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CALL FOR PAPERS: Research in African Literatures is soliciting original submissions for a special issue on the topic of sub-Saharan African popular culture to be guest-edited by Professor Francis Higginson of Bryn Mawr College. This special issue will examine textual materials in literary, filmic/video, musical, and/or graphic media. We welcome critical essays on the comic book or strip, film and video, rap or other verbal musical traditions, or various popular literary genres, such as romances and detective novels. Few have spoken of this aspect of African cultural production. Bernth Lindfors's Popular Literature in Africa (1990) and the 2002 collection of essays African Popular Fiction edited by Stephanie Newell are among the few scholarly efforts to examine the topic of African popular culture. Nevertheless, their focus is almost exclusively on written documents and primarily on anglophone Africa.
This special issue seeks to broaden the scope of these contributions by including more media such as video/film and music. Likewise, it hopes, in addition to anglophone material, to pay closer attention to the popular cultural productions of francophone and lusophone Africa, as well as productions in local African languages. The hope is that these essays will show how, in Africa, as elsewhere, local expressive forms escape some of the traps of the High Art tradition inherited from Europe and enter into new and unexpected networks of communication. Popular expressive forms, unfettered by Art's problematic Promethean imperative, feed at will on the global exchange of forms and ideas while adapting these influences through the local vernacular of reception and redeployment. This extraordinary phenomenon is something to be recognized, understood, and, finally, celebrated. In the case of Africa, understanding popular culture may be particularly important given how the West has historically used the idea of culture as a means of constructing African alterity.
Abstracts of up to 500 words are due before 1 September 2005. Send to: Research in African Literatures, The Ohio State University, 361 Dulles Hall, 230 W. 17th Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210 USA.
CORRECTION: Research in African Literatures regrets the misspelling of James E. Genova's name in volume 36, number 1 (Spring 2005) in which he reviews Josef Gugler's African Film on pp. 124-25.