Call for Papers

Call and Response-ability: Black Canadian Works of Art and the Politics of Relation

Call for Papers for an Edition Collection

In Poetics of Relation, Édouard Glissant elaborates the political possibilities of black creative work: it opens up opportunities for connection, relation and exchange that can potentially transform colonial and capitalist modes of rendering humans into nonhumans and land into property. However, while black Canadian works of art —including literature, visual art, music, and film – go out into the world with various aims and intentions, they cannot control their reception.

In thinking about processes of reading, teaching, and responding to black art on Turtle Island in various institutional and non-institutional sites, questions arise about how this potential for relation implicates audience members. In this context, we would like to invite essays for consideration that reflect on either one or both of two large, often overlapping areas, concerning the external and internal relations of black Canadian art. First, how do institutional and public contexts mediate the reception of black Canadian Art? And second, how does black art itself call upon its audiences to act, relate, identify, empathize and become responsible – to history, to relating – and to what effect?

  1. With regard to the first general area of concerns, we welcome contributions that focus on black art and its audiences—both historical and contemporary – including, literature, visual art, music and film, and which consider, for instance:
  • Black art in pedagogy, the classroom, the book club, Canada Reads, literary awards, and other contexts of reception
  • Black art and activism, including #BlackLivesMatter and #IdleNoMore;
  • Black-Indigenous identities, histories, relations, decolonial solidarities, affective bonds and kinship ties;
  • Black love, relationships and futures;
  • Gendered and queer relations;
  • Black art and anticapitalism;
  • Black art and the Anthropocene; land, air, and water protection; other-than-human relations; climate emergency and climate futures


  1. While black Canadian creative works cannot unilaterally control their reception, they often contain nonetheless indications, explicitly or implicitly, of audience(s) and possible responses their creators have in mind. With regard to this second general area of concern, we are interested in essays that explore the signals and strategies within these works that indicate the presence of implied or imagined audiences, and often can also serve as elements that contribute to the shape and functioning of the work. Contributions that include or concentrate on this area of concerns could consider, for instance:
  • What are audiences asked to do by these works?
  • How are readers, viewers, or listeners positioned or addressed, and what roles are implied or sketched out for audiences and their potential responses?
  • Do these works address specific audiences?
  • What specific narrative tropes, forms and strategies does black art develop to communicate with its audience?
  • Do these works seek to negotiate tensions between multiple audiences and across racial lines?
  • Do they thematize reader expectations, or seek to avoid some of the implications of representations of race?
  • Do they emphasize or seek to de-spectacularize race in their artistic process and through the creation of characters and narrators?
  • What questions do these texts raise about address, identification, or empathy?

Contributions in this area could also intervene in the study of formal and rhetorical modes of black Canadian art, and in the process address the absence of race in traditional reader response theory and reception aesthetics.

Please send essays of 6,000 – 9,000 words (including Notes and Works Cited) in Word or RTF, and in MLA format (8th edition), together with a short bio-bibliographical note by August 20, 2020 to Karina Vernon ( and Winfried Siemerling ( We are also interested in contributions written in French and in work that deals with francophone texts in Canada and Quebec.