CFP: Critical Insights: The Harlem Renaissance (Essay Collection: Abstracts by 12.31.14)

Critical Insights: The Harlem Renaissance

under contract with Salem Press

In the course of African-American cultural history, the Harlem Renaissance, also known as the New Negro movement, has proven one of the most influential in shaping and directing black artistic expression. For this collection, Critical Insights: The Harlem Renaissance, we seek a series of essays of five thousand to six thousand words for an anthology that explores the work of some of the most influential and at times controversial authors of the time from Langston Hughes to Claude McKay, Carl van Vechten to Zora Neale Hurston, Jessie Redmon Fauset, and Nella Larsen. Seeking to examine the underlying socio-cultural criticism within their works and the intellectual projects at the heart of their artistic endeavors, this collection offers insight into the era’s most celebrated as well as under-examined authors in hopes of expanding what Miriam Thaggert terms, “the well-worn Harlem Renaissance or New Negro paradigms.” Of course the aforementioned list of authors is only a partial list of an era that also include figures such as Richard Bruce Nugent, Dorothy West, Marita Bonner, James Weldon Johnson, and more, so we urge potential authors to consider other figures not included in this list.

In line with the expectations of the Critical Insights series, we ultimately seek essays that:

  1. Provide undergraduate and advanced high school students with a comprehensive introduction to works and aspects of the Harlem Renaissance that they are likely to encounter, discuss, and study in their classrooms;
  2. Help students build a foundation for studying the works and aspects in greater depth by introducing them to key concepts, contexts, critical approaches, and critical vocabulary found in the scholarship relating to the Harlem Renaissance.

The volumes follow a uniform format, including four original introductory essays as follows:

  1. A “critical lens” chapter (five thousand words, offering a close reading of the Harlem Renaissance, embodying a particular critical standpoint)
  2. A “cultural and historical context” chapter (five thousand words, addressing how the development of themes across the Harlem Renaissance as well as what makes the era still relevant to a contemporary audience)
  3. A “compare/contrast” chapter (five thousand words, analyzing the topic of the Harlem Renaissance with regard to two or three different works or authors)
  4. A “critical reception” chapter (five thousand words, surveying major pieces of comment or criticism of the topic and the major concerns, or aspects, that commentators on the topic have attended to over the years)

The book will also include ten to fourteen chapters that analyze the themes that pervade the experience of the Harlem Renaissance and focus specific attention on some of the best works and/or authors in the “genre.” Each essay will be five thousand words and comes with a small $250 payment. Together, these chapters will offer readers a comprehensive introduction to the essential themes that arise from the lives and works of Harlem Renaissance authors and reflect major critical approaches to the topic.

For this collection, selected writers are expected to:

  1. Center their essays on works, topics, and critical approaches that are commonly studied at the advanced high school and undergraduate levels and are representative of foundational and mainstream critical discourse about the Harlem Renaissance or its shifting directions. Topics and critical approaches should be neither dated, nor so cutting edge as to risk becoming dated in five to ten years.
  2. For the introductory critical reception and cultural/historical context essays, writers should not devote their essays to selective critical approaches or selective contexts. Rather, the introductory critical reception essay should offer readers a comprehensive overview of the body of criticism or comment on the Harlem Renaissance, and the introductory cultural/historical context should consider a variety of contexts in which the topic is commonly situated.

Abstracts between five hundred to one thousand words, a brief biographical statement, and a CV should be submitted by December 31st to:

Christopher Allen Varlack

University of Maryland, Baltimore County

1000 Hilltop Circle

Baltimore, Maryland 21250

Full drafts will also be considered and are encouraged.

Completed first drafts of five thousand words will be expected by March 31, 2015.