Call for Papers for Special Issue of English Language Notes

Claude McKay’s Romance in Marseille

Gary Edward Holcomb and William J. Maxwell, Editors

University of Colorado, Boulder


In February 2020, Claude McKay’s novel Romance in Marseille, completed around 1933, will be published for the first time by Penguin Classics. English Language Notes (ELN) will devote a special issue to commentary on the novel. Much as the publication of Romance in Marseille promises to stretch the categories of Harlem Renaissance and black transnational literatures and cultures, the guest editors hope to use the text as a launching point for new critical discussions of modernism, African American studies, LGBTQ studies, disability studies, and the history of publishing institutions. The editors are especially interested in essays that explore the text’s queering of colonialism, its blackening of disability, its critical examination of Marxist organizing among black dockworkers and merchant sailors, its normalizing of both female and male sex labor, its recasting of the Black Atlantic as a “stowaway” culture of modernity, and related themes.

The editors would be happy to send scholars interested in contributing to the special issue a PDF copy of the complete typescript of Romance in Marseille, housed at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. For the PDF of the novel manuscript, contact Gary Holcomb (for email, see below).

ELN’s critical focus is transhistoricism, and Romance in Marseille is a good candidate for analysis that is not necessarily obliged to traditional historicist constraints. The novel’s pertinence to contemporary critical concerns, synthesized with its transhistorical textual history, speaks volumes to a range of past and present moments.

The following are examples of issues that might be considered:

  • How might the novel’s protracted absenteeism and sudden appearance be read in transhistorical terms?
  • How does disability intersect with questions of race, sexuality, labor, migration, and modernist culture (see Davis, Bending Over Backwards, 2002).
  • How can race and other cultural formations converse with modernism and inform rich readings of Romance’s queer economy, linguistic and national boundary crossings, interdictions against the truncated black male body, Fanonian theories of colonial repression, and beyond?
  • In view of the novel’s stowaway imagery, of one body effectively shipping itself across the Atlantic, how might Romance in Marseille be read in terms of “black abjection” (see Sharpe, In the Wake, 2016)?
  • What can it tell us about the ways in which the sign of the slave ship marks and haunts black life in the diaspora?
  • How does the specter of “the hold” produce ongoing conditions of containment, regulation, and punishment?
  • In view of McKay’s role as architect of Négritude and champion of Bergsonian élan vital, what might the novel reveal about the origins of black literary primitivism as an aesthetic rising in reaction to imperialism (see Etherington, Literary Primitivism, 2018)?
  • What might Romance in Marseille offer to the project of retheorizing humanism, against the Enlightenment grain, in light of the histories of slavery, racism, and colonialism (see Reid-Pharr, Archives of Flesh, 2016)?
  • Can a heterodox rethinking of humanism reveal how Romance in Marseille expose repressive discourses fastened to the black “animal” epidermis?

Essays of twenty- to twenty-five manuscript pages are invited from scholars in all fields. Interested authors should feel free to contact the editors: Gary Holcomb, Ohio University, at, and/or William J. Maxwell, Washington University in St. Louis, at  


Potential contributors should submit an article abstract/proposal by September 1, 2019, though it would be a good idea to contact one or both editors in advance. The completed article is expected by February 1, 2020. Time permitting, editors may share accepted contributions with co-contributors, encouraging authors to hold critical conversations. While the editors invite standard-length, single-author academic articles, we are open to other methods of critical inquiry related to the issue’s theme: position papers, clusters, roundtable discussions, book reviews, interviews, dialogues, and so on.


Essays will undergo peer review. All submissions should adhere to the Chicago-style endnote citation format. Submissions should be uploaded to ELN’s peer-review website:




Call for Papers for ELN Issue:

Indigenous Futures & Medieval Pasts

Tarren Andrews and Tiffany Beechy, co-editors

University of Colorado, Boulder


Across medieval studies, there has been a recent explosion of interest in Indigenous studies and indigeneity, spurred, in part, by the “global medieval” movement and critical race studies, but also by a deep investment in re-imaging the origins of medieval studies. Because Indigenous studies approaches critical race studies with a sense of recovering “what we have always done” from the wreckage of colonization, Indigenous scholars tend to imagine our/their way into a future that recaptures the past, an approach that holds promise for new understandings of the medieval period.  The editors see potential in an approach that views the past not as fons et origo but as inextricably woven into futurity.

