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CFP // Studies in the Literary Imagination 

Special Issue on the Literature of Atlanta

The city of Atlanta if often nestled in layers of American and southern exceptionalism. The refrain that “once you leave Atlanta, you’re in Georgia” locates the city outside the imaginary of the U.S. South, a space often overdetermined by the rural. And still, as an American city and as a locus for literary production, Atlanta is overshadowed by its peers to the north (New York, Chicago, and Boston) and west (Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New Orleans). At the same time, the city has become a hub for film and television production in the twenty-first century, and it sits profoundly at the center of the hip hop industry now more than ever.

Where do these contradictory cultural framings leave the city’s literature? This special issue of Studies in the Literary Imagination examines the literary texts of a city that W.E.B. Du Bois characterized as “peering out from the shadows of the past into the promise of the future.” We seek essays that consider Atlanta’s literary past, present, and future that move beyond the most familiar characterizations of the city in literature, treating texts that radically shift the narrative landscapes established by Gone with the Wind (1936) or that return to those landscapes with new eyes.

We welcome a wide range of methodologies to understanding Atlanta’s literature, particularly those that focus on emerging wings of southern literary studies related to critical race theory, ecocriticism, queer studies, and Indigenous studies. The following prompts offers possible topics, and it is not meant to be exhaustive: 

  • Literary attempts to redirect the most familiar representations of the city, such as those by Alice Randall, Percival Everett, and others 
  • Literature exploring the status of Atlanta as a city driven by colonizing and globalizing forces related to Removal, migration, capital—such as those by Nella Larsen, Ha Jin, Janet McAdams, Dave Eggers, Tom Wolfe, Omar El Akkad, and others 
  • Literary treatments of the city that move beyond the novel, such as those by Natasha Trethewey, Kevin Young, ZZ Packer, Pearl Cleage, Jericho Brown, Topher Payne, Alfred Uhry, Horton Foote, Joel Chandler Harris, and others 
  • Literary treatments of Atlanta’s urban development—including those by Nathan McCall, Anthony Grooms, Anne Rivers Siddons, Hannah Palmer, and others—and that development’s relationship to outlying areas surrounding the city, including those by James Dickey, Flannery O’Connor, Devi Laskar, and others 
  • Literary examinations of Atlanta’s complex position as a Black city, including those by James Weldon Johnson, W.E.B. Du Bois, Oscar Micheaux, many of the authors listed elsewhere, and others 
  • Literary representations of Atlanta that complement and anticipate broader cultural (re)investigations of the Atlanta Child Murders (1979-1981), including those by James Baldwin, Toni Cade Bambara, Tayari Jones, and others 
  • Literary treatments of Atlanta as a queer city, including those by Donald Windham, Benjamin Smoke, many of the aforementioned writers, and others 
  • Examinations of Atlanta in genre fiction, including those by Stephen King, the stories in Atlanta Noir (2016), and others 
  • Work driven by archival investigations of Atlanta’s literature, writers, and print culture 

We welcome work on the topics above and any others that focus on Atlanta’s literary landscapes, helping readers shift focus away from the familiar scales of analysis in southern studies—the region, the nation, the hemisphere, the globe—in order to explore how Atlanta reconfigures these and other scales.

Studies in the Literary Imagination is a biannual scholarly journal focusing on special topics in literature and enjoys a worldwide audience. SLI delivers topic-driven issues on a range of literary texts; in this sense, SLI serves more as a monograph series than as a typical journal.

Proposals from established, emerging, and independent scholars are welcomed. Please send 500-word abstracts as well as a short author bio (~100 words) to the editors of this special issue, Matthew Dischinger ([email protected]) and Gina Caison ([email protected]) by December 15, 2020. Inquiries can be directed to Dr. Dischinger. For those asked to contribute essays to the special issue, we anticipate that completed essays will be due in August 2021. Contributors will also be invited to present conference-length versions of their work as part of a featured panel at the Society for the Study of Southern Literature’s Biennial Conference in spring of 2022 in Atlanta. 


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LSU Libraries Special Collections Research Grants

The LSU Libraries is offering research travel grants of $1000 each to support the work of researchers who use the rich holdings of the LSU Special Collections Library. The purpose of the grant is to support a researcher’s travel and lodging costs associated with a research trip to Baton Rouge, LA. Graduate level, post-doctoral, faculty and independent researchers who live outside the Baton Rouge area are encouraged to pursue this opportunity. For application information visit: The application deadline is April 30, 2018 and the expected research completion date is June 1, 2019. About LSU Libraries Special Collections The LSU Libraries Special Collections is celebrated for its extensive holdings on the history of Louisiana and the Lower Mississippi Valley, documented through manuscripts, books, newspapers, maps, and ephemera. The American Civil War also has been one of the library’s traditional strengths, including collections specializing in Lincoln studies, Civil War fiction, and young people’s literature. A natural history collection rich in botanical and ornithological illustration, a rare book collection strong in the history of books and printing, and various personal libraries on subjects ranging from Sherlock Holmes to classic comic books all make the LSU Libraries Special Collections a destination for scholars researching broad subjects in American and European history and life. For more information visit: