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


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 ( 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 ( ) and Jean-Philippe Marcoux ( ) no later than January 7, 2018.  Presenters must be members of AALCS by the time of the conference.  Register here.







African American Literature and Culture Society Awards Reception at the 28th Annual Conference of the American Literature Association

May 26, 2017 at the Westin Copley Place, Boston, MA

The AALCS recognized outstanding contributions to African American literature at the American Literature Association Conference in Boston. Cheryl Wall received the Octavia E. Butler Award; Henry Louis Gates, Jr., received the Darwin T. Turner Award and Jamaica Kincaid received the Stephen Henderson Award. 


The African American Literature and Culture Society hosted the Awards Reception at the 28th Annual Conference of the American Literature Association.  Kathryn T. Gines presented Cheryl Wall (Rutgers University) with the inaugural Octavia E. Butler Award for Outstanding Contributions to Scholarship on Black Women Writers.  Gene Jarrett presented Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (Harvard University) with the Darwin T. Turner Award for Outstanding Contributions to African American Literary Scholarship and Aldon Nielsen presented Jamaica Kincaid (Harvard University) with the Stephen E. Henderson Award for Outstanding Contributions to Prose. Carolyn Denard of the Toni Morrison Society recognized Evelyn Schreiber for her contributions in furthering the study of Toni Morrison, and the Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins Society presented their award for an outstanding high school student essay.  The awards reception was presided over by AALCS president, Shirley Moody-Turner, and continued in the Society’s long tradition of recognizing the outstanding work and achievements of the preeminent scholars and creative artists in the field of African American literature.


Kathryn T. Gines (left) and Cheryl Wall. Photo by Aldon L. Nielsen.

Cheryl Wall is the Board of Governors Zora Neale Hurston Distinguished Professor English at Rutgers University.  Her scholarship on black women writers, including Changing Our Own Words: Criticism, Theory and Writing by Black Women; Women of the Harlem Renaissance; and Worrying the Line: Black Women Writers, Lineage, and Literary Tradition, centers within the black literary tradition, the aesthetic and thematic innovations and lineages of black women writers.  In addition to her years of scholarly contributions, her work as an institution-builder and mentor of women of color scholars, marked most prominently by her role in creating the African American and Diaspora Postdoctoral Fellowship at Rutgers University, has helped change the face of the field and support the careers and research of numerous black women scholars.


Gene Jarrett (back turned) and Henry Louis Gates Jr. Photo by Aldon L. Nielsen.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. He is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic, and institution builder, and has authored or co-authored twenty-one books and created fifteen documentary films.  In his dozens of books, films, edited collections and anthologies, ranging from the Norton Anthology of African American Literature and the Schomburg Library of Nineteenth-Century Black Women Writers to The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross and Finding Your Roots, Professor Gates has shaped the field of African American literary and cultural studies and brought critical attention to countless African American authors, artists and cultural workers, who, but for his tireless commitment and scholarly insight, might have remained neglected. His film and television projects have helped further expand the field of African American studies, educating and enlightening the wider public about the enumerable contributions and complex experiences of people of African descent. He is the recipient of fifty-five honorary degrees, was a member of the first class awarded “genius grants” by the MacArthur Foundation in 1981, and in 1998, was the first African American scholar to be awarded the National Humanities Medal.


Jamaica Kincaid. Photo by Aldon L. Nielsen.

Jamaica Kincaid is the Professor of African and African American Literature in Residence at Harvard University.  She has made extraordinary contributions to African American and Caribbean literature, as demonstrated in both her fiction and non-fiction writings.  She is the author or editor of fifteen books, and was a long-time contributor and featured columnist for The New Yorker.  In Annie John, Lucy, See Now Then, A Small Place, and My Garden Book, just to name a few, she centers black lives and experiences, while treating such complex theme and legacies as colonialism, post-colonialism, racism, sexism and other systems of oppression and neglect. In her role as writer-critic-gardener she helped shape the contemporary literary landscape, introducing, and indeed, insisting upon, new and more nuanced interpretations of African American and Caribbean literature and life.  She is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including a Guggenheim Award for Fiction, an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for The Autobiography of My Mother and a Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award for See Now Then.



The AALCS at the 28th American Literature Association Conference, Boston, May 25-28, 2017

African American Literature and Culture Society Panels – American Literature Association 2017

THURSDAY, MAY 25, 2017
9:00  to 10:20am

Session 1-A: Emotional Archives: Trauma, Memory and African American Literature
Chair: Belinda Waller-Peterson

  1. “The Afterlife and Legacy of Trauma in James Baldwin’s Fiction,” Benjamin Batzer, University of Iowa
  2. “‘Hurt You into Tenderness Finally’: Erotic Submission/Masochism and Black Female Subjectivity in Gayl Jones’s Corregidora,” Anna Ziering, University of Connecticut
  3. “‘Let Me Sing my Song’: Finding a Voice in Helene Johnson’s Pastoral Poetry,” Robert Fillman, Lehigh University

THURSDAY, MAY 25, 2017
1:30 to 2:50

Session 4-: Black Activism, Black Resistance
Chair:Aldon Nielsen

  1. “Black Arts Women Poets as Warriors AND Queens: Intersectional Identity on Public Television’s Black Journal in 1970,” Sarah Rudewalker, Spelman College
  2. “Embodied Spaces of Transformative Change in the ‘Homeless’ City: Affective Possibilities of Becoming Black in Daniel Black’s Listen to the Lambs,” Lâle Demirtürk, Bilkent University, Turkey
  3. “‘The Evil of the One Room Cabin’: Black Clubwomen Apprehending the Problem of Black Female Sexuality and Transforming it into Possibility in The Woman’s Era 1894-1897,” Erica Richardson, Columbia University
  4. “The Question of Community Building, Spectacle, and Progress,” Sarai Johnson, American University

