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"Editing Early African American Literature," the Forty-Eighth Conference on Editorial Problems, co-convened by Jeannine DeLombard (University of Toronto); Kenneth Warren (University of Chicago); and Tess Chakkalakal (Bowdoin College), will be held on Friday 9 November and Saturday 10 November 2012 in the Munk School of Global Affairs, 1 Devonshire Place, University of Toronto.


The objective of this conference is to assemble an international group of scholars to address and evaluate editorial approaches to early African American Literature. Examining recent methods used to recover and rethink works by Olaudah Equiano, Frances E.W. Harper, Harriet Wilson, Hannah Crafts, and Julia Collins, we hope to understand the complex relation between race and editorial practices during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Important topics will include: Sutton E. Griggs and the black-owned publishing industry, white editor/black author, oral culture vs. print culture, and digitizing dialect.

Conference Program

The final program is listed below; changes in the schedule will be posted as necessary. All sessions will be held at The Munk School (see map for directions).


9:00 am – 9:30 am • Second Floor Lounge

9:30 am – 9:45 am • Room 108N
Tess Chakkalakal and Kenneth Warren

SESSION ONE: What Is an African American Book?
9:45 am–12:00 noon • Room 208N
Chair: Jeannine DeLombard, University of Toronto
• Kenneth Warren, University of Chicago, "What Was African American Literature?"
• John Ernest, University of Delaware: "Artless Stories, Simple Facts: Editorial Practices and the Misreading of Nineteenth-Century African American Literature"
• Michael Winship, University of Texas, Austin: "Scholarly Editions Today: Where Did They Come From?"
• Robin L. Condon, Indiana University, School of Liberal Arts: "Who Wrote Life and Times of Frederick Douglass?"

12:00 noon – 1:30 pm • Second Floor Lounge

SESSION TWO: Who is an African American Author?
1:45–3:00 pm Room 208N
Chair: Kenneth Warren, University of Chicago
• Vincent Carretta, University of Maryland: "Was Olaudah Equiano an African-American Author?"
• Hollis Robbins, Johns Hopkins University : "What Do We Know about Who is Hannah Crafts?"
• Hannah Wallinger, University of Salzburg: "Pauline E. Hopkins and Sutton E. Griggs: Problems of and in Research"
• Ezra Greenspan, Southern Methodist University: "Interchangeable Texts: Editing William Wells Brown's Movable Targets"

5:30 pm –7:00 pm • Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, 130 St George Street (see map for directions)
• George Elliott Clarke, University of Toronto


9:00 am – 9:30 am • Second Floor Lounge

SESSION THREE: Who Is an African American Reader?
9:45 am – 12:00 noon – Room 208N
Chair: Karina Vernon, University of Toronto
• John Gruesser, Kean University: "The Challenges of Editing Early African American Literary Texts in Serial Form and Book Form"
• Barbara Hochman, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev : "Nella Larsen's Booklist"
• Tess Chakkalakal, Bowdoin College: "Walter Hines Page and the Black Book Market"

12:00 noon – 1:30 pm • Second Floor Lounge

SESSION FOUR: Texts and Methods
1:45 pm – 3:00 pm • Room 208N
Chair: Leslie Sanders, York University
• William Andrews, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: "Reflections on a Quarter Century of Editing African American Texts"
• Maria Giulia Fabi, University of Ferrara: "A Genre of the Future: Recovering and Editing Pre-Harlem Renaissance African American Speculative Fiction"
• Dick Ellis, University of Birmingham : "'In a very unhealthy state': What Sort of Spiritualist was Harriet Wilson?"

3:30 pm • Room 208N