Congratulations to Karen E.H. Skinazi and Lori Harrison-Kahan for winning the The Don D. Walker Prize this year for their MELUS essay, “Miriam Michelson’s Yellow Journalism and the Multi-Ethnic West” (2015). Congratulations also to Jaime Javier Rodríguez for winning an Honorable Mention for his MELUS essay, “El ‘Adiós Tejas’ in El Corrido Pensilvanio: Migration, Place, and Politics in South Texas” (2015). The Don D. Walker Prize is sponsored by the Western Literature Association, and is given annually to the best essay published in western American literary studies during the previous calendar year. The essays were nominated by the MELUS editor-in-chief, Gary Totten. Congratulations to all!
MELUS CFP for Special Issue, Twenty-First Century Perspectives on US Ethnic Literatures
MELUS Call for Papers
Special Issue: Twenty-First Century Perspectives on US Ethnic Literatures
(A commemorative special issue in honor of MELUS Emeritus Editor Joseph T. Skerrett, Jr.)
Access pdf document here: melus_ special issue_ skerrett_cfp
Guest Editors: A Yęmisi Jimoh and Angelo Robinson
Deadline for submission: 31 August 2016
Anticipated publication: 2018
With more than a decade and a half into the twenty-first century, the editors of this MELUS special issue seek scholarly papers that can contribute to a critical exploration of the significance of multiethnic literatures in the academy, the nation, and our increasingly connected world. We seek papers that examine or/and theorize US ethnic literatures through engagement with concerns and questions shaping literary study in the twenty-first century. While emphasizing scholarly perspectives informed by our contemporary times, we welcome a broad range of approaches (ranging from theoretical examinations to formal literary structures) and themes in essays covering all periods, all US ethnic literatures, and a variety of genres, including poetry, plays, ethnic travel writing, children’s literature, essay writing, neoslave narratives, short story collections, film, and relatively new genres such as the graphic novel.
This special issue will also commemorate the teaching and scholarship of Joseph T. Skerrett, Jr. in his service to MELUS as president and editor. His influence on the study of US ethnic literatures, particularly in the areas of identity politics, cultural memory, and narrative structure is immense. In celebration of these contributions and more, we seek papers that present forward-thinking approaches to societal gender imperatives, ethnicity, race, class, sexuality, culture, and immigration/citizenship.
With the above objectives in mind, we are looking for submissions that could address, yet are not limited to, these questions:
How do twenty-first century demographics affect conversations on ethnicity and race?
Are there new ways, informed by our twenty-first century moment, to engage literature when considering issues such as race, class, gender, and sexuality?
How has the state of ethnic literatures evolved during this century and how do our pedagogical practices reflect these changes?
What is the landscape of gender debates in US ethnic literatures?
How are ethnic masculinities portrayed in US ethnic literatures?
Who are the emerging multiethnic writers in the United States and what stories are they telling or what different perspectives are they presenting in literature? Consider writers such as Daniel Black, Beth H. Piatote, Bryan Thao Worra, Debra Magpie Earling, Jade Chang, Colson Whitehead, lê thi diem thúy, Linda LeGarde Grover, Mohja Kahf, Claudia Rankine, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Evelina Zuni Lucero, Randall Kenan, Paul Beatty, and others.
Are there new ways to engage the works of established writers such as Richard Wright, Percival Everett, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ernest Gaines, Sherman Alexie, Zora Neale Hurston, Gish Jen, Toni Cade Bambara, Leslie Marmon Silko, Chang-Rae Lee, Toni Morrison, N. Scott Momaday, Walter Mosley, Gerald Vizenor, Phillis Wheatley, Langston Hughes, Vikram Chandra, Ishmael Reed, Maxine Hong Kingston, Alice Walker, David Henry Hwang, Zitkala-Sa, August Wilson, Joy Harjo, Ralph Ellison, Mitsuye Yamada, Jhumpa Lahiri, James Baldwin, Gloria Naylor, Maria Helena Viramontes, Shawn Wong, Louise Erdrich, or other well-known writers?
