Critical Insights: Frederick Douglass

Jericho Williams's picture
Call for Papers
October 4, 2019
South Carolina, United States
Subject Fields: 
African American History / Studies, Literature, Religious Studies and Theology, Cultural History / Studies

Call for Papers for Critical Insights: Frederick Douglass (2020)


This is a call for essay proposals for a forthcoming edited collection on Frederick Douglass. This volume will be published in fall 2020 as part of the following subset of Salem Press’s Critical Insights collection:


Designed for high school and undergraduate students, this collection will provide a comprehensive introduction to Frederick Douglass, with a particular focus on literary studies. 


The format of each volume includes:

  • A “biographical” essay (2,000 words) that offers an overview of Frederick Douglass’s life

  • A "historical background" essay (4,000-5,000 words) that addresses how nineteenth-century America influenced Douglass as well as what makes his work relevant to a contemporary audience.

  • A "critical reception" essay (4,000-5,000 words) that reviews the history of critical responses to Douglass's writings, and addresses the major concerns that scholars have identified over the years. This essay should examine the history of criticism of Douglass's work rather than offering a specific critique or perspective.

  • A "critical lens" essay (4,000-5,000 words) that offers a close reading of Douglass's literary works from a particular critical viewpoint (e.g. critical race studies, cultural studies, etc.)

  • A "comparative analysis" essay (4,000-5,000 words) that analyzes Douglass's writings in the light of another (similar or contemporary) author.



The volume will also inlcude ten essays (5,000 words) that will offer critical readings of Douglass's work. Although all proposed topics will be considered, some possibilities include: 

  • Autobiograph(ies)

  • Self-representation and the political self 

  • Critical race studies

  • Douglass and slave narratives

  • Douglass as journalist or editor 

  • The relationship between public speaking and writing

  • Literary reception

  • Douglass’s influence on 20th- and 21st-century writers 

  • Douglass and fame 

  • Douglass and the Holy Bible, Shakespeare, and/or other literary influences 

  • Thematic Approaches (e.g. individualism, literacy, etc.)  

  • Feminism, Transnationalism, Posthumanism, Performance studies, or other critical approaches  

I encourage all proposals related to Douglass’s status as a major literary figure, and welcome any questions or inquiries. 

If you are interested in contributing to this project, please submit an abstract of approximately 250-350 words and a brief CV to Jericho Williams ( by Friday, October 4th. Selected authors will be notified by Friday, October 25th, and essays will be due on Friday, February 14th. For accepted essays, each contributor will receive a $250 honorarium.

Contact Info: 

Jericho Williams 

Professor of English 

Spartanburg Methodist College

Contact Email: