African American Review

A publication of Johns Hopkins University Press

African American Review is a scholarly aggregation of insightful essays on African American literature, theatre, film, the visual arts, and culture; interviews; poetry; fiction; and book reviews. Published quarterly, AAR has featured renowned writers and cultural critics including Trudier Harris, Arnold Rampersad, Hortense Spillers, Amiri Baraka, Cyrus Cassells, Rita Dove, Charles Johnson, Cheryl Wall, and Toni Morrison. The official publication of LLC African American of the Modern Language Association, AAR fosters a vigorous conversation among writers and scholars in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.


Notice to Our Readers, Authors, and Subscribers:

African American Review has deleted its account on Twitter. We reach this decision having no doubt that Twitter's new chief of executive operations cherishes free speech. We do regret keenly, however, the wanton disregard he demonstrates for that which is also responsible speech. We also regret his decision to fire cavalierly many thousands of workers in what is, and will likely be for the foreseeable future, a critically unstable economy.

The site's now more bald contempt not only for workers, but also for the kind of thoughtful and generative discourse suitable for a broader marketplace of ideas, only fuels an already noxious political and social climate. We will not consent to be a party to such naked irresponsibility, either now or at any time to come.

Please check out our new page on Mastodon, a decentralized, nonprofit social network, at And continue to visit this page for further updates.

--The Editors

AAR Annual Awards

2022 Darwin T. Turner Award - best essay overall

Winner: Marina Magloire (University of Miami), "'Some Damn Body': Black Feminist Embodiment in the Spirit Writing of Lucille Clifton" (Vol 55.4)

Mention of Honor: Ben Fried (Cornell University), "James Baldwin's Readers: White Innocence and the Reception of 'Letter from a Region in My Mind'" (Vol 55.1)

2022 Joe Weixlmann Prize - best essay among this year's selection in twentieth- and twenty-first-century African American literature and culture

Winner: Kimberly Mack (University of Toledo), "Love Story Black and the Third Plane Novel" (Vol 55.2-3)

Mention of Honor: Emily Ruth Rutter (Ball State University), "Baseball and Beloved Community in the Memoirs and Poetry of E. Ethelbert Miller" (Vol 55.4)

Call for Papers & Other Announcements

CFP: Black Literature+: African American Literature in Dialogue with the Other Arts, a special issue of African American Review

In 2004, in a speech about the painter Romare Bearden, Toni Morrison argued that critics must appreciate the “liquidity” between Black art forms, the “resonances, alignments, the connections, the inter-genre sources of African American art… the resounding aesthetic dialogue among artists.” “Locating instances of this liquidity,” Morrison explained, “is vital if African American art is to be understood for the complex work that it is and for the deep meaning it contains.”

In that spirit, this special issue will examine the rich interplay between African American literature and the other arts. As a field, African American literary studies has long embraced interdisciplinarity. Yet there is still more work to be done to understand fully the histories and aesthetics of African American literature’s ties to other artforms. In particular, the still-dominant paradigm is to stress Black literature’s debt to music, although recent scholars have begun mapping African American literature’s entanglement with other mediums, such as visual art (e.g., Stephen Best, Evie Shockley), architecture (e.g., Adrienne Brown), film (e.g., Pardis Dabashi, Autumn Womack), and photography (e.g., Sara Blair, Miriam Thaggert). Expanding on such methodological approaches, this issue encourages contributors to consider African American literature’s relationship with a broad repertoire of arts that might include: photography, film, television, painting, sculpture, installation art, video games, visual design, architecture, dance, performance, quilting, or crafts.

This issue will take an expansive historical approach. We welcome contributions about literature and art from any period ranging from the eighteenth to the twenty-first centuries. By doing so, we hope to trace the historical interplay between African American literature and the other arts and to engage with questions like the following: How might emphasizing cross-arts constellations shift our conceptions of literary history and periodization? How have broader artistic movements and histories shaped literary styles, genres, practices, and ambitions? What logics of connection—like Morrison’s theory of “liquidity”—define the links between literature and the other arts? Conversely, in what ways does medium specificity—such as unique aesthetics, economics, or production and distribution models—divide literature from the other arts? To what extent have technological changes in fields like film, television, and photography affected literary production? And what methods might scholars productively use to think about literature and literary cultures together with the other arts?

Contributors may focus on specific case studies, such as assessing how individual literary texts or authors engage with different artforms, or how artists in other fields engage with literature. Or contributors may choose to foreground broader methodological or theoretical questions. We likewise welcome new approaches to Black print culture and book history studies; the use of coterie studies and a focus on artistic and social networks; or the construction of larger institutional histories of, for example, higher education, the publishing industry, museums, etc. Regardless of contributors’ methodological approaches, this issue ultimately invites contributors to read anew for the themes, histories, and styles that link African American literature with the wider artistic world.

Proposals should include an abstract of approximately 300 words and a short bio. All proposals must be submitted no later than 15 June 2024 to guest editors Brittney Michelle Edmonds ( and Hayley O’Malley ( Contributors will be notified in early July. Article drafts will be due by 15 December 2024 and then will be sent out for anonymous peer review. Final articles must be between 6000-8500 words (excluding notes and works cited). Please feel free to reach out to the guest editors with any questions.

