Calls for Papers

Calls for Papers

Society for the Study of Southern Literature Conference
June 23-26, 2024
Courtyard by Marriot Beachfront
Gulfport, Mississippi
Theme: “Reconstruction(s)”

The 2024 Society for the Study of Southern Literature (SSSL) Conference will convene in a hybrid format on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, marking the first time the state has played host to the biennial gathering. In “Theories of Time and Space,” Natasha Trethewey imagines a journey to the Coast that involves traversing “the man-made beach, 26 miles of sand // dumped on a mangrove swamp—buried terrain of the past.” Trethewey’s imagery implicitly calls for excavating various coastal formations over time: the vibrant culture of the Biloxi (Siouan for “first people”) that thrived until white settler colonialism took hold; the fight for freedom by the 2nd Louisiana Native Guard, the Union regiment of Black soldiers stationed at Fort Massachusetts on Ship Island during the Civil War; the Civil Rights-era Biloxi wade-ins staged by local protestors demanding equal access to public beaches; and the patterns of environmental degradation, social injustice, and uneven development laid bare by Hurricane Camille and Hurricane Katrina. From this perspective, the Mississippi Gulf Coast is a fitting location to explore this year’s conference theme: “Reconstruction(s).”

The conference theme conjures the historical period when the federal government sent military forces south to restore law and order in the former confederate states (1865-1877). It was a time of drastic political and social changes for the region as formerly enslaved African Americans were granted civil rights to become U.S. citizens. But the transition from slavery to freedom was short-lived in the region as it was “redeemed” to create a “New South” built on the grounds of the past (literal and metaphorical) and the outbreak of violence targeting African Americans marked the nadir by the late-nineteenth century. This tragic era of Reconstruction was devastatingly so for indigenous populations as the federal government  created “civilizing” policies of forced assimilation and allotment policies to take control of tribal lands. What hung in the balance then—citizenship, voting rights, power of national versus state governments, and terrorism—remain so now.

To consider further why reconstruction matters, we only need to think of the challenges we face in our profession—given the social unrest over the past few years, political climate that threatens academic freedom, and a persistent lack of ethnic diversity in southern literary studies. To take a closer look at who we are and what we do as scholars in a field rich with textual diversity, as we continue opening up “southern” and “the South” to become more inclusive, we call for work that investigates various reconstruction(s) of/in southern literature and culture, broadly defined.

In particular, SSSL’s 2024 biennial conference calls for investigations of the reconstruction(s) of a place, people, and literary tradition. How to integrate more fully diverse experiences into our collective identity? Reconstruct the canon? What narratives of belonging reveal about reconstructing the South and “southernness” in the context of turbulent times? We invite critical approaches that historicize and complicate what we think of as “southern literature” today with these topics in mind. The planning committee welcomes proposals for individual papers (300 words) as well as panels and roundtables (500 words). We also invite proposals for alternative formats: “lightning” talks; poster, art, or media displays; writing workshops; or other sessions (500 words). All proposals must include a 100-word biography for each participant. We are committed to developing an inclusive, equitable, and diverse program and urge panel organizers to bear that in mind when planning.

All participant-proposed panels and roundtables must have an open call submitted for publication on the SSSL website and listserv. We also encourage panel organizers to post their CFPs in other venues. Please submit the required open CFP for participant-organized panels and roundtables to as soon as possible but no later than January 12, 2024. You may access the CFPs for those participant-proposed panels on the SSSL website.

We welcome scholars from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds, especially those who may not identify as “southernists,” and we actively encourage the work of graduate, junior, contingent, and independent scholars, who can take advantage of SSSL’s robust Emerging Scholars Organization and travel grant programs.

Please submit all proposals with participant bios to by February 2, 2024

All approaches are welcome. We particularly encourage papers and panels that engage with the conference theme. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Reconstructions of southern literature / southern literary studies (past, present, future; inclusivity and diversity; “Old” and “New” southern studies; questions of scope and scale)
  • Historical fictions / formations / events
  • Texts that portray Indigenous history / culture; acts of indigenous removals and resilient stances in southern literature
  • Depictions of migration and immigration / emigration (regional, national, transnational, diasporic)
  • Representations of disaster and recovery (“natural,” economic)
  • Gothic souths (Southern Gothic, New Black Gothic, Undead Souths)
  • Texts that depict LGBTQIA+ identity formation/activism/history/experience
  • (Post)apocalyptic souths
  • Texts that depict/engage with mass incarceration; police brutality and violence; and inequities in the justice system
  • Texts that depict/engage with social justice (organization, activism, Black Lives Matter)
  • Depictions of climate change, environmental degradation and destruction, and forms of sustainability, survivability, and recovery
  • Archival (re)construction and recovery (traditional or alternative; addressing / redressing omissions and erasures in historical / cultural / public memory)
  • Pedagogy and curriculum / program development (best practices, online / hybrid delivery, southern studies programs, prison education programs, etc.)
  • Representations of modernization and (uneven) development

* For general inquiries about conference plans, check the SSSL for regular updates.