How have ethnic literary and cultural movements (Afro-futurism, Native American Renaissance, Pinto Poets, and others) progressed during the twenty-first century?
Are there new ideas in ethnic feminisms?
What is the role of popular fiction (mystery, romance, speculative/science fiction, urban fiction, and so forth) in the twenty-first century literary landscape?
How are US ethnic literatures representing sexuality and the ethnic/raced body?
How are citizenship and immigration (e.g. post-911 ethnicity in the US; racial justice; the Confederate flag in South Carolina and across the US) represented in ethnic US literatures?
What role do cultural themes such as food, ethnic gardens, religion, art, music, or travel play in literature by ethnic writers?
What are the new critical issues in multiethnic literary studies resulting from increased literary production by diverse voices in US ethnic literatures, including new immigrant populations that have resulted in an expanded US citizenry and a broadened ethnic literary environment?
The editors welcome theoretical examinations of these questions/topics. Submissions should be between 7,000 and 10,000 words, including notes and works cited, prepared according to the MLA Style Manual 7th edition. Please do not include the author’s name anywhere in the manuscript. Essays under review at other journals or previously published in any form will not be considered for publication in MELUS. Please also include a 250-word abstract with your submission. All submissions will go through MELUS’s normal refereeing process.
Please submit completed papers through the MELUS online manuscript system: https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/melus by 31 August 2016. Also, you will need to indicate in the “custom questions” section of the online submission form that you are responding to the CFP for the special issue on Twenty-First Century Perspectives on US Ethnic Literatures. For questions about the issue, please contact Angelo Robinson (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Yęmisi Jimoh (email@example.com).
Dr. Lori Harrison-Kahan, new MELUS book review editor
We welcome Dr. Lori Harrison-Kahan to the role of book review editor for MELUS and thank Dr. Catherine Fung for her three years of service in this position. Dr. Harrison-Kahan is an Associate Professor of the Practice of English at Boston College. A recipient of the American Studies Association’s Gloria E. Anzaldúa Award for Independent Scholars and Contingent Faculty, she is the author of The White Negress: Literature, Minstrelsy, and the Black-Jewish Imaginary (Rutgers University Press/American Literatures Initiative, 2011), which received an honorable mention for the Society for the Study of American Women Writers Book Award. She is also the co-editor with Josh Lambert of “The Future of Jewish American Literary Studies,” a special issue of MELUS (Summer 2012). Her essays and book reviews have been published in American Jewish History, Callaloo, Cinema Journal, Jewish Social Studies, Journal of American History, Legacy, MELUS, Modern Drama, Modern Fiction Studies, Modern Language Studies, Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, and The James Joyce Quarterly. Her work also appears in the anthologies Styling Texts: Dress and Fashion in Literature; Cultures of Femininity in Modern Fashion; Passing Interest: Racial Passing in U.S. Fiction, Memoirs, Television, and Film, 1990-2010; The Race and Media Reader; The Edinburgh Companion to Modern Jewish Fiction; and the MLA’s Approaches to Teaching the Novels of Nella Larsen. Lori holds an A.B. from Princeton University and a Ph.D. from Columbia University. She has previously taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, Connecticut College, and Brandeis University.
Please send books for review to the following address:
Stokes Hall—4th Floor, South
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
Registration for Charleston 2016
Registration for the 2016 MELUS conference in Charleston is now open! Please click below to register:
MELUS 2018 CFP
May 3-6, 2018, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Proposal Deadline: November 15, 2017
Call for Proposals:
Las Vegas is a transcultural city, rich in racial and ethnic diversity, and UNLV has recently been ranked as the second most diverse college campus in the nation. As one of the last major US metropolitan areas built from the ground up in the twentieth-century, Las Vegas is also a transformative and transient city in the American Southwest, where issues of mobility are constantly negotiated and identities are reimagined.
