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The long-awaited publication of Gayl Jones’s epic novel Palmares (2021) has been heralded as the author’s return to the literary world following a two-decade absence. Indeed, Jones’s career has been repeatedly framed in terms of Lazarus-like disappearance and resurrection. But how much of Jones’s supposed “disappearance” is less a historical fact and more a symptom of her works’ exceedingly uneven reception? In other words, to what extent did she disappear, and to what extent have we as readers, critics, and scholars made her disappear? Or, to what extent has her work been disappeared?
This Post45: Contemporaries cluster takes this lopsided reception—whereby novels like Corregidora are widely read, taught, and studied while several of Jones’s works of fiction, poetry, and drama remain obscure or out of print—as an opportunity for two broad interventions: first, to reframe the arc of Jones’s career not as a story of death and resurrection but instead as a longstanding project peripheralized by predominant protocols of reception; and second, to refocus attention on Jones’s lesser-studied works like Chile Woman (1974) and Xarque and Other Poems (1985) in light of the release of Palmares and several additional volumes to be published by Beacon Press over the next year.
Some possible topics for pitches include, but are not limited to:
Jones and Afro-Latin America, especially Afro-Brazil (Corregidora, Xarque, Song for Anninho, The Hermit-Woman, Palmares) and Afro-Mexico (The Hermit-Woman, Mosquito)
Book-historical and print-cultural perspectives on Jones’s work and reception: publications with Lotus Press; periodical publications; relationship with Beacon Press
Jones’s Palmares saga: Xarque, Song for Anninho and Song for Almeyda, Palmares
Jones’s unpublished writings or archival materials, especially theatrical work (Chile Woman, African Expressionism, Corrida de Gallo)
Jones in/and Germany: The Healing and Die Vogelfängerin
Jones in/and translation, language, multilingualism
Jones and künstlerroman: Corregidora, The Birdcatcher
Jones as critic and theorist
Jones and queer love, sex, relation, theory
Jones and mental illness, disability, abnormal psychology: Chile Woman, White Rat, Eva’s Man, The Birdcatcher
Pitches are due on July 1, 2022. We expect accepted pitches to be developed into essays of 3,000-4,000 words; after edits and revisions in the fall of 2022, we plan to publish the cluster essays in early 2023.
Contributors to this cluster will be also be invited to join a seminar at the ASAP/13 conference on September 14-17, 2022 in Los Angeles. Due to the conference’s hybrid format, presenters will be able to participate either virtually or in person.
Nicholas Rinehart, Society of Fellows, Dartmouth College (ntrinehart.com)