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Letting Go & Flying High: Pedagogical Remixes and Revisions for the Future of Literary Blackness

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Organizer: Wesley Jacques

Co-Organizer: Ariel Lawrence

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Letting Go & Flying High: Pedagogical Remixes and Revisions for the Future of Literary Blackness

As both a black woman and a modern literary celebrity, Toni Morrison reshaped the ways that this country conceived of what Literature could be aesthetically and achieve politically. Her recent passing grants us the opportunity to not only reflect on the immense legacy of her fiction, but also her critical and theoretical work through which she addressed both the presence and erasure of the African Diaspora throughout the American literary tradition. Echoing Morrison’s claim that the “contemplation of black presence” is in fact “central to any understanding of [our] national literature” this panel aims to investigate the legacy of literary blackness both past and present in order to shed light on its futurity. In this panel, we will continue to wrestle with the current state of literary blackness in our current cultural, political, and aesthetic moment.

Therefore, we would like to invite scholars, writers, and educators to contribute research, theory, and even personal anecdotes which aim to evolve the pedagogical conversation on how we as educators can facilitate a deeper and more integrated approach to teaching African American Literature and thinking about Literary Blackness in our a now post-Morrison era.

Papers contributed to this panel should aim to answer the following questions:
1. What are new approaches or readings of Morrison’s work which speak to the futurity of African American Literature inside the classroom and/or beyond?
2. What of Morrison’s legacy as a writer and critic is most important to the contemporary needs and goals of African American Literature?
3. What are new critical approaches to teaching established and canonical African American texts which positions student’s understanding not just in the past, but in the present and/or future?
4. How can we introduce contemporary African American Literature in conversation with established texts in a way that creates meaningful conversations about our evolving definitions of blackness?
5. How can classic and emerging African American literary voices be utilized within and possibly outside of the classroom proper?
6. How do we reshape our understanding of what makes a significant African American “text” by reaching out to underrepresented genres and overlooked artistic mediums?
7. How do we assert student-centered pedagogical approaches to African American Literature in a way that is both intersectional and empathetic?

This panel is not only about theory but pedagogical Praxis, meaning that we hope to hold a significant conversation about not only what we teach but how. While we appreciate theoretical scholarship, we also encourage papers rooted in personal experiences or even speculative approaches which envision pedagogies still in progress. Writing and scholarship which focuses on writers/subjects outside of Morrison also welcome.

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