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Proposed Cluster for Modernism/modernity’s Print Plus Platform


“History,” said James Joyce’s intractable hero Stephen Dedalus, “is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” Stephen was speaking of both his own personal historical situation as well as that of the colonized Irish in general. But in keeping with recent modern discourse seeking to read beyond the more commonly expected boundaries of the field, we also find here the belated African American modernist author James Baldwin who, though radically separated from Stephen by cultural difference, racial heritage and national affiliation, places himself squarely in the same historical relation. “Joyce is right about history being a nightmare—but it may be the nightmare from which no one can awaken,” Baldwin writes. “People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them.” Viewed in the context of an Atlantic world characterized for centuries by conquest and domination, Baldwin here reveals that Stephen’s historical nightmare actually belongs to conquered and conqueror alike: that in conquest, it is not just the conquered who are vanquished, but the conqueror too—though this may go unrecognized, well-camouflaged as it often is by the very fact of having conquered.

In the case of these two modern authors, one black, one white, two circum-Atlantics caught in the same modern web, this problem of history—a specifically circum-Atlantic history, in which questions of culture, language, geography, history and, especially, race customarily take on heightened importance—links their vastly different lived experiences across time and space. Different yet strangely similar in their relation to a complicated history of oppression created by and within the circum-Atlantic and its troubled modernity, the linkage they share opens the door to the discovery of a multitude of other such linkages, and. in particular, to consideration of the meaning of race beyond the body’s material reality, especially as that body has been conceived of as black.

This cluster, “Circum-Atlantics,” seeks essays investigating the idea of race as it can be found in and/or beyond such manifestations in the body, in order to consider more deeply its embeddedness in the social, economic, political, material, cultural, historical and/or linguistic relations of power that made up the circum-Atlantic world, from the modernity of its 15th-century beginnings to its 21st-century realities. Of special interest are essays exploring the idea of race, modernism and/or modernity in ways that move beyond the black/white binary, especially those using a circum-Atlantic perspective engaging the cultures not just of the Americas, but of Europe and/or Africa as well. Of additional interest are essays exploring the ways in which issues of significance to an understanding of race in these contexts may also overlap with those of gender.

Please submit abstracts of no more than 200 words by November 10, 2019, to Cyraina Johnson-Roullier at You will be notified by December 15, 2019 if your proposed essay is accepted for consideration. All accepted essays will be peer-reviewed. Abstracts must be submitted as electronic attachments in Word .docx and must also be accompanied by a brief author bio.

Conference Location: Chicago, United States
Conference Starts: November 10, 2019
Conference Ends: November 10, 2019

CFP Submission Deadline: November 10, 2019

For more information, contact: Cyraina