Visions of Black Womanhood in American Culture

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Call for Papers
December 31, 2017
United States
Subject Fields: 
Humanities, Popular Culture Studies, Race Studies, Women's & Gender History / Studies, Cultural History / Studies

Visions of Black Womanhood in American Culture

It is hard to believe that almost thirty years after Hortense Spillers declared in “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe “that she was a marked woman whose blackness fuels the rhetorical currency of our nation’s cultural treasury,” we are confronted yet again with a new set of womanly profiles in American culture that expose just how invested America is in characterizing the controlling images of black womanhood. Whether it is Annalise Keating in How to Get Away with Murder, Henrietta Lacks in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Beyoncé’ in the L’Oréal commercials, or First Lady Michelle Obama in the White House—we see fragments of the Sapphire or Jezebel of old, the Mammy/Matriarch figures re-engineered, and we are still searching for the outline of black women who, in performing these hyper-visible roles, in excesses of the flesh, speak a simple truth of black female identity that is more complex—indeed richer—than the historical images of eons ago.

We welcome essays on black women from a wide range of disciplinary fields related to American cultural studies, but not limited to media studies, film, art, literature, history, sociology, and music. Possible topics include, black female sexuality, black motherhood, black women’s beauty culture, black colorism in print and visual media, black women’s love relationships, among other topics. These essays should explore the fertile ground between the figurative and the literal bodies of black women—exploring the links between our visual history and culture, and the creative ways black women explore—and have challenged—the weight of coded identities in these histories. The goal is to create a dynamic issue that teases out the contemporary undercurrents and subtleties of a full range of black women’s identities both as a spiritual narrative, and a physical and visual one.

For this issue, we are accepting original scholarly essays, 15-25 pages in length. Please use MLA style using in-text citations with author’s name and page number. Endnotes and works cited should appear at the end of the paper. In light of space limitations, please avoid excessive use of endnotes. This issue will be edited by Carol E. Henderson ( Please direct all questions to her.

The deadline for submission is December 31, 2017. The issue will be published in March 2019.

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