CFP: Mary Ann Shadd Cary in the Here and Now (Deadline: May 1, 2021)

We are beyond excited to share this CFP for the symposium and first-ever edited collection about the intrepid and boundary-defying intellectual Mary Ann Shadd Cary, developed by Dr. Kristin Moriah in partnership with the Colored Conventions Project, Douglass Day, and the early Black Women’s Organizing Archive at Penn State’s Center for Black Digital Research/DigBlk. 

CFP: This CFP seeks essays for the first edited collection about pioneering thinker Mary Ann Shadd Cary, who broke barriers in journalism, law and political activism in Canada and the United States. We are in search of innovative scholarly work from a broad range of inter/disciplinary perspectives including but not limited to historical, literary, gender, ecological, bibliographical, visual, sound, and performance studies. We aim to work across scholarly boundaries of nineteenth-century Black feminist inquiry in North America. Papers chosen for the collection will first be presented at a virtual symposium in October, 2021 hosted by Queen’s University and the Center for Black Digital Research/Dig Blk at Penn State University. We invite article submissions (6000 words) as well as interviews and creative texts (1000-3000 words) for consideration.

More than 20 years ago, Black Canadian scholar Rinaldo Walcott asked “who is Mary Ann Shadd Cary and what is she to you?” prompting discussions about how Black Studies, Canadian Studies and Black diasporic discourses might adopt nineteenth-century figure Mary Ann Shadd Cary as an intellectual guide while arguing for a sustained conversation concerning Blackness in Canada. In some ways, the answer seems simple: Mary Ann Shadd Cary was a trailblazing Black feminist, activist, journalist, and educator whose achievements can be traced across Canada and the United States. Yet despite the innovative work of Walcott and his colleagues in Black Canadian Studies and the groundbreaking biography by Jane Rhodes, public awareness of Mary Ann Shadd Cary remains too minimal in Canada and the U.S. 

How can contemporary scholars gain a better understanding of this enigmatic political figure? What kind of impact has she had on contemporary artists and writers in Canada and the United States? How did the Civil War, the catalyst for her return to the United States from Lower Canada, affect her work and her politics? Without answers to these questions, we lack critical information about the role that Black women played in uniting Black diasporic communities on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border.

In 2023, we will celebrate the 200th anniversary of Shadd Cary’s birth. This collection will be published that year. Her papers will also be the focus of an upcoming public humanities event called Douglass Day, an effort that will seek to collect, digitize, and transcribe her scattered archives for broader public access and memory. 

We welcome projects that explore Mary Ann Shadd as they relate to:

Archival Studies 

Activism and organizing 

Arts-based research

Black feminist editorship, bibliography, and print culture 

Black geographies and spatial practices 

Citizenship and belonging in Upper Canada, Delaware, Ontario, the United States and/or Washington, D.C.

Community engagement in Canada and the U.S.

Cultural criticism

Digital Humanities


Education and pedagogy

Family circles and trees

Transnational migration 

Legal studies


Public speech acts and oratory


Philosophy and religion

Proposals should include a description of the proposed paper (500 words) and a brief (no more than 3 pages) CV submitted here by May 1st, 2021. Applicants will be notified by June 1st, 2021. Full papers will be submitted by Sept 1st, 2021 for pre-circulation before the symposium–with a tight deadline for revisions shortly thereafter so the book will be ready for the 200th anniversary of her birth in 2023. 

Categories: Non ACCUTE CFPs

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