MELUS: Black Women’s Literature: Violence and the COVID-19 Moment

Due Date: 07-31-2020

This special issue centers the engagement and interconnection of black women’s literary studies with police and extrajudicial violence and matters highlighted by COVID-19, particularly questions related to reasons why the disease has disproportionately affected black lives in employment and work, income, healthcare, education, and housing. Specifically, this issue explores the following overarching question: How does the work of Paule Marshall, Toni Morrison, and Ntozake Shange speak to contemporary affairs and concerns?

For this special issue, we seek essays that theorize the writers’ work in relation but not limited to the following:

  • Various modes of violence (broadly defined)
  • Anti-Blackness with regard to COVID-19 or police and extrajudicial violence
  • Investigations of structural and systemic racism, human rights, and social justice matters
  • The United States legal system and ideologies around criminality, incarceration, and punishment
  • Representations of class and income inequalities
  • Portrayals of work and labor
  • Delineations of death and mortality, health, and abuse
  • Depictions of generational differences, childhood, and aging and elderhood
  • Ideas around education, disabilities, housing, environmentalism, and philanthropy
  • Considerations of relationships (e.g., family, romantic, friendships), parenting, and foster care
  • Assessments of intraracial and interethnic relations, immigration, and globalization
  • Presentations of gender and sexuality
  • Examinations of folklore, religion and spirituality, music and performance
  • Relevant topics in the children’s literature by these writers

A comparative focus among the writers is encouraged. Essays do not need to address both COVID-19 and police and extrajudicial violence. Essay submissions will be due later in the year, with an anticipated publication date in 2021. They must be 7,000–10,000 words (including notes and works cited). All submissions will go through MELUS’s normal refereeing process, and papers under consideration at other journals or published in any form will not be considered. Please submit 250–300-word abstracts (and any inquiries) by 31 July 2020 to