February 15, 2019
Carol E. Henderson
Vice Provost for Diversity
Professor of English and Africana Studies, University of Delaware
Katherine Clay Bassard declares nearly twenty years ago in her formative text Spiritual Interrogations, that in order to more fully consider the multiple ways Black women have spiritually represented themselves as sacred subjects in African American literature, one must consider a variety of religious traditions that help to shape these religious experiences, including but not limited to Christianity, Islamic, African and neo-African traditional religions, among others. More importantly, the practice of examining black women’s intertextuality (what Bassard terms spiritual interrogation) supports ways of reading that provide a richer understanding of the ways in which the sacred and secular, the spiritual and political serve as lens through which to consider African American female subjectivity in all of its nuanced complexity.
This special issue seeks creative and thoughtful essays that explore the ways in which writers reclaim, reimagine, and in some ways create the black female body in African American literature using the theoretical, social, cultural, and religious frameworks of spirituality and religion. Of key importance to this collection is black women’s agency and self-advocacy—acknowledged and affirmed in prose, poetry, essays, speeches, written plays, or short stories. Whether it is Indigo (Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo) conceiving a world with her dolls that shepherds her through her rite of passage to womanhood, Baby Suggs declaring in her “fixing ceremonies” in the Clearing that “in this here place, we flesh,” (Beloved), Mattie Michael healing herself and other Black women and their communal trauma in her bathing rituals (Women of Brewster Place), or Florence at the altar (Go Tell It On the Mountain), authors have sought to discuss the tensions of a lived and imagined existence pivoting the sacred and secular through concepts such as forgiveness, redemption, political freedom and social liberation, passion, alienation, motherhood, sex, marriage, among others.
If you would like to submit an essay for consideration in this special e-book collection, please follow the special link at the head of this CFP for more information.
Religions is an international, open-access scholarly journal, publishing peer reviewed studies of religious thought and practice. It is indexed in A&HCI (Web of Science), ATLA Religion Database and in SCOPUS, which gave it a Citescore of 0.51 and listed it among the top 6% of the 371 religious studies journals SCOPUS surveyed in 2016. PDF downloads per month = 59,700+/