The Gender Issue in Stage and Screen Adaptations of Richard Wright’s Literary Works

Tara Green's picture
Call for Papers
August 2, 2021
United States
Subject Fields: 
Film and Film History, Literature, Sexuality Studies, Theatre & Performance History / Studies, Women's & Gender History / Studies

Call for Submission in Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender, and the Black International

The Gender Issue in Stage and Screen Adaptations of Richard Wright’s Literary Works


Palimpsest invites submissions that focus on gender in stage and screen adaptations of Richard Wright’s literary works.  Adaptations of Wright’s work began almost immediately after his first important work Native Son sold more than 250,000 copies within three weeks of its publication in March of 1940.  One year after its publication Orson Welles and John Houseman’s Mercury Theater mounted a production of Native Son, adapted by Wright and Paul Green and starring Canada Lee for New York’s Broadway stage. Three film adaptations have been made of Native Son—one in Argentina in 1951 with Wright himself as Bigger Thomas; another in 1986 in which Oprah Winfrey portrayed Bigger’s mother; and most recently in 2019 with a screenplay by Pulitzer prize winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks and directed by the conceptual artist Rashid Johnson.  In addition, theater companies and independent filmmakers in the US and internationally have adapted works written by Wright.


Gender has always been a source of consternation and debate about Wright’s work.  Part of the notoriety that followed Native Son were accusations of misogyny posited by notable Black feminist scholars in the 1980s. Years after the publication of Native Son, we learned that editors excised sections of Native Son to make Bigger appear more heterosexual, and his masculinity less deviant.


Our focus in this call is meant to reflect gender studies and its intersection with performance.  Gender studies is attentive to the construction, articulation, and performance of gender identities and their intersections with other predominant social categories such as social class, race, ethnicity, and/or nationality.  Some of the most important insights about these intersections that we wish to continue in this volume are from diverse disciplinary and analytical perspectives including women’s studies, Black feminist studies, queer studies, African American/Black studies, global Black studies,  disability studies, and the recently forming Black male studies. We seek for publication consideration essays, commentary, as well as interviews with playwrights and screenplay writers, and directors of Wright productions.


Suggested topics include:

-- Representations of women and men and their intersection with race in adaptations of Native Son

-- The treatment of homosociality, male bonding, and patriarchy in adaptations

-- Gender in adaptations of “lesser known” Richard Wright works for stage and screen, e.g “Long Black Song”

--Black feminist critiques of screen versions of Native Son

-- Reception of performances of Wright in international and global contexts

-- Genre and gender in adaptations (e.g., film noir, horror, satire)

-- Queer and queer of color critiques of screen versions of Native Son or other adaptations of his work

-- Disability studies approaches to screen versions of Native Son

-- Comparative studies that emphasize gender in adaptations of Native Son with other works for screen and stage


Please submit a 200-300 word proposal by August 2, 2021 that includes your name and email address.  Full essays for accepted proposals are due by February 7, 2022.  All submissions should not exceed 7,000 words and must use Chicago Style.  Please see journal guidelines for more on the submission policy:

Contact Info: 

Dr.Dr. Charles I. Nero and Dr. Tara T. Green