African American Review: Black Literature+: African American Literature in Dialogue with the Other Arts

Due Date: 12-15-2025

This special issue will examine the rich interplay between African American literature and the other arts. As a field, African American literary studies has long embraced interdisciplinarity. Yet there is still more work to be done to understand fully the histories and aesthetics of African American literature’s ties to other art forms. In particular, the still-dominant paradigm is to stress Black literature’s debt to music, though recent scholars have begun mapping African American literature’s entanglement with other mediums, such as visual art (e.g., Stephen Best, Evie Shockley), architecture (e.g., Adrienne Brown), film (e.g., Pardis Dabashi, Autumn Womack), and photography (e.g., Sara Blair, Miriam Thaggert). Expanding on such methodological approaches, this issue encourages contributors to consider African American literature’s relationship with a broad repertoire of arts that might include photography, film, television, painting, sculpture, installation art, video games, visual design, architecture, dance, performance, quilting, or crafts.

This issue will take an expansive historical approach. We welcome contributions about literature and art from any period ranging from the eighteenth to the twenty-first centuries. By doing so, we hope to trace the historical interplay between African American literature and other arts and to engage with questions like the following: How might emphasizing cross-arts constellations shift our conceptions of literary history and periodization? How have broader artistic movements and histories shaped literary styles, genres, practices, and ambitions? What logics of connection define the links between literature and the other arts? Conversely, in what ways does medium specificity divide literature from the other arts? To what extent have technological changes in fields like film, television, and photography affected literary production? And what methods might scholars productively use to think about literature and literary cultures together with the other arts?

Contributors may focus on specific case studies, such as assessing how individual literary texts or authors engage with different art forms, or how artists in other fields engage with literature. Or contributors may choose to foreground broader methodological or theoretical questions. We likewise welcome new approaches to Black print culture and book history studies; the use of coterie studies and a focus on artistic and social networks; or the construction of larger institutional histories of, for example, higher education, the publishing industry, museums, and so on. Regardless of contributors’ methodological approaches, this issue ultimately invites contributors to read anew for the themes, histories, and styles that link African American literature with the wider artistic world.

Proposals should include an abstract of approximately 300 words and a short bio. All proposals must be submitted no later than 15 June 2024 to guest editors Brittney Michelle Edmonds and Hayley O’Malley. Contributors will be notified in early July. Article drafts will be due by 15 December 2024 and then will be sent out for anonymous peer review. Final articles must be between 6,000–8,500 words (excluding notes and bibliography). Please feel free to reach out to the guest editors with any questions.