

Please send abstracts or proposals to Belinda Waller-Peterson (waller-petersonb@moravian.edu) and Jean-Philippe Marcoux (jean-philippe.marcoux@lit.ulaval.ca) no later than December 30, 2019. The review committee will evaluate proposals and communicate decisions via email by January 5, 2020. Information about the Society and how to join can be found at the AALCS website.

ALA CFP: Come present with the AALCS in San Diego!

African American Literature and Culture Society Call for Papers

American Literature Association

31st Annual Conference

May 21-24, 2020

Manchester Grand Hyatt
One Market Place
San Diego, CA

 

The African American Literature and Culture Society invites abstracts (of no more than 250 words) for presentations at the annual conference of the American Literature Association (http://americanliteratureassociation.org/).  We will also consider a limited number of panel proposals (of no more than 500 words).

This year’s theme is frontiers and borders. Inspired by the conference location, San Diego, and its border shared with Mexico, the multi-vectorial theme of frontiers invites critical engagements with the ways in which African American writers and thinkers conceptualize and theorize the West and Southwest, its potential for cross-cultural collaborations and creative coalitions capable of transcending national boundaries. The Society encourages scholars to think about the meaning of borders in African American Literature, but also in coalitions with Chicano/a and Latinx writers for instance. Are borders and frontiers only physical manifestations of national identities? Or, can they be textual, ontological, performative? What about crossing borders between rigid definitions of literary genres? What does it mean to write “without” borders, or “against” them? How do black writers engage with the symbol of the frontier?

Possible paper topics include, but are not limited to:

-The meaning of the West or Southwest in African American Literature

-The intertextuality between borders and modes of resistance

-The literary transgressions of multi-ethnic coalitions

-The politics of the border and the black literary imagination

-The symbol of the frontier in African American literature

-Conversations –literary and sociological –between black writers and Latinx.

While we welcome papers on the above themes and subthemes, we also strongly encourage submissions on any topic related to African American literature and culture.

Submission Information: 

Please send abstracts or proposals to Rachel Carr (CarrR@lindsey.edu) and Jean-Philippe Marcoux (jean-philippe.marcoux@lit.ulaval.ca) no later than January 10, 2020. Presenters must be members of AALCS by the time of the conference. Information about the Society and how to join can be found at the AALCS website: https://aalcsblog.wordpress.com/

Call for Papers: 30th American Literature Association Conference, Boston, May 23-26, 2019.

CALL FOR PAPERS

African American Literature and Culture Society

American Literature Association

30th Annual Conference

May 23-26, 2019

Westin Copley Place

10 Huntington Avenue

Boston, MA

The African American Literature and Culture Society invites abstracts (of no more than 250 words) for presentations at the annual conference of the American Literature Association (http://americanliteratureassociation.org/). We will also consider a limited number of panel proposals (of no more than 500 words).

The notion of ancestry is central to the formation of continuums in African American Literature and Culture. Whether in music, in novels, in polemical texts, or in poetry, the acknowledgment of the elders, of traditions, of memory can take on many forms. For instance, in the wake of the Black Arts Movement, poems eulogizing John Coltrane and Malcolm became a genre on their own. Those poems become occasions to address political struggles, vexed historical moments of the black experience, and deferred dream of equality and freedom. In intersecting ways, Sonia Sanchez and Natasha Tretheway both historicized in verse a mapping of black women experiences, from slavery to contemporary times. They address ancestry but reasserting the cultural significance of history and artistry as resistance.

In recent African American Young Adult Fiction (e.g. The Hate U Give, Ghost Boys, I Am Alphonso Jones), protagonists also evoke the ghosts of black martyrs (Emmett Till, henry Dumas) as a way to re-member and remember a fragmented past, one that can trace lineages, honor those whose suffering and brief life became symbolical of the treatment of African Americans throughout U.S. history. More than assessing notions of influence, those works interrogate the legacy of ancestry, the way contemporary writers revisit, recast, and reaffirm the lives, the experiences, and the sustained cultural meaning of previous generations. So, central questions arise: how do we reread and revisit the past? How do cultural legacies continue to shape our identity, our notion of history? What are the interlinkings between ancestry and canon formation? What figures of the past do we turn to in times of crisis?

 

Topics include, but are not limited to the following:

-Literary dialogues across the tradition: Black writers and the notion of Ancestry

-Black Lives Matter and Young Adult Fiction

-Didacticism, activism and artistry in Black Literary texts

-African American Literature and cultural memory

-Black writers and renegotiations of vernacular continuums

-The Legacy of Black Power in contemporary African American Texts

-Black Past, Bleak Futures: Ancestry in Afrofuturism

-Ntozake Shange: Life and Oeuvre

While we welcome papers on the above themes and subthemes, we also strongly encourage submissions on any topic related to African American literature and culture.