Special Issue of Mississippi Quarterly

Hurricane Katrina at 20: Rethinking the Literary and Cultural Legacies of the Storm 

Guest editors, Courtney George and Judith Livingston (Columbus State University)

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Gulf Coast with catastrophic results for the surrounding communities, who are still recovering today. Almost immediately, journalists, artists, and scholars began producing significant work about Katrina in nearly every discipline and medium—work that has continued, especially as we begin to view the disaster and its circumstances in the context of our current social justice and climate-related struggles. 

With a wealth of new texts emerging about Hurricane Katrina and its effects, as well as a robust repository of creative representations and critical scholarship, this special issue of Mississippi Quarterly aims for a timely consideration of how we might re-think one of the country’s worst natural disasters in the twenty-first century.

Just within the past five years, works like Sarah M. Broom’s memoir The Yellow House, Apple+’s dramatic televisual adaptation of Sheri Fink’s Five Days at Memorial, Edward Buckles, Jr.’s HBO documentary Katrina Babies, the music documentaries Take Me to the River & Jazz Fest, and Andy Horowitz’s Katrina: a History, 1915-2015 have all encouraged new approaches to viewing and re-viewing the historic storm that devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005.  

In addition to these more recent works, there exists a robust repository of creative representations and critical scholarship, in nearly every discipline and medium, ripe for re-visitation in the twenty-first century. For instance, there are representations by well-established writers like Dave Eggers, Kiese Laymon, Natasha Trethewey, and Jesmyn Ward; by acclaimed filmmakers Sharon Linezo Hong, Spike Lee, Tia Lessen & Carl Deal, and Ben Zeitlin; the critical works of The Katrina Bookshelf series (and hosts of other books and articles); and research collections and oral histories at various universities and museums across the nation. 

As an inexhaustive starting place, writers and scholars might analyze the creative and critical work that has emerged from Hurricane Katrina and its consequences in the context of  

  • literature, music, and/or popular culture (including comparative readings of texts)
  • the Anthropocene and/or the environment 
  • social justice movements for racial equity and equality
  • class, gender, and/or sexuality
  • violence (racial, domestic, “slow”) 
  • connections to other global disasters and pandemics
  • technology, science, and medicine
  • disaster capitalism and/or neoliberal exploitation  
  • teaching Hurricane Katrina in any context or educational environment

Please send 300–500-word abstracts, along with brief 100–150-word biographies, to Courtney George & Judith Livingston at before January 15, 2024. If your proposal is accepted, full manuscripts are due in September of 2024. As of now, the issue is set for publication in Fall 2025.

Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha 2024

“Faulknerian Anniversaries”

July 21–25, 2024 — University of Mississippi

     2024 is an anniversary year in Faulkner Studies for two reasons: it marks both the 100th anniversary of The Marble Faun, the author’s first book to see print publication, and the 50th anniversary of the Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha conference, the longest continuously running academic event devoted to the work of an American writer. The dual milestones invite reflection not only about Faulkner’s career (including the role of his understudied narrative poem in launching it) but about the career of Faulkner Studies itself over the past half-century, at this gathering and elsewhere across the profession. We will pursue both goals over five days of keynote lectures and readings, academic panels, teaching sessions, exhibits, tours, and other activities.

      The topic of the conference is open. The program committee welcomes submissions exploring any aspect of Faulkner’s life and writings, or offering re/assessments of significant figures, paradigms, approaches, trends, and opportunities in the study of Faulkner’s work. Comparative approaches to Faulkner’s work are welcome. We especially encourage full panel proposals for 60-minute conference sessions. Such proposals should include a one-page overview of the session topic or theme, followed by 400-500-word abstracts for each of the panel papers to be included. We also welcome individually submitted 400-500-word abstracts for 15-20-minute panel papers. Panel papers consist of approximately 2,500 words and will be considered by the conference program committee for possible expansion and inclusion in the conference volume published by the University Press of Mississippi.

     Submit session proposals and panel paper abstracts by January 31, 2024. Direct all correspondence to Jay Watson, Decisions will be made by March 15, 2024.