CFP for 2015 Panel: “Women Playwrights of the Harlem Renaissance” (1.15.15)

2015 Society for the Study of American Women Writers Triennial Conference
Panel Proposal/Call for Papers

“Women Playwrights of the Harlem Renaissance”

Taking a cue from the conference theme, “Liminal Spaces, Hybrid Lives,” this panel asks how African American women playwrights worked out questions of liminality and hybridity in dramatic texts during the period now known as the Harlem Renaissance. The Harlem Renaissance itself emerges out of and as a liminal (temporal) space: it comes at the turn of the century and represents, in some interpretations, a movement itself positioned as a kind of “limin” or “threshold” for Black writers and artists to enter into American citizenship through the arena of cultural production. In terms of drama, Soyica Diggs Colbert writes that “attributing value to black folk unites the drama of the Harlem Renaissance” insofar as by writing dramas that stage the value of Black people and Black cultures, the plays of the time sought to transition the position of African Americans within the hierarchies of U.S. social organization.

The panel will expand from here and examine specifically how women playwrights – themselves navigating the hybrid task of what Bernice Johnson Reagan calls “straddling” as people marginalized along lines of both race and sex – thought about, addressed, and highlighted issues of liminality and hybridity during a time which itself was characterized by these two concepts. Potential presenters are encouraged to expand on, challenge, and/or loosen the parameters of the senses of “liminality” and “hybridity” described here.


Some possible topics might include:

-Hybridity of multi-racial characters

-Motherhood and mothering as “liminal” acts

-Blackness as a liminal site of “becoming”

-Liminality in the face of lynching as an identity-fixing violent terror

-queer liminality

-Hybrid dramaturgical techniques

-Harlem Renaissance as “liminal” space

-liminality and hybridity of performance and/or theater

-any other topic on plays written by African American women during the Harlem Renaissance


Please send 250-350 word proposals and a short biographical statement to Jesse Goldberg,, by January 15th, 2015.