Tuesday, July 16, 2019

CHESTER HIMES CONFERENCE: 2020: Paris: Call for Abstracts

The Absurdity of Racism: an International Chester Himes Conference
Deadline for submissions: 
October 15, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
William Dow The American University of Paris
contact email: 

The Absurdity of Racism: an International Chester Himes Conference
4-6 June, 2020
Co-Directors Alice Mikal Craven and William E. Dow
American University of Paris

Chester Himes quotes Albert Camus in the opening to the second volume of his autobiography:  "Racism is absurd. Racism introduces absurdity into the human condition…If one lives in a country where racism is held valid and practiced in all ways of life, eventually, no matter whether one is a racist or a victim one comes to feel the absurdity of life".

Always controversial, combative and daring, Himes carved a niche for himself in the worlds of crime fiction and protest literature while negotiating the "quality of hurt" of his black American and European expatriate worlds. Himes, author of the sometimes proto-surreal Harlem domestic series, was able to gain prominence as a writer in large part through his close ties to founders of the Série noire in Paris in the mid 1940’s and 1950's. His life as a convict in America led to some hard hitting though largely neglected protest and prison literature, which is receiving its due today. Thanks to the recuperation of heavily censored editions of his work, Himes' prophetic visions of and complex relations to America's racism has enjoyed new scrutiny in the age of a burgeoning white nationalism in the United States.

One of the rare if not the first* International Chester Himes conference will be held at the American University of Paris from 4-6 June 2020. Scholars and writers are encouraged to submit abstracts for papers of an international and interdisciplinary nature from scholars and artists.

Topics may include:

Chester Himes and the black American expatriate community
Chester Himes in America: the role of censorship in determining his legacy
Protest Literature and Prison Literature in the Context of Chester Himes
Cinematic Adaptations of Himes: Successes and Failures
John A. Williams and Chester Himes
James Baldwin, Richard Wright and Chester Himes: Literary Styles and Personal Interactions
FBI surveillance of the black American community and Chester Himes
Chester Himes: The Autobiographies and the perils of writing his biographies
The Harlem Domestic Series and the Série noire
Chester Himes’ Influence and his Relevance to the Contemporary Scene

Plenary speakers will be confirmed shortly. A special reading by Jake Lamar will be held and a Chester Himes walking tour led by Julia Browne will be led by Julia Browne of Walking Tour Sprits on 7 June. Registration fees for the tour will be communicated in the next mailing.

Conference Fee: (includes, coffee breaks and opening and closing receptions)  75 Euros

Dinner Fee: 60 Euros

Registration Fee for Spouses or Guests 35 Euros (We hope not, but due to security issues, this category my need to be limited registration)

Abstracts of 250 words, accompanied by a very brief bio, including name and professional affiliation or credentials both submitted on a single page should be sent by 15 October to:
acraven@aup.edu AND   wdow@aup.edu

* Friends of Chester Himes held a conference for three years in a row in Oakland, CA, 1995-1998 at the Oakland Museum in Oakland, CA. Conference director: Jan Faulkner.
HT: Ayo Onatade

1 comment:

Gary Phillips said...

Thanks for posting this, Janet.