We welcome proposals for individual papers and panels on, but not limited to, the broad spectrum of transcultural issues in multi-ethnic literature. Considering the concept of “trans” as relating to that which moves across, beyond, or through, or which enacts a change, topics might include the following:
- Transamerican and hemispheric collaborations and tensions in multi-ethnic texts
- Transnational and transhistorical dimensions of the multi-ethnic West
- Transformative landscapes and spaces, including, among others, deserts, cities, highways, and borderlands, and in relation to issues of indigenous sovereignty and land claims
- Transience and permanence in migrant, immigrant, refugee, and diasporic experience, and in the context of debates about citizenship and borders
- Transgender and LGBQ identities and experience in multi-ethnic literature and culture
- Transcultural literary representations of popular culture and the entertainment industry
- Transvestism, performativity, and spectacles of gender and sexuality
- Transportation, transit, and mobility in the multi-ethnic West
- Transatlantic routes, identities, and experiences in multi-ethnic literature, including economic and technological considerations
- Transformations in the definitions, status, and criticism of multi-ethnic US literature, and in relation to indigenous and national literary traditions
- Translation and multilingualism in multi-ethnic texts
- Transversing, transgressing, and experimenting with forms and genres, including, but not limited to, film, graphic narratives, spoken word poetry, and multi-genre works
Please send you proposals by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Of course, we also welcome proposals on all aspects of multi-ethnic US literature. More information about housing and guest speakers will be available soon. Please contact Gary Totten (email@example.com) with any questions. We hope to see you in Vegas in 2018!
MELUS Panels at ALA ’16 and MLA ’17
Call for Papers for Two MELUS panels for MLA 2017, January 5-8, 2017, Philadelphia, PA
Submission Deadline: March 27, 2016.
We invite colleagues to submit individual paper abstracts to the two following MELUS panels for the MLA (Modern Language Association) 2017 Convention on Jan. 5-8, 2017 in Philadelphia, PA:
1. “Ecocritical Engagements with American Multiethnic Literature”
This is a MELUS panel.
How do multiethnic literatures give shape to their narratives from an ecocritical perspective? How do ecocritical takes on multiethnic American literature inform our understanding of American literature writ large? Interdisciplinary approaches are welcome. Brief abstract and 1-page CV to Christopher González (Chris.Gonzalez@tamuc.edu) by Mar. 27, 2016.
2. “Multiethnic Voices in Graphic Medicine”
This is a MELUS panel.
How is graphic medicine informed by multiethnic literary approaches? How do such graphic narratives grapple simultaneously with illness and ethnicity? Interdisciplinary approaches are welcome. Brief abstract and 1-page CV to Christopher González (Chris.Gonzalez@tamuc.edu) by Mar. 27, 2016.
In your abstract, please include your full contact information: name, rank, email, institutional affiliation, which panel you submit your abstract to, and whether you request AV equipment. All panelists must be current members of MLA and MELUS in order for the abstracts to be accepted and to present in these two MELUS panels at the MLA 2017 convention. Thank you very much.
Call for Papers for 2 MELUS panels for ALA 2016,May 26-29, 2016, San Francisco, CA
Submission Deadline: January 25, 2016.
We invite individual paper abstracts for the two following MELUS panels for ALA (American Literature Association) 2016 conference on May 26-29, 2016, in San Francisco, CA:
- Race and Ethnicity in Graphic Narratives. How are the motifs, tropes, and themes of race and ethnicity narrated in one or more American multiethnic (African American, Asian American, Latino/a American, Jewish American, Italian American, Arab American, American Indian, etc.) graphic novels, comics, or sequential storytelling in general? Intersectional engagements with gender, class, sexuality and culture in graphic narratives are also welcome.
