“Inheriting Black Studies”

Special Issue CFP (Deadline 2/15/2019)

Souls invites essays, critical book/film/art reviews, and interviews by advanced graduate students and junior faculty that commemorate the 50th anniversary of Black Studies, focusing on the range of intellectual inheritances we have received from this meta-discipline and what those inheritances demand of the future(s) of critical black study.

Special Issue Co-Editors:

Jarvis R. Givens (Harvard University) and Joshua Bennett (Dartmouth College)

This special issue of articles, interviews, and critical book/film/art reviews, collectively titled Inheriting Black Studies will be primarily written and assembled by junior scholars during the 50-year anniversary of the first Black Studies program in the country, established at San Francisco State University (1968). The contributors will engage in a conversation about our intellectual inheritances. We will consider the ways in which our trainings in Black Studies have shaped our specific research motivations and, more importantly, how they have helped us envision new future(s) of critical black study.

Black Studies, although cohered by its commitment to the study of African diasporic peoples, is as diverse in theoretical and methodological breath as are the subjects of its inquiry. There is no one, singular iteration of the field; in this light, each essayist will consider a unique inheritance from the field of Black Studies that has made possible a new line of inquiry — an emergent iteration of critical black engagement, play, and politics. We owe a great deal to the meta-discipline of Black Studies, for the intellectual and political convictions it has stoked within us as thinkers, organizers, artists, and teachers. In developing this special issue on the field’s past, present, and future(s), the editors lean on the late Manning Marable’s conceptualization of Black Studies as an intellectual and political project in his seminal essay, “Black Studies and the Racial Mountain.” Therein, Marable concluded that the work of Black Studies has and should be three-fold: “descriptive” of the lived (material and metaphysical) conditions of black people from their perspective; “corrective” of paradigms that have distorted the reality of black life in the academy and otherwise; and finally, “prescriptive,” in that Black Studies should be moving toward “practical steps of empowerment.” Extending from this framework, the editors invite scholars who align with this intellectual orientation towards Black Studies to contribute their original works. Essays might hone in on specific theories, intellectual figures, and methodological interventions in Black Studies that have been generative in analysis, for challenging hegemonic epistemologies, and that move towards reimagining black people and the terms of our relationship to the modern world.

Inheriting Black Studies invites contributions that are analytical, meditative, and explanatory of a range of topics (i.e., history, performance, political-economy, poetics, and theoretical vistas). Essays should be between 2500 and 6000 words, excluding endnotes and references. It is our hope that this collection will be useful for introductory courses in Black Studies, a companion for scholars that is representative of the canonical range of the field, and (more immediately) part of an ongoing conversation amongst junior scholars who understand ourselves to be the future of Black Studies.

In addition to the contributions by junior scholars, the issue will also include a foreword and afterword by Professor Christina Sharpe (author of In the Wake) and Professor Robert Allen (author of Black Awakening in Capitalist America), respectively, as well as an edited interview with Professor Sylvia Wynter.


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Please address questions to: Marco Roc, Souls Managing Editor, mroc2@uic.edu