A short take on six frequently featured authors in the College Language Association (CLA) Journal.
Written by Kenton Rambsy and Howard Rambsy II
Read by Kassandra Timm.
Since 1957, the College Language Association Journal, or the CLA Journal, has published more than 3,800 articles, bibliographies, and reviews focusing on analyses of literature.
While the journal has covered a large number of writers, it has focused on six African American novelists far more than others.
You’re listening to Remarkable Receptions – a podcast about popular and critical responses to African American novels.
The CLA Journal is published by the College Language Association, a scholarly organization founded in 1937 by African American professors at black colleges and universities. They wanted an organization where members could share ideas and information about literature as well as English language education. The organization expanded and eventually established a scholarly publication.
The CLA Journal published articles on an array of topics and literary figures. Nonetheless, six novelists are featured more frequently than others. They were James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, Jean Toomer, and Richard Wright.
Scholars have published approximately 230 articles on those six novelists since the 1960s in the CLA Journal.
With 68 scholarly articles, Richard Wright has been a featured author more than any other writer in the publication.
During the 1970s, Ralph Ellison, Jean Toomer, and Wright were the most featured authors.
Then, in the 1980s, Ellison, Morrison, and Wright were the most featured. During the 1990s, articles about Wright and Hurston appeared with the greatest frequency. During the 2000s, it was Wright and Morrison, and during the 2010s, Morrison was the most featured author.
The largest number of articles on the six authors were published during the 1970s. Young scholars of literature might perhaps be surprised that Jean Toomer was such a favored topic during the 1970s, since his work is far less discussed these days in the critical discourse.
What’s more in line with current trends in the scholarly discourse on American and African American literature is the rising popularity of Toni Morrison. The increased attention on her in the CLA Journal coincides with the heightened interest in her works in multiple areas of literary studies.
The prevalence of Wright is also noteworthy. He was a leading focal author in the CLA Journal for four decades, from the 1970s through the 2000s. That kind of extended attention is remarkable.
This episode was written by Howard Rambsy and Kenton Rambsy. The episode was edited by Elizabeth Cali.
This podcast, Remarkable Receptions, is part of the Black Literature Network, a joint project from African American literary studies at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and the History of Black Writing at the University of Kansas. The project was made possible by the generous support of the Mellon Foundation. For more information, visit blacklitnetwork.org.