- Ethnofuturism in American Literature. How are conceptions and representations of race and ethnicity articulated in American speculative fiction? What do such examples of Ethnofuturism reveal about race and ethnicity in the United States? How have such authors as Ruth Ozeki, Sherman Alexie, Gerald Vizenor, Junot Díaz, Simon J. Ortiz, Karen Tei Yamashita, Toni Cade Bambara, Seth Graham Jones, Octavia Butler, Samuel R. Delany and others helped shape Ethnofuturism in the United States?
Please submit your individual paper abstract of fewer than 250 words in Microsoft Word and a 1-page CV to Prof. Christopher González, MELUS Program Chair, at Chris.Gonzalez@tamuc.edu by Jan. 25, 2016. In your abstract please include your full contact information: your name, rank, institutional affiliation, email, the panel to which you are submitting, and whether you request AV equipment. Due to the high cost of AV equipment, we cannot guarantee that American Literature Association will honor all AV requests. All panelists must be current members of MELUS in order to present in these two MELUS panels in ALA 2016.
The MELUS Elections for the next Executive Committee (2015-2018) are taking place the first week of December through December 31, 2014. Please look for an email with the SurveyMonkey link to your ballot. Voting must be completed by December 31. If you do not receive a ballot via email, please contact the Election Committee: Christa Baiada firstname.lastname@example.org and JoAnne Ruvoli email@example.com.
Candidate statements can be found below. For a description of particular duties of each office, see the MELUS Constitution.
Joseph Kraus, University of Scranton
I’ve been a MELUS member since 1999 when I first published in the journal, and I have missed only one conference since 2001. The Society has been my academic home for the last 15 years, the place where I have incubated most of my scholarship, but that’s only the start of it. I have also found sympathy, perspective, and advice as a writer, a teacher, and someone negotiating a career in academia. I have tried to give back; I co-organized the 2010 Conference in Scranton, served as an election coordinator three years ago, and contributed to the Best Essay awards committee for the last two years. Still, I feel I owe MELUS more, and I hope I can balance my account by helping the organization be for others what it has been for me. As president, my chief responsibility would be the long-range work of securing host universities for future conferences, and I like to think I have already begun that challenge through the relationships I have cultivated in my years in the Society. More broadly, I would want as president to ensure that we continue our shared work in the spirit Katherine Newman first proposed it: to recognize that the study of multiple ethnic experiences calls on us to recognize multiple strategies and multiple perspectives. We have to remain open not just to new voices – both new authors to study and new colleagues to undertake that study – but to new critical approaches and new structures of representation.
Christopher Gonzalez, Texas A&M University-Commerce
An Assistant Professor of English at Texas A&M University-Commerce, I teach diverse literatures of the United States across a variety of media forms. I have been an active and participating member of MELUS since 2007. I was the MELUS Graduate Student Representative from 2009-2012, and I have attended every MELUS conference since I first became a member. I cannot imagine my career without thinking of the robust MELUS community of amiable and cutting-edge scholars who have guided me along the way. As Program Chair, I will continue the excellent work of my predecessors in organizing the MELUS conference as well as MELUS-sponsored panels at the MLA Convention and the ALA Conference. If elected, I will work diligently to uphold and to further the function of MELUS as the gold-standard for scholarship on and teaching of multiethnic literatures of the United States. I am proud of my relationship with such an excellent organization as MELUS. It has been of such value to me in my development as a teacher and scholar, and I welcome the chance to take a larger role in the organization. I would be most honored by your vote.
Anastasia Turner Lin, University of North Georgia
As an active and enthusiastic member of MELUS for the last 5 years, I am eager to further engage in the MELUS community. To that end, I would like to capitalize on my administrative skills by serving as Secretary of MELUS. As the former Assistant Director of Honors at the newly consolidated University of North Georgia, I worked collaboratively to re-envision the Honors program at my campus. Through numerous meetings with stakeholders across 4 campuses, I aided the development of a much more robust Honors community. I now serve as the Assistant Dean of Student Research and Scholarship at UNG. In this post, I coordinate the initiatives of our Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities. These duties include organizing faculty presentations, supporting our student research conference, and directing two separate competitive funding programs for faculty/student collaborative research. My ability to work cooperatively with representatives from different organizations will serve me well as Secretary of MELUS. My vision for this position is to use my communication and team work skills to assist my fellow officers direct the future growth of MELUS.
