Calls for Papers: 2021 CLA Convention Special Sessions Print



2021 CLA Special Session Abstract Submission Portal

Submit Abstracts (250-350 words) via the CLA Abstract Submission Portal by January 15, 2021

In Memoriam: Legacy of Literary Scholar Cheryl Wall

The College Language Association invites participants for a special panel in recognition of the life and work of Dr. Cheryl Wall, her scholarly commitment to the critical examination and intellectual celebration of Black women’s writing, her contributions to the study of African American Literature, and her dedication to transformational work within and beyond institutions of Higher Learning.  We are particularly interested in papers and panelists that consider, among other topics:

  • Wall’s scholarly works on the writing of Zora Neale Hurston, the Harlem Renaissance, and traditions in Black Women’s Writing
  • Wall’s commitment to the public celebration of African American arts, as exemplified by her role as the founding board chair of the Crossroads Theater Company, the first Black Theater in the state of New Jersey
  • Wall’s role as a faculty advisor, mentor, colleague, and teacher at Rutgers University, 1972-2019
  • Wall’s institutional work to cultivate diverse environments and curricula, as exemplified in her roles as founder of the Rutgers English Diversity Institute and the Rutgers Institute for Women’s Leadership
  • Wall’s relationship to scholarly contemporaries as well as her impact and influence on succeeding generations of students, literary scholars, University administrators, and colleagues

Coping with Coronavirus: Responses and Reflections on the Pandemic

The College Language Association invites participants for a special panel examining writers’ engagement with the Coronavirus Pandemic. Acknowledging that this is a singular moment that nevertheless highlights the continuities and consistencies in global cultural, social, political, and economic history, this panel will consider how writers have used their work to interrogate the pandemic, its revelations, and its implications. We are particularly interested in panelists who are prepared to discuss, among other topics:

  • The work of public-facing scholarship on Coronavirus, including public essays that reflect on the impact of the pandemic as well as those writings that examine policy and practices across fields and disciplines
  • The role of writers’ intellectual critique of leadership at the national, state, local, and institutional leadership.  In what ways has the pandemic emphasized the necessity of the public intellectual?
  • Form, genre, and tradition in writers’ responses to the pandemic.  How do we see certain traditions--the jeremiad, the polemic, the epistolary, the elegy, etc.--being deployed in this moment?  In what ways does genre inform the ways that writers respond to and reflect upon the importance of this moment?
  • Prophetic writing and the consideration of this pandemic’s potential legacy. How are writers imagining the possible future in the aftermath of the pandemic?
  • Reflections on the social dynamics of quarantine, the performance of identity and “freedom” in public space, politicized resistance to social distancing, and meditations on the role of the state in enforcing health policy.
  • Consideration of the disparate impact of the pandemic on African American, immigrant, lower socioeconomic status, and otherwise marginalized communities

2020 Turning Points in the Black Lives Matter Movement

The College Language Association invites participants for a special panel reflecting on the events of 2020 with respect to their impact on, and implications for, the Black Lives Matter movement.  Though the movement has been evolving since the 2013 creation of the social media hashtag by Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Cullors, a series of events in 2020--including, notably, the profiling of Christian Cooper, and the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd--have had a decided impact on the development and visibility of the movement.  We invite papers and panelists who will help to contextualize the events of 2020, with a particular focus on the activism, articulation, and public reception of the Black Lives Matter movement. Among other topics, panelists are invited to consider:

  • The ways in which “individual/isolated” incidents of 2020 might be contextualized within broader traditions and histories of policing, surveillance, profiling, etc.
  • The particular impact of this compilation of moments in shaping a multi-racial response; climbing the “All Lives Matter” mountain
  • The rhetoric of the “peaceful protest” as movement strategy as well as oppositional critique. Civil disobedience and unrest as viable, or questionable, protest strategies 
  • Legislative responses to Black Lives Matter; tensions and collaborations between federal, state, and local governments
  • 2020 and the re-examination of American policing; expanded calls for defunding and abolition of the police
  • Social distancing and self-isolation in relation to social media campaigns and activism
  • How the global reach of the events has given the movement greater visibility, and the role of racialized transmigrant and marginalized Black communities the world over

