Call for papers put out for Midwest Black History Conference

Nov. 3, 2009

Luther College has issued a call for papers for the seventh annual Midwest Black History Conference (MBHC) to be held on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010.

One of the country’s best-known Black History college events, the conference will feature outstanding speakers, presentations, panels, discussion groups and entertainment based on the theme “Playing in the Dark: Performing Black Expressive Cultures.”

The MBHC is an expansion of writer Toni Morrison’s 1992 work, “Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination” which explored how literary criticism in the United States conceals its racial politics.    

The conference will provide will examine and expand Morrison’s “Playing in the Dark” idea by including a range of black expressive cultures and art forms.   

Interested individuals are encouraged to submit presentation proposals that deal with the gathering of African traditions in the performing arts as they have expanded worldwide, as well as those that explore modern aesthetics, techniques and expressive forms in visual, performing and martial arts.    

Candidates are also encouraged to explore connections in themes, motifs and tropes in African literature and/or literature of the Americas. Individuals are also urged to explore black expressive cultures as resistance to injustice.    

“Playing in the Dark: Performing Black Expressive Cultures” welcomes the work of younger scholars and artists.    

The one-day Feb. 25 conference will have an opening plenary at 9 a.m., a plenary lecture at 9:40 a.m. and a closing plenary at 7:30 p.m. “Playing in the Dark” will also host master classes in Capoeria, an Afro-Brazilian art form that makes a ritual of movements from martial arts, games and dance.

The conference will focus on black expressive arts, broadly defined to include historical context. It will also look at how these expressions inspire creativity that supports black physical and cultural survival.

The deadline for submission of abstracts is Dec. 18. Interested individuals are asked to email a recent curriculum vitae and a one-page abstract of no more than 250 words to Sheila Radford-Hill, executive director of the Luther Diversity Center, at [email protected].

Abstracts may also be emailed to Richard Merritt, assistant professor of art, at [email protected], or Martin Klammer, chair of the Africana studies department, at [email protected].    

For more information, call (563) 387-1014 or visit the Luther College Diversity Center website at