Jackie K. White, Lewis University
I would like to serve MELUS in the position of secretary, build on the successes of past Boards, and share with others the work of our organization. I have held a similar role on several college and university committees, being the lead writer of final reports (Diversity Hiring Task Force, Online Student Evaluations, and, most recently, the drafter of several memos sent on behalf of the Chairs’ committee) and the driving force for recruitment in the English Department for which I was elected Chair, pre-tenure. In addition, I have expert organizational skills, having conducted and written the report for the Department’s last Program Review and as the lead facilitator of the Committee for Latino Scholarly and Student Events, altogether honing my expertise in scheduling, networking both internally and externally, collaboration and consensus building, and communicating efficiently and effectively. I have been a fairly active member of MELUS for 8 years, having presented on several panels and having been part of the MELUS panel on Latino/a new directions for ALA, as well. Collegial evaluations note that I am reliable, dedicated, passionate about follow-through, and fun to work with, thus I will seek the mentorship of previous secretaries so as to better support the new Board and all of the members (and future members!) of MELUS.
Kim Long, Delaware Valley College
I respectfully ask for your support to continue as the MELUS treasurer for another term. The position has changed substantially since I first assumed it, moving from a simple position of managing the checking account (taking membership checks and occasionally paying out some expenses for conferences and events) to managing the organization’s comprehensive financial responsibilities. These include investments, tax returns, and wire transfers (necessary because of relationship with Oxford University Press). While as treasurer, I also manage the resources associated with technology, such as the website, and, in fact, I was the one who first secured the melus.org<http://melus.org> domain and set up the first social media for organization. While the content responsibilities have now shifted to the Membership and Media Chair, I still am able to assist with website updates and postings as necessary.
With consistent turnover in the Executive Board in many other positions, including the editor for this term, I believe that my organizational memory has been valuable to MELUS’s operations. Also, because MELUS has some long-term investments and a more complex financial structure, my particular background, skills, and experiences make me unusually suited for this position. As a dean who oversees a diverse group of disciplines, I have respect and understanding of business practices and technology while remaining grounded in my literary scholarship. Serving MELUS in this way is important to me, and I again ask for your support.
Melissa Dennihy, Queensborough Community College, CUNY
Having served on the MELUS Executive Committee for the past three years in the role of Graduate Student Representative, I have already demonstrated active involvement in and commitment to the society. My past experience on the Executive Committee also means that I have a thorough understanding of the responsibilities of the Membership Chair specifically, and of Executive Committee members generally. Serving on the Executive Committee has also given me a clear sense of MELUS’s goals and values. One of the greatest aspects of MELUS is the sense of intimacy and community our members share. As Membership Chair, I will seek to expand the MELUS membership while also remaining attentive to maintaining our sense of community. I am also committed to providing means for MELUS members to remain in continuous conversation with one another, not just at our annual conferences but also beyond them; to this end, I will strive to make MELUS a more regular presence on social media outlets including Facebook and Twitter. Aside from my experience and past service to the society, my personality itself also makes me a good candidate for Membership Chair: I am organized and task-focused, outgoing and welcoming. I would be delighted by the opportunity to continue to serve the members of our society.