Given that Indigenous peoples are among the most underrepresented groups in medieval studies, this engagement with Indigeneity requires a new kind of methodology, one grounded in extra-academic community praxis and dedicated to the ethos of Indigenous studies. In other words, we need to involve actual Indigenous people in our scholarship. To forgo these community-based practices and eschew the ethics attached to them is to view Indigenous studies, or Indigeneity, as merely a critical lens, abstracted from the tangible and lived experiences of (and consequences for) Indigenous scholars and our/their communities. It is the reality of most Indigenous peoples that we/they have to fight every day to be seen, heard, and understood as “present”—more than just relics of the past. There is a potential for reciprocity in the exchange between medieval and Indigenous studies insofar as Indigenous studies creates spaces for medieval studies to re-examine and redefine itself, while medieval studies presents an opportunity for Indigenous scholars to reconsider the political forces of the past that continue to shape all our futures. This special edition, then, asks participants to come together as a cross-cultural community to expand our networks of engagement, our modes of analysis, and our understanding of methodologies to discover the reciprocity at the center of medieval pasts and Indigenous futures.

This special issue of ELN responds to the recent turn toward indigeneity in early medieval studies. Specifically, the issue seeks to create a space of mutuality in which generative conversations can take place across disciplinary boundaries between Indigenous studies and medieval scholars. The co-editors—Tarren Andrews and Tiffany Beechy—ask contributors and respondents to explore the stakes and impacts of partnerships between early medieval and Indigenous studies theories and methodologies. 


This issue asks contributors across all disciplines to consider the following:

  • What is at stake for Indigenous peoples and Indigenous studies when we engage in or with medieval studies?
  • What kind of Indigenous future is gained when the medieval past is Indigenized, seen not as proper to a European lineage but rather as tributary to many people’s histories across the globe?
  • Is Indigeneity a proper category for the medieval period?  Is this a different question in relation to Europe than it is in relation to the rest of the world?
  • What does it mean for medieval studies to be held accountable by contemporary and ancestral communities of Indigenous people whose lives and deaths have created Indigenous studies as we understand it today?
  • Is medieval studies’ current interest in Indigenous studies fleeting? If so, how do we approach Indigenous studies in an effective and ethical way? If not, how do we re-invent our praxis and ethos to account for the vulnerability of our Indigenous partners?
  • In what ways do Indigenous studies allow us to re-imagine, re-encounter, re-contextualize medieval pasts? In what ways does it prevent us from doing so?
  • While benefits to medieval studies might seem rather obvious in this exchange, how does this unlikely pairing create new spaces and new ways of understanding the future of Indigenous studies and for Indigenous communities?
  • What does it mean to radically re-think the discipline and methodology of medieval studies alongside Indigenous studies, especially given the field’s very formation within the nationalist, colonizing projects that have impacted Indigenous communities?
  • For those of us who are Indigenous studies scholars, how do we engage in a field so incredibly different from our own? What evidence do we use? How do we begin to interrogate the early medieval archive?


Essays of twenty to twenty-five manuscript pages are invited from scholars in all fields.

Essays will be reviewed by external readers. All submissions should adhere to the Chicago-style endnote citation format. Please submit double-spaced, 12-point font, .docx files and submissions to our Editorial Manager site: Please omit identifying information from all pages except the cover page, as we use a blind review process.  Please send inquiries regarding this issue to the editors: and

Deadline for submissions is September 1, 2019. 


About the Editors

Tarren Andrews is a PhD student in the English department at the University of Colorado Boulder. She is from the Flathead Indian Reservation, and is a Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes community member of matrilineal Salish descent.

Tiffany Beechy is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Colorado Boulder.





Call for Special Issue Proposals (Open Topic)

English Language Notes

English Language Notes (ELN) is a journal devoted to special topics in all fields of literary and cultural studies. ELN is published twice a year, in April and October.  Since its founding in 1963, English Language Notes, under the sponsorship of the University of Colorado at Boulder, has provided a respected forum for criticism and scholarship in every field of English studies to a broad audience of academics and general readers. It has been unique both in its breadth of audience and subject matter and in its emphasis on shorter articles of wider interest than typical scholarly writing. The journal is particularly determined to revive and reenergize its traditional commitment to shorter notes, roundtable discussions, collaborative, interdisciplinary, and transhistorical work and all forms of scholarly innovation.

Winner of the Council of Editors of Learned Journals Phoenix Award in 2008, ELN has revamped its content to produce a unique forum for cutting-edge debate and exchange among leading figures in the field.  Beginning in Spring 2018, ELN is published by Duke Journals, in print form and online at Duke Journals website and Project Muse.

English Language Notes is accepting special issue proposals, beginning with the 59.1 (April 2021) issue.  Please include a rationale for the proposed topic, CV for each editor (if you are collaborating), and an overview of possible contributors and clusters, and send it to our Senior Editor, Nan Goodman @ by October 15, 2019.  Please also write with any questions.

Our journal is peer-reviewed and the production process at Duke UP requires that all deadlines be met. All special issues will be available through Project Muse, Duke UP Journals website, and in print.   All proposals will be reviewed and approved by the ELN editorial collective. For more information, see