Please send abstracts or proposals to Belinda Waller-Peterson (waller-petersonb@moravian.edu ) and Jean-Philippe Marcoux (jean-philippe.marcoux@lit.ulaval.ca ) no later than January 4, 2019.  Presenters must be members of AALCS by the time of the conference.  Information about the Society can be found at the AALCS website: https://aalcsblog.wordpress.com/ .

Register to AALCS here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018 AALCS Award Recipients

The African American Literature and Culture Society is proud to announce the recipients of the Stephen E. Henderson Award for Outstanding Achievement in Poetry, and the Darwin T. Turner Award for Excellence in Scholarship in African American Culture and Literature for the year 2018.

 

Singleton

giovanni singleton (image from Harriet: a poetry blog)

giovanni singleton, our Henderson Award recipient, is the author of Ascension (Counterpath 2012), winner of the California Book Award Gold Medal for poetry, and AMERICAN LETTERS: works on paper (Canarium Books, 2017). Her poetry appears in many anthologies and is inscribed on the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, CA. She has been a fellow at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Cave Canem, and the Napa Valley Writers Conference, as well as a recipient of the New Langton Bay Area Award. She is the coordinator for the Lunch Poems series at the University of California-Berkeley and founding editor of nocturnes (re)view of the literary arts. She has taught at Saint Mary’s College, Naropa University and New Mexico State University.

 

 

MicheleElam

Michele Elam (photo by Linda Cicero)

Michele Elam, our Turner Award recipient, is William Robertson Coe Professor of American Studies, Olivier Nomellini Family University Fellow in Undergraduate Education, Professor of English, and currently Director of the Modern Thought and Literature at Stanford University. Elam is the author of Race, Work, and Desire in American Literature, 1860-1930 (Cambridge University Press, 2003), The Souls of Mixed Folk: Race, Politics, and Aesthetics in the New Millennium (Stanford University Press, 2011), and is Editor of the Cambridge Companion to James Baldwin (Cambridge University Press, 2015). She has published articles in African American Review, American Literature, Theatre Journal and Genre, among others as well as op-eds for CNN, Huffington Post, and Boston Review.

 

Award recipients will be recognized and honored during the AALCS Reception and Reading held at the American Literature Association 29th Annual Conference (Hyatt Regency, San Francisco, CA) on Friday, May 25, 2018. The reception will feature giovanni singleton reading from her work.

Call for Papers: 29th American Literature Association Conference, San Francisco, May 24-27, 2018

CALL FOR PAPERS

African American Literature and Culture Society

American Literature Association

28th Annual Conference

May 24-27, 2018

Hyatt Regency San Francisco
5 Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA

 

The African American Literature and Culture Society invites abstracts (of no more than 250 words) for presentations at the annual conference of the American Literature Association (http://americanliteratureassociation.org/). We will also consider a limited number of panel proposals (of no more than 500 words).

 

In our current social and political moment, protest, activism, and their discontents present challenges of interpretation, historiography, and narrative.  2018 marks the anniversary of a number of critical moments in the history of black protest in America, including the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the 1968 student protest leading to the creation of the first black studies department at San Francisco State University. In response to these events, this year we will be focusing on themes of activism and protest in African American literature and culture, in and outside the academy. Topics include, but are not limited to the following:

 

-Writing Respectability Politics: The Nineteenth Century and Today

-Writing Protest before the Black Arts Movement: The Harlem Renaissance and the 1940s

-The Black Arts Movement & Its 21st Descendants

-Black Women’s Rhetoric and Representation of the Civil Rights movement

Literary and Cultural Memories of black Assassinations (such as Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr., Bobby Hutton, Fred Hampton)

– Reading Iconic Collective Action of the Civil Rights Movement in the Age of #blacklivesmatter (including the sit-in, the march, the riot, and more recently, kneeling)

-Diasporic Imaginations of Martin Luther King Jr.

-San Francisco’s “Mission District”: Interracial coalitions and Literature of Protest

Umbra and Umbra: Latin/Soul (a literary journal and poet support group published in NYC in the 1960s and California in the 1970s)

-Literary Collaboration, Cross-pollination, and Interactions between “Third World” Writers

-Activism in the Academy: Discourses of the Black Studies Program

While we welcome papers on the above themes and subthemes, we also strongly encourage submissions on any topic related to African American literature and culture.

Please send abstracts or proposals to Belinda Waller-Peterson (waller-petersonb@moravian.edu ) and Jean-Philippe Marcoux (jean-philippe.marcoux@lit.ulaval.ca ) no later than January 7, 2018.  Presenters must be members of AALCS by the time of the conference.  Register here.