Sherry Johnson, Grand Valley State University
I would like to run for Membership Chair. I have been an active member or MELUS since 2010. Additionally, I have consistently attended and participated in the conference events throughout this time. Throughout my tenure and participation as a member I have witnessed that MELUS provides not only invaluable presentations of important and astute scholarship; it also pays attention to the professionalizing needs of its members. These are some principal reasons that I am invested in the maintenance and growth of this important organization. As the past Director of African and African American Studies at Grand Valley State University I have gained experience maintaining membership logs (for both faculty and students), as well as updating the website. Once I have spent time assessing the way in which maintaining and updating the membership has been done in the past, I can effectively evaluate what has worked well and then devise a plan for best steps in order for us to continue forward movement in meeting current member needs and in recruiting new members. I possess all the organizational and strong communications skills necessary to hold post as Member Chair. Most importantly, however, I am willing to learn all that is needed to continue to build on the strong foundations that make MELUS the organization that it is today.
Cristina Stanciu, Virginia Commonwealth University
I’m an Assistant Professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University, where I teach courses in US Multiethnic and Indigenous Literatures and Critical Theory. In graduate school, I worked for the U of Illinois Press for 1 year, and I was the Assistant Editor of the journal American Literary History (Oxford UP), for 2 years. I have been a MELUS member for several years and have participated in the intellectual life of the organization by presenting papers, organizing roundtables and panels on pedagogy, reviewing for the journal, and publishing in the journal (forthcoming, summer 2015). Karen Skinazi’s shoes will be pretty hard to fill, but I will do my best to continue the exceptional work she has done as Membership Chair, from prompt updates to an increased visibility on social media, new fabulous website, and a sense of camaraderie among members. I would like to continue this work and maintain the organization’s visibility on social media (especially the visible Facebook page), and include more participants in the in the Fb MELUS Bulletin board. I would also like to facilitate forums for group member discussion—from issues of Pedagogy, where many members can participate, to more specialized discussions on pressing issues in U.S. Multiethnic and Indigenous studies. To that end, I would like to encourage members to publicize their work (published and forthcoming) and to share resources with the other members (from fellowship opportunities, to national and international grants). I hope to use my charm and networking skills to attract new members, and will do my best to create opportunities for MELUS members to be involved in the intellectual life of the organization.
Tracy Floreani, Oklahoma City University
As Secretary of MELUS for the past three years I have come to know the workings of the leadership body and the organizational structure, and I look forward to continuing my service to the Society. My goals for the position of Project Chair are to 1) maintain the previous Project Chair’s work on the annual award for outstanding essay in the journal MELUS; 2) update and further develop our pedagogical resources; 3) provide some level of continuity and “institutional memory” for the changing membership of the Executive Council.
Valerie Frazier, College of Charleston
I am an Associate Professor of English at the College of Charleston, where I teach African American, multicultural, and American literatures. I have a long history of advocacy for Ethnic and African American Studies at this institution, petitioning for the first African American studies course at the College of Charleston and designing, seeking curriculum approval, and implementing the first Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States course at the college, as well. I hold a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia and M.P.A. from the College of Charleston and University of South Carolina. My research centers on contemporary African American, postcolonial, and women’s literature. I have articles published in African American Review and CLA Journal. In addition, I am currently working on a book on the critical reception of Gwendolyn Brooks. I am a proud member of MELUS and currently serve as the local host committee chair for the 2016 MELUS conference in Charleston, S.C., March 3-6, 2016. If elected as Special Projects Chair, I am interested in exploring the connections between Ethnic literatures of the United States and photography (such as seen in Leslie Marmon Silko’s Storyteller or bell hooks’ “In Our Glory: Photography and Black Life”). I would encourage developing more MELUS conference panels on photography and Multi-Ethnic literature. In addition, I would make provisions for photographing and archiving images that chronicle the history of MELUS, capturing photographs at all conferences and special MELUS panel sessions. My skill set includes successful grant writing, excellent organizational skills, and a sincere commitment to implementing special projects.
Graduate Student Representative
Amy Gore, University of New Mexico
As a second-year doctoral student at the University of New Mexico specializing in Indigenous literature, multi-ethnic literature is an integral part of my scholarship. My dissertation focuses exclusively on the multi-ethnic literature of the Indigenous Gothic, explicating the ways in which Indigenous writers engage with and create new understandings of the Gothic genre. I seek to represent other graduate students with the same dedication to diversity, serving them as a Graduate Student Representative with MELUS.