Call for Chapters: Post-Soul Afro-Latinidad: A Critical Reader

Post-Soul Afro-Latinidades, a special issue of The Black Scholar 52.1 (2022), and the Post-Soul Afro-Latinidad panel at the 2023 CHI Fellows Symposium at Amherst College brought together scholars who sought to bridge the gap between Latino, African American, and Africana studies. Inspired by the rich print and in-person dialogues between these scholars, we propose developing an edited collection titled Post-Soul Afro-Latinidad: A Critical Reader. This proposed edited collection seeks to assemble an array of critical articles and personal essays that focus on Afro-Latino and Black/African American interculturalism in the post-segregation era. Including expanded versions of the original articles in Post-Soul Afro-Latinidades, we seek chapters for a book manuscript that will put contemporary theories of Afro-Latinidad in conversation with the work of post-soul (and post-Black) theorists and cultural critics. Are the post-soul and Afro-Latinidad conceptually linked or conceptually discrete? Can the lens of the post-soul reveal insights about both Afro-Latinidad and Latinidad that could not be revealed otherwise, and vice versa? In terms of scholarship, teaching, activism, and social cohesion, what do we stand to gain or lose by putting these concepts in conversation with each other? These are the questions that inspired the need for Post-Soul Afro-Latinidad: A Critical Reader. The coeditors of this proposed edited collection invite scholars from a wide range of fields in the humanities and social sciences to contribute chapters that critically explore the relationship between the post-soul and Afro-Latinidad in a wide range of subject areas, including, but not limited to:

Chapter Proposal: Submission Deadline 1 May 2024: The chapter proposal/abstract should be 250-300 words and include a title and 5-6 keywords. It should also include the author’s name, institutional affiliation, institutional email address, and a 75- to 100-word bio. The proposal should explicitly indicate how the author uses the post-soul and Afro-Latinidad as conceptual tools to answer their research questions and examine their topics of analysis. Please submit manuscripts to the coeditors by or before the 1 May 2024 deadline. The coeditors will announce accepted proposals on 1 June 2024.

Chapter Manuscript: Submission Deadline 1 September 2024: The word limit for submissions is 6000-8000 words, inclusive of endnotes and the bibliography. Submit article and essay manuscripts as Microsoft Word files only. Please use the most recent version of the Chicago Manual of Style (endnotes-only format), Times New Roman 12pt font, 1" page margins, and double-spacing for the entire document. Please submit initial manuscripts to the coeditors by or before the 1 September 2024 deadline.

Coeditors Trent Masiki (Worcester Polytechnic Institute) and José I. González (University of Massachusetts-Amherst)

CFP: Plants Beyond Borders

Although they are the most abundant life form on earth, plants have received scant attention from ecocritics until recently. As allies in the rethinking of human exceptionalism and the limits of human conceptions of nation, race, sexuality, disability, and invasion, plants challenge us to reimagine our philosophical and material relationship to the beings which enable each breath we take.

For this edited collection (working title: Plants Beyond Borders) we invite 4,000- to 6,000-word contributions that take an interdisciplinary approach to reimagining and rethinking plants and/or human relationships with plants throughout the Americas. Genres might include but are not limited to literature, performance studies, film studies, and art. This collection comes out of our Critical Plant Studies Modern Language Association panels in 2021 and 2024. It has attracted interest from a university press, and we anticipate publishing through a university press.

Proposals might consider:

Please send proposals (300-500 words) and brief biographies (100 words) to Alicia Carroll (Auburn University) and Courtney Ryan (Lafayette College) by 1 May 2024. Collaborative proposals are welcome, and proposals from BIPOC scholars are encouraged. If accepted, completed chapters of 4,000-6,000 words will be due 2 September 2024.

Job Postings

Assistant Professor of Contemporary African American Literature - University of Memphis

The Department of English at the University of Memphis invites applications for a full-time, tenure-track position in contemporary African American literature with a subspecialty in one or more of the following categories: children’s literature, Afrofuturism, digital humanities, music and literature, queer theory and literature. The position is at the Assistant Professor level beginning August 2024.

This position teaches courses on both the graduate and undergraduate level. The standard teaching load is 3/2 with one course release in the first year, a second pretenure course release, and the possibility of a pretenure professional development release. Other job duties include advising graduate students, keeping an active research agenda, and contributing to departmental and university service. Salary is competitive and based on experience.

The Department of English consists of six undergraduate concentrations (African American literature, applied linguistics, creative writing, literature, professional writing, and TESOL), a variety of MA and PhD programs, and several certificate programs. The department maintains close ties with a wide range of cultural organizations and nonprofits in the region. For this reason, the position is uniquely suited for a candidate interested in community engagement or public-facing scholarship.

Qualifications: Requirements include a PhD in English, Black studies, Africana studies, race and ethnic studies, or related discipline are encouraged to apply. PhD must be in hand or secured before August 2024.

To apply, candidates should visit to submit the following:

Review of applications will begin 15 November 2023.


Zafar Edits African American Review Special Issue

Rafia Zafar, professor of English, African and African American studies and American culture studies at Washington University in St. Louis, has coedited a special issue of African American Review dedicated to pioneering writer, historian and activist Arturo Alfonso Schomburg (1874-1938). Read more here.

Howard University Receives Transformative Gift from Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott

A former pupil of Howard alumna Toni Morrison, Scott's gift marks the largest gift from a single donor in school history. Read more here.

In Memoriam

Gerald Barrax

Camille Billops

James Coleman

James Hatch

John Lewis

Leith Mullings

Julius Scott

Melvin Van Peebles

Maurice Berger

Kamau Brathwaite

Stanley Crouch

bell hooks

Paule Marshall

Sidney Poitier

Greg Tate

Lauren Berlant

Ed Bullins

Ernest Gaines

Randall Kenan

Charles Mills

Gloria Richardson

Desmond Tutu

Cheryl Wall