Call for Submissions: Early Modern Black Studies: A Critical Anthology

Cassander Smith's picture
Call for Publications
January 31, 2016
Subject Fields: 
African American History / Studies, American History / Studies, Black History / Studies, Early Modern History and Period Studies, Race Studies

We are seeking submissions for a collection of essays tentatively titled Early Modern Black Studies: A Critical Anthology. Inspired by and modeled after interdisciplinary studies such as Black Queer Studies and Shakesqueer: A Companion to the Works of Shakespeare, this edited volume stages a conversation between two fields—Early Modern Studies and Black Studies—that traditionally have had little to say to each other. This disconnect is the product of current scholarly assumptions about a lack of archival evidence that limits what we can say about those of African descent in earlier historical periods. This proposed volume posits that the limitations are not in the archives but in the methods we have constructed for locating and examining those archives. Our collection, then, seeks to establish productive and provocative conversations about these two seemingly disparate fields. Our goal is to enlist the strategies, methodologies, and insights of Black Studies into the service of Early Modern Studies and vice versa. Ultimately, the overarching scholarly contribution of this critical anthology is to revise current understandings about racial discourse and the cultural contributions of black Africans in early modernity across the globe.

The editors of Early Modern Black Studies seek essays that offer new critical approaches to representations of black Africans and the conceptualization of Blackness in early modern literary works, historical documents, and/or material and visual cultures. We also seek articles that, on the one hand, mobilize corrective interventions to commonly held notions in each of the aforementioned fields and, on the other hand, theorize a synthetic methodology for the Early Modern/Black Studies discursive divide.

Possible paper topics include but are not limited to:

  • Black Studies as method and inquiry
  • The racial contours of early modern studies methods
  • Comparative analysis of Black Studies and Early Modern Studies archives
  • Methodologies of Black Africans and Exploration of the Americas
  • Imperialism and Colonization
  • African slavery across the Sahara and Ocean Studies (Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific)
  • Re-conceptualizations of Paul Gilroy’s Black Atlantic in the 21st century
  • Black Lives Matter in contemporary and historical contexts
  • Medieval understandings of human difference
  • Representations of Africa as a geopolitical and imaginary space, past and present
  • Gender and Sexuality; Black Feminists Studies and Early Modernity; the figure of the mulatta
  • Queer Studies; the queering of Black Studies and Early Modern Studies
  • Critical Race Studies and Early Modernity; Animal Studies and Biopolitics vis-à-vis representations of Blackness

Please send queries and/or an abstract (250-500 words) to,, and by January 31, 2016. The deadline for 5000-7000 word essays from accepted abstracts will be August 15, 2016.

Contact Info: 

Cassander Lavon Smith, PhD
Assistant Professor
The University of Alabama
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0244

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