Call For Essays for Collection on Multicultural American Literature

20 February 2012
Call For Essays for Collection on Multicultural American Literature
Deadline: 16 March 2012

Title: Multicultural Family/Multicultural Community – The Hybridity of the American Experience

Proposals or Papers Due: March 16, 2012
Full-Length Papers Due: August 1, 2012


“Chinese-Americans, when you try to understand what things in you are Chinese, how do you separate what is peculiar to childhood, to poverty, insanities, one family, your mother who marked your growing with stories, from what is Chinese? What is Chinese tradition and what is the movies?” –Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior

Americans who identify with and practice the customs of multiple cultures have been described as “hyphenated.” At the beginning of the 20th century, the term “hyphenated American” was derogatory and used to call into question the political loyalty of naturalized immigrants and their children (suggesting that they were un-American). Yet, the term also conveys the sense of belonging to multiple cultures, one associated with a unique culture of origin, ancestry, ethnic identity, or geographical region and the other with a nation or citizenship. Literary representations of the relationship between the two terms are as varied as the groups they represent. While some prioritize the first or second term, others emphasize the space in between, to insist upon a balance between the two or to express a feeling of being in-between or the inability to participate in either side. As Kingston so eloquently notes, cultural heritage can be a complicated, confusing, even frustrating terrain, especially for those labeled “multicultural.”

We invite proposals for a volume of essays focusing on literature that addresses how cultures in the United States—ethnic, immigrant, religious, regional—form, transform, come apart, experience conflict internally and externally, or find new empowerment through their multicultural identities. What do these things mean for the individual, the larger community, and American identity?

Essays (7,000 words) should engage texts likely to be found on undergraduate syllabi. Themes and ideas might address any of the following:

• Generational perspectives, conflicts and misunderstandings
• Struggles with external acceptance (not being seen as "American")
• Struggles with internal acceptance
• Defining the self
• Intersections with gender
• Intersections with class and socioeconomic factors
• Comparative examinations of these issues
• Multicultural life from the perspective of children
• Multicultural life from the perspective of parents
• How these themes impact the literary form or genre chosen to express them
• How literature may challenge the separateness of cultures

This list is not meant to be exclusive; we welcome other approaches that fit the overarching idea. In addition, we need two essays, 5,000 words each, to contextualize the volume:

• A critical reception piece that surveys major pieces of criticism related to the theme in literature and the major concerns to which critics have attended.
• A cultural and historical context essay that addresses how time period has influenced the development of this theme across different time periods and cultures, as well as what makes it relevant to a contemporary audience.

Please submit proposals by March 16, 2012. Please delineate critical approach along with subject matter. Final essays of approximately 7,000 words will be due August 1, 2012. This volume is under contract with Salem Press. The audience encompasses advanced high school students, undergraduates, and teachers. Essays may address a single work, a single author, a particular culture, or may do comparative work across texts, authors, or cultures.

Email proposals to Dr. Linda Trinh Moser and Dr. Kathryn West, at; We are happy to discuss ideas for the volume in advance of a proposal.


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