2020 Pulitzer Prize Winner Jericho Brown: Reflections and Responses

When Jericho Brown was awarded the 2020 Pulitzer prize in Poetry, he became one of only 7 Black poets, and the first openly gay Black man, to earn the prize. The poet’s third collection, The Tradition, for which Brown was awarded the prize, was described by the judges as “a collection of masterful lyrics that combine delicacy with historical urgency in their loving evocation of bodies vulnerable to hostility and violence.”  The College Language Association invites participants for a special panel dedicated to this Pulitzer-prize winning collection and the body of work produced by Jericho Brown.  Though we welcome a variety of topics, there is special interest in panelists who can address:

  • Jericho Brown’s The Tradition, or previous works Please (2008) or The New Testament (2014)
  • Brown’s engagement with poetic form, structure, and conventions
  • Core themes that resonate throughout Brown’s poetry
  • Brown’s work in relation to previous Pulitzer Prize winning Black poets: Gwendolyn Brooks (1950), Rita Dove (1987), Yusef Komunyakaa (1994), Natasha Tretheway (2007), Tracy K. Smith (2012), Gregory Parlo (2015), and Tyehimba Jess (2017)
  • Brown’s work in relation to Black literary traditions and figures
  • The significance of literary awards, audience, and the politics of race and recognition

Teaching World Languages and Cultures in the COVID Era: Overcoming the Challenges of Remote Learning

The College Language Association invites participants for a special panel examining the impact and use of academic technologies on the delivery of languages and culture courses during the Coronavirus Pandemic. Whether well-versed and practiced in technology or not, language educators have had to succumb to the unprecedented demand of delivering entire minor and major language-specific programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels online. The shift in modality presents a host of challenges--whether technical, methodological or pedagogical--to the new as well as seasoned teachers.  We are particularly interested in panelists who are prepared to discuss, among other topics:

  • Overcoming the challenges of adapting traditional language and culture courses (in terms of design, content, communication, assessment, etc.) to a blended or fully online mode of course delivery.
  • Exploring the pros and cons of teaching languages and cultures through synchronous vs. asynchronous methods of online course delivery.
  • Sharing best practices in the use of web-based educational tools (Poll Everywhere, Mahara, etc.) or videoconference applications (i.e. Webex or Zoom) to conduct individual or group activities, encourage participation, create community, etc.   
  • Leveraging student participation in language courses to deliver a more robust learner-centered online experience.  
  • Musing on how the pressures of inhabiting the virtual academic landscape has impacted, for better or worse, your own pedagogy, teaching style, or philosophy of teaching.
  • Dealing with the rampant use of translation software in the virtual language classroom: strategies to minimize cheating.
  • Examining enrollment numbers in languages and culture programs in the wake of COVID and steps to address programmatic inefficiencies in a new web-based environment.
  • Innovating the study abroad experience during a pandemic through web-based applications and tools. 

Silenced Voices of Africa and the African Diaspora Today

Courageous people from Continental Africa and the African Diaspora have been engaged in battling the legacy of colonialism on multiple fronts for many years, many of whom remain unknown to the wider community beyond the borders of their own countries languages or regions. Who are these writers, intellectuals, activists, etc.? The College Language Association invites participants for a special panel recognizing the work of lesser known or silenced individuals or groups that merit greater visibility for their efforts in Black empowerment, whether it's celebrating Blackness as a counter discourse to national narratives of white supremacy, or boldly confronting powerbrokers in defense of Black lives, sometimes at great risk of losing their own. We welcome papers that address, but are not limited to, the following topics:  

  • Public intellectuals or community leaders who speak truth to power in search for social justice
  • Politicians and lawmakers that aggressively fight for the fair and equal treatment of Black communities
  • Personalities in traditional or new media that have created a virtual presence or have carved out a digital space that affirms Blackness in all spheres of life  
  • Educators who propose and fight to implement alternative critical pedagogies to address educational systems that have chronically failed Black students for generations
  • Artists, directors, playwrights and poets who challenge establishment norms with creative works that expand Black subjectivity, and by extension the imagined communities in which they may flourish