FRIDAY MAY 26, 2017
9:40 to 11:00am

Session8-H: Politics of Care in African American Women’s Writing
Chair:Shirley Moody-Turner

  1. “Our Mothers’ Creole Gardens: Uprooting the Conjure Woman in the Work of Toni Morrison,“ Rachel Carr, University of Kentucky
  2. “Care Networks as the Locus of Social Change in Toni Cade Bambara’s Early Fiction,” Susan Edmunds, Syracuse University.
  3. “The Persistently Pedagogical and Ever Ecological Mama Day,” Asha Tall, Tufts University
  4. “Toni Cade Bambara’s Alternative Models of Disability,” Anna L. Hinton, Southern Methodist University

 FRIDAY MAY 26, 2017
3:40 to 5:00

Session 12-H: Trails of History: Colson Whitehead, Lauret Savoy and George Fortman
Chair: Loretta Woodard

  1. “‘The Long, Dark Trail’: Travel, Trauma, and Identity in the Narrative of George Fortman,” Rosetta R. Haynes, Indiana State University
  2. “ ‘No One Wanted to Hear It’: The Underground Railroad and the Perilous Preservation of Black Literary History,” Iain Bernhoft, Rhode Island School of Design
  3. “Reimagining History: The Question of Authenticity in Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad,” Sonia Weiner, Tel Aviv University
  4. “Memorializing the Land, Memorializing the Archive: Exploring the Unidentified and Unidentifiable in Lauret Savoy’s Trace,” Leah Barlow, University of Pennsylvania


 FRIDAY MAY 26, 2017
7:15 TO 9:00PM




11:10 to 12:30am



2:10 to 3:30


Session 18-G: Genre Crossings in African American Literature
Chair:Grégory Pierrot

  1. “David Walker, Black Pamphleteering, and the First African American Novel,” Eric Curry, Independent Scholar
  2. “‘Days of my childhood I woo you not back’: Dislocating Childhood in Frances E.W. Harper’s Iola Leroy,” Shannon Brennan, Carthage College
  3. “The Death Spaces—Homewood and Prison: John Edgar Wideman’s Brothers and Keepers, JuYoun Jang, University of Mississippi
SUNDAY, MAY 28, 2017
8:30 TO 9:50am
Session 21-A: African American Theory, Chinese Perspectives: A Roundtable
 Chair: Wilfred D. Samuels, University of Utah
1.Yunqiu Wang, Huangzhou Dianzi University, China
2.Kai Kang, Huangzhou Dianzi University, China
3.Yanlin Xu, Huangzhou Dianzi University, China
4.Huijuan Tan, Huangzhou Dianzi University, China


Full program of the 28th ALA Conference

Call for Papers: 28th American Literature Association Conference, Boston, May 25-28, 2017

African American Literature and Culture Society
American Literature Association
28th Annual Conference
May 25-28, 2017

The Westin Copley Place
10 Huntington Avenue
Boston MA 02116-5798

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 ( We will also consider a limited number of panel proposals (of no more than 500 words).

Alice Walker’s 1983 In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens launched a new trajectory of black women’s scholarship and creative production that inspired African American literary scholars to extend her legacy at the intersections of ethnographic study, archival research, and literary production. This year we will be focusing on the theme, “Finding Our Mother’s Gardens: Black Women’s Writing, Activism, and Archival Research.” Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

*Black women authors and poets of the 70s-80s (Alice Walker, June Jordan, Toni Cade Bambara, Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, Audre Lorde, Gayl Jones, Ntozake Shange, etc.)

*The Life and Work of Gloria Naylor
*Womanism Then and Now
*Writing as activism, writing as self-care
*Women in the Archive

*The Boston Women’s Health Collective: 46 years of “Our Bodies, Ourselves”
*Black Feminist Theory in the Age of Intersectionalism


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 ( and Keith Leonard ( ) no later than January 6, 2017. Presenters must be members of AALCS by the time of the conference.

Inaugural Issue of the James Baldwin Review

The James Baldwin Review (JBR) is an annual journal that brings together a wide array of peer‐reviewed critical and creative work on the life, writings, and legacy of James Baldwin. In addition to these cutting-edge contributions, each issue contains a review of recent Baldwin scholarship and an award-winning graduate student essay. The James Baldwin Review publishes essays that invigorate scholarship on James Baldwin; catalyze explorations of the literary, political, and cultural influence of Baldwin’s writing and political activism; and deepen our understanding and appreciation of this complex and luminary figure.

Check out the first issue here.

Search: Head of the Department of African American Studies (Pennsylvania State University)

The Pennsylvania State University, College of the Liberal Arts, invites applications and nominations for the position of Head of the Department of African American Studies. The position is to be filled at the rank of tenured Associate Professor or Professor, effective July 1, 2016. Applicants should have scholarly credentials commensurate with a senior appointment at a major research university, demonstrate administrative experience or evidence of administrative potential, have the ability to manage the on-going grant and development activities of the department, and the flexibility to lead a multi-disciplinary unit with existing and potential partnerships with multiple graduate programs across the college. The Dean is prepared to make investments commensurate with maintaining and improving the department`s national and international reputation. Applicants may have joint appointments in other academic units of the university as appropriate. The Department of African American Studies offers a B.A. in African American Studies and a Dual Title Ph.D. in African American and Diaspora Studies in conjunction with doctoral programs in Art Education, English, and History. Its faculty are drawn from the humanities and social sciences. For more information about our department, please visit our website at Interested parties should submit a formal letter of application, current curriculum vitae, and the names and contact information of three references. Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled. Questions about the search should be directed to Professor Paul Clark, Chair, Search Committee at