I currently serve in leadership roles with a variety of professional organizations. In my master’s degree, I was a founding member of Montana State University’s Native American Studies Graduate Student Council and an active member of the English Graduate Student Association. Most recently in my doctoral program, I proposed, organized, and chaired a panel at the MLA on behalf of the Association for the Study of American Indian Literature (ASAIL).
If elected, I would bring those same leadership skills to MELUS graduate students. As a representative, I would like to build even stronger connections between MELUS and other organizations, centering the MELUS organization as the intellectually vital hub not only for those students interested in multi-ethnic literature but also for those in related fields, such as ASAIL and the Society for the Study of American Women Writers. Because I am already an active member with these organizations and several others, I am eager to promote and serve MELUS in this role and to connect its graduate students with the resources that this networking will bring.
Rachel Luckenbill, Duquesne University
I am a PhD candidate at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA where I am writing my dissertation on four contemporary Native American authors. While I am relatively new to MELUS, my experience at the conference in Oklahoma City convinced me that I want to be part of MELUS’s commitment to encouraging and serving the growing community of multiethnic literature scholars. I would enthusiastically bring to the position of graduate student representative a commitment to multiethnic literature, a joyful appreciation of people and networking, and a track record of service to fellow graduate students.
My experiences have prepared me to recruit new members, organize workshops, and increase online and in-person networking among MELUS graduate students. At Duquesne, I formally mentored three TAs, served as both vice president and graduate studies committee member for the English Graduate Organization, and helped plan a national conference. As an instructional consultant for TAs at Duquesne’s Center for Teaching Excellence I design and facilitate workshops for TA professionalization, create online teaching resources, and consult with graduate students preparing for the job market. I enjoy meeting new people and connecting them to individuals and resources that will be most helpful.
Leah Milne, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
I am a doctoral candidate in my fourth year at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and have been an active member in MELUS since 2011. My dissertation argues that contemporary American authors are mobilizing self-conscious fiction in order to represent ethnic identity as mobile and dynamic, resulting in an understanding of ethnicity as fluidly crossing racial, temporal, and textual lines. My leadership experience includes organizing and chairing panels on multiethnic American and postcolonial literature at conferences such as MELUS, the Southeastern Women’s Studies Association, and the Society for Comparative Literature and the Arts, as well as co-organizing a national conference centered on the issue of writing in the profession. I helped establish a Postcolonial Research Group at my institution where I received my MA, and serve on both the Graduate Studies Committee and the College Writing Committee at my current institution. My teaching experiences include teaching literature and composition courses at UNCG, as well as working as a contingent faculty member at the University of Indianapolis.
In my teaching, service, and scholarship, I strive to stay current in the field and am dedicated to cultivating a supportive, productive community of scholars within my cohort and in my discipline. At past MELUS conferences and MELUS-run panels, I have learned that some of the more pressing questions and concerns brought up by graduate students at these events include concerns about work-life balance, ideas on how to teach multi-ethnic literature, as well as ways for new scholars to make their work more engaging, dynamic, and relevant. If elected, I will organize panels and roundtables to address these various issues. I will also work to increase graduate student involvement on the Facebook page and other social media in order to extend MELUS’s reach and to open up more opportunities for scholarly interactions and collaboration.
Call for Abstracts/Panel Proposals for 2016 MELUS Conference
Call for Papers
March 3-6, 2016, Charleston, South Carolina
College of Charleston
While we invite paper abstracts, and complete panels, workshops, and roundtable proposals on a broad range of topics related to multi-ethnic American literatures of the United States, we especially encourage those that take inspiration from James P. Johnson’s “The Charleston,” the infectious 1923 jazz tune that set Broadway afire in the revue Runnin’ Wild, and became a national sensation. Johnson’s “The Charleston” is said to have been inspired by the rhythms of Charleston dockworkers, and the dance is a performative synthesis of the African juba and jay-bird. The song itself is infused with Habanera and Spanish Tinge beats that speak to its multicultural lineage. “Doing the Charleston” can extend beyond the song, dance, or geographical location connoted by its name; it can involve a performative or theatrical move that constructs and deconstructs racial, gender, sexual, and class identities.
