CFP: Gloria Naylor: Contemporary Critical Analyses
Abstracts: 1 page, 250 words
Deadline: 30 May 2014
Sharon A. Lewis, Montclair State University
Ama Wattley, Pace University
We invite essays that read Gloria Naylor’s novels as explorations into intersections of race, gender and class, and as critiques of capitalism and other systematic or individual inequities. This collection will present a challenge to the risk of Naylor’s work becoming “secondary” or “minor.” For example, although Linden Hills (1986) enjoys a scholarly, academic audience, the novel is read mostly as a derivative companion to Dante’s Inferno. Such readings stifle possibilities of discovering the depth and complexity of Naylor’s creative talent and sustain Naylor’s authorial status as under-rated among more celebrated and awarded U.S. and international novelists. As Naylor’s fiction is rich and multifaceted, and as the last critical collection was published by Charles E, Wilson, Jr. in 2001, preceded by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and K. A. Appiah’s collection in 1993, we seek innovative, provocative, contemporary interpretations of Bailey’s Café, Mama Day and The Women of Brewster Place, The Men of Brewster Place as well as Linden Hills. Black womanist readings are welcomed, of course, but we also wish to place Naylor’s writing in a variety of contexts as all of her novels are situated in various socio-historical moments and regions. Some questions for contemplation:
*What roles do women play in Naylor’s novels in terms of economic and financial empowerment under capitalism?
*What are the traps the women encounter in terms of attempts to liberate themselves both with and without the support of community?
*What are some of their foremost struggles women confront as single and married women, with and without children, with and without material and economic support?
*What social class differences does Naylor sketch across her collection of novels and how do these representations resonate with or destabilize others?
*How does money function in Naylor’s fiction?
*What are the ways in which Naylor represents relationships between women and women, women and men, etc.? More specifically, are these representations the relationships capitalist ideology affords us? Is Naylor representing these relationships in general, or is she representing relationships under capitalism, demonstrating how capitalism disables and distorts these relationships?
*If we agree that Naylor’s literature foregrounds capitalism and a Black feminist aesthetic, how might we transform those theories into a more meaningful pedagogy?
*How do Naylor’s novels conceptualize community and the construction of gender and social class under capitalism?
*What are the ways in which Naylor’s novels critique capitalism as a form of empowerment? Can we identify textual evidence which inscribes capitalism as a principle cause of suffering, distress and destruction for African Americans?