CFP: Critical Insights into Frank Yerby

In the fall of 2016, Paine College hosted the Frank Yerby Centennial Celebration and Evelyn Etheridge Conference on the Harlem Renaissance to celebrate Yerby’s 100th birthday. Over the past few years, scholars such as Veronica Watson, Gene Andrew Jarrett, Stephanie Brown, and James C. Charles have provided much needed insight regarding Yerby’s first novel The Foxes of Harrow (1946) and its follow up The Vixens (1947). This work adds to the scholarship of James L. Hill. However, more needs to be done to resurrect this oft-forgotten and marginalized author who Robert Bone, in the Negro Novel in America (1957), infamously referred to as “the prince of pulpsters,” a label that stuck even when Yerby moved away from his “costume romances” towards more political works such as Speak Now (1968) and The Dahomean (1971). The time is right for a deeper exploration of the life and career of Frank Yerby, a man who wrote 33 novels, numerous short stories, and poetry.

We seek proposals on Frank Yerby and his work for an edited collection, tentatively titled Critical Insights into Frank Yerby, that will draw attention to the importance of Yerby within the African American literary tradition and as an important author of American literature during the mid to latter part of the twentieth century. The collection is under advance contract with the University Press of Mississippi.

As such, we seek 6,500-8,000 word essays on any aspect of Yerby’s life and career. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Yerby’s protest literature before the 1946 publication of The Foxes of Harrow
  • Yerby’s readership during his career
  • Yerby’s expatriation in Europe and how that move relates to other authors such as James Baldwin, William Melvin Kelley, or others
  • Film and television adaptations of Yerby’s work
  • Yerby’s use of the “costume romance” to challenge the myths of the Old South
  • Yerby’s historical novels set in Europe such as The Saracen Blade or Goat Song
  • Yerby’s deployment of history throughout his works

The proposed timeline for Critical Insights into Frank Yerby is as follows.

  • October 4, 2017, 300-500 word proposals with 2-3 page CV
  • October 25, 2017, we will email decisions about proposals
  • January 12, 2018, first drafts of essays due
  • March 30, 2018, comments on drafts returned to authors
  • June 1, 2018, revisions of drafts due

Please email your proposal and 2-3 page CV to Matthew Teutsch at teutsch@auburn.edu by October 4, 2017.