Significantly, 40% -60% of enslaved Africans entering the United States came through the Charleston port, so Charleston served as a nightmarish Ellis Island or homeland for many Africans of the diaspora. Papers for this conference may examine how American ethnic literatures trace this historical passage, showing how the past haunts the present, much like the trace that haunts Joe Trace in Toni Morrison’s Jazz. Papers may explore the foodways of Charleston, rich with seafood, rice, and yams, and how the preparation, as well as the consumption of lowcountry food, becomes a performance of identity construction.
Papers may delve into the works of writers such as Alice Childress, Olaudah Equiano, W.E.B. DuBois, DuBose Heyward, Langston Hughes, Julie Dash, Toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor, and Josephine Humphries, all who have “done the Charleston,” enacting performances of racial, gender, sexual, and class identities in their works, sometimes with the Charleston lowcountry as a backdrop.
Multicultural Charleston History
Founded in 1670 at the base of the Ashley and Coopers Rivers, Charleston is a city with deep multicultural roots. The names of Native American tribes remain inscribed on the lowcountry landscape: Wando, Yemassee, Sewee, Kiawah, Edisto, Combahee, and Coosaw. The Charleston lowcountry is the home of the Stono and Denmark Vesey revolts.The history is inextricably linked to the environmental and agricultural landscape of the area: rice, cotton, and indigo, in particular, are elemental parts of the city’s history.
The Gullah Geechee culture of the South Carolina and Georgia Sea Islands is a vibrant part of Charleston’s heritage. Gullah peoples, descendants of slaves from West African countries such as Sierra Leone, The Gambia, and Ghana, were able to maintain vestiges of their culture, such as the Gullah language, an amalgamation of African, French, and English languages. World renowned artist Jonathan Green celebrates this vibrant Gullah culture through his beautiful paintings.
Sephardic Jewish settlers came to Charleston from Europe in the 17th century, and a provision was made for them in the charter of the Carolinas of 1660, with emphasis on liberty of conscience for “Jews, heathens, and dissenters.” Until the 1830’s, Charleston had the biggest and wealthiest population of Jews in the North America. Today, Charleston remains the number one tourist destination in the country, largely due to the rich legacy of its multicultural peoples.
Deadline for abstracts and proposals (250 words in Microsoft Word or rich text format (rtf)): November 15, 2015. Please email proposals and abstracts to Dr. Valerie Frazier, MELUS 2016 Conference Committee Chair (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Announcing New Journal Editor Gary Totten
We are excited to announce that as of July 1, MELUS will have a new journal editor, Gary Totten.
Professor Gary Totten comes to us from North Dakota State University, where he is currently chair of the Department of English and interim head of the Criminal Justice & Political Science Department. Gary is a scholar of 19th and early 20th century US literature. His scholarship has included articles on Native American literature such as Zitkala Sa and indigenous sovereignty as well as an article titled, “Southernizing Travel in the Black Atlantic: Booker T. Washington’s The Man Farthest Down,” published in MELUS in 2007. His current research includes a book on African American travel narratives. Gary Totten’s previous editorial experience includes a special issue on travel writings for the peer-reviewed journal Studies in American Naturalism as well as a special issue of the Edith Wharton Review, also a peer-reviewed journal. He has edited a collection of scholarly essays on Edith Wharton and material culture, and he is a member of the editorial board of the Edith Wharton Review. Gary Totten comes highly recommended by his colleagues and has the confidence of the MELUS Executive Committee that the award winning journal of the MELUS Society is in capable hands.