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Race, Law, and American Literary Studies (2012)

An interdisciplinary conference spanning English, History, Law, Religion and African American Studies.

Event Information

March 29, 2012
2:00 - 8:30 PM
2115 Tawes Hall

Friday, March 30, 2012
9:30 am to 6:00 pm
2115 Tawes Hall

For more information contact: Robert Levine (


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Welcome Remarks

2:00 PM-3:45 PM: Plenary Panel 1: Which Law, Which Literature?
Chair: Jeannine Marie DeLombard (English, University of Toronto)

  • Presenter: Nan Goodman (English, University of Colorado at Boulder)
    “How Do You Spot an Impostor? Race, Religion, and International Law at the Turn of the Eighteenth Century”
  • Presenter: Alfred Brophy (School of Law, University of North Carolina)
    “The Sources and Nature of Jurisprudence: Thomas R.R. Cobb’s An Inquiry into the Law of Negro Slavery
  • Presenter: Jeannine Marie DeLombard (English, University of Toronto)
    “Slave Narratives and . . . Torts?”
  • Presenter: Hoang G. Phan (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)
    “Bonds of Labor: Race and the Culture of Constitutionalism”

4:00 PM: Keynote Speaker: Stephen M. Best (English, University of California, Berkeley)
"The Legacy of 'The Legacy of Slavery'"

5:30 PM: Reception

7:00 PM: Born in the USA: The Politics of Birthright Citizenship in Historical Perspective
Keynote Speaker: Eric Foner (History, Columbia University)

Friday, March 30, 2012

9:30 AM-11:15 AM: Plenary Panel 2: Law, Literature, and Race in a Re-united but not Re-constructed Nation
Chair: Brook Thomas (English, University of California, Irvine)

  • Presenter: Amanda Claybaugh (English, Harvard University)
    “Law and the Fantasy of Government in African-American Literature”
  • Presenter: Brook Thomas (English, University of California, Irvine)
    “Rehearsing Legal Arguments in Literature: The Case of Albion W. Tourgée”
  • Presenter: Edlie Wong (English, University of Maryland) 
    “Futures Past: Counterfactual Histories and Comparative Racialization in the Chinese Invasion Narrative”
  • Presenter: Andrew Hebard (English, Miami University of Ohio)
    “Race-War and the Aesthetics of Imperial Sovereignty in Sutton Griggs's Imperium in Imperio

11:30 AM-12:45 PM: Plenary Panel 3: Agree to Disagree? Resolving the Logics of Law and Race
Chair: Robin West (Georgetown Law) 

  • Presenter: Christopher Brown (English, University of Maryland)
    “The Law Will Protect You”: Edward Jones and the Knowledge of Race
  • Presenter: Karla Holloway (English and Law, Duke University)
    “Bound by Law”: African America as Legal Fiction
  • Presenter: Imani Perry (Center for African American Studies, Princeton University)
    “Of Midnight Constitutionals and Bricolage Houses: Law and African American Thought”

12:45 PM-2:15 PM: Lunch

2:15 PM-4:00 PM: Plenary Panel 4: The Law of Law-Breaking: The Cultural Left and the Cold War Racial State
Chair: Mary Helen Washington (English, University of Maryland)

  • Presenter: Aaron Lecklider (American Studies, University of Massachusetts, Boston)
    "Mann Act, Woman-Act, Being-Black-and-Talking-Back: Race and Sexuality in US Radical Fiction"
  • Presenter: William J. Maxwell (English, Washington University in St. Louis)
    "COINTELPRO Minstrelsy: The National Security State Writes Black"
  • Presenter: James Smethurst (Afro-American Studies, University of Massachusetts, Amherst)
    “Lost in Castro’s Beard?: Bandung Postmodernism in African  American Poetry"
  • Presenter: Cheryl Higashida (English, University of Colorado, Boulder)

“Home is Where the Hatred Is: Property, Race, and Cold War Legacies"

4:15 PM-5:30 PM: Plenary Panel 5: Final Roundtable
Chair: Alfred Brophy

  • Respondent: Jeannine Marie DeLombard
  • Respondent: Brook Thomas
  • Respondent: Karla Holloway
  • Respondent: James Smethurst
  • Respondent: Stephen M. Best

5:30 PM: Reception

Conference Visitor Information

Find information on parking, lodging and transportation to the University of Maryland.