Atlantic Studies: Global Currents We Invite you to Share your Research

Atlantic Studies

Scholarship on early African American print has developed substantially in the last decade. Major collections like Lara Langer Cohen and Jordan Alexander Stein’s Early African American Print Culture (2012) or George Hutchinson and John K. Young’s Publishing Blackness (2013), along with Eric Gardner’s Black Print Unbound (2015), have sparked new conversations between African American and print culture studies. This scholarship has also enriched prevailing views on Black print from America by moving beyond the authorship paradigm, engaging with questions of “originality.” Scholars such as Joanna Brooks, Frances Smith Foster, Joseph Rezek, Leon Jackson, Teresa Goddu, Meredith McGill, and others have studied an impressive array of print media, materials, and genres, ranging from slave narratives, speeches, and broadsides to novels, poems, and engravings. In a landmark special issue for American Periodicals in 2015, Eric Gardner and Joycelyn Moody foregrounded the relevance of serial media and of newspapers and magazines.

Our proposed special issue will contribute to and expand upon this early ground-breaking work by turning toward the yet underexamined issues of Black-produced serial print media as well as Black-run print businesses in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in the larger circum-Atlantic world. Recent digitization projects and searchable databases such African Newspapers, Series 1 & 2, 1800-1925 and Caribbean Newspapers, Series 1, 1718-1876 encourage us to explore a wider range of geographies and languages. Operating at the intersections of periodical and early Black Atlantic studies, the proposed issue will focus on the editorial and print entrepreneurial activities of Blacks in North America, the Caribbean, Cuba, South America, West Africa, and metropolitan Europe until 1900. Consequently, we encourage work that attends to the multi-language enterprise that these activities represent. Contributors may therefore cover Black Atlantic periodicals in English, Spanish, French, Dutch, Danish, Portuguese, and Arabic. In this context, we hope to rethink prevalent notions of editorship, as not merely involving peoples, materials, and infrastructures that transcended geographical and political boundaries but also embracing processes of cultural and linguistic translation.

Potential paper topics could include, but are not limited to:

  • individual editors and the union of editor-printer-publisher (such as Henry Bibb, Mary Ann Shadd Cary, Frederick Douglass, John Russwurm, Samuel Cornish, …)
  • the editor and other print agents (e.g. book binders, hawkers, illustrators)
  • editorial networks
  • digitization of Black Atlantic periodicals
  • questions of the colonial and metropolitan archive
  • Black entrepreneurship
  • the role of Black women in the print business
  • newspaper materiality
  • periodical design
  • translations of newspapers
  • Black Atlantic readers

Submission Instructions

We invite applications in the form of an abstract (max. 300 words) and a short bio (150 words) by October 31, 2018 to the following addresses: sawallis@uni-mainz.de and johseibe@uni-mainz.de. Applicants will be notified by mid-December 2018. 

Editorial information

  • Guest Editor: Nele Sawallisch , Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies; Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz
  • Guest Editor: Johanna Seibert, Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies; Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz