Steinbeck, Race, and Ethnicity A Special Issue of Steinbeck Review
The Steinbeck Review (San Jose, CA)
Monday, April 1, 2024
Review Begins: 
Tuesday, April 2, 2024


Call for Papers

Steinbeck, Race, and Ethnicity

A Special Issue of Steinbeck Review

Like many American authors who rose to prominence in the first half of the twentieth century, John Steinbeck came from an economically privileged Protestant family of European descent and grew up in a socially and religiously conservative environment.  Like many of his contemporaries, he distanced himself from his upbringing in his fiction, rejecting the authority of government, of institutions, and of received cultural wisdom.  He sided with the poor and dispossessed, he stood with the underdog, and he tried to give the downtrodden a voice through his fiction.  His writing indicates that he aligned himself with the ideology of mid-century liberalism and considered himself liberal, progressive, and open minded.

            Much of his work, however, now appears problematic to contemporary scholars, particularly those concerned with representation and social justice.   How could a writer who wrote two novels about strikes in the California agricultural industry not mention migrant workers of Latinx and Asian diasporic backgrounds? Although Steinbeck clearly intended them to be positive characters, Lee Chong in Cannery Row and Lee in East of Eden reflect stereotypical thinking about Chinese and Chinese-American people.  Few African-American characters are mentioned in Steinbeck’s fiction, and the few who are, such as Crooks in Of Mice and Men, reflect simplistic and paternalistic perceptions about race.

            Questions such as these (and many others) need to be more fully explored in John Steinbeck’s works.  And some of these queries may best be explored by scholars from underrepresented backgrounds whose perspectives have  not often been seen   in Steinbeck circles, but whose voices could open new vistas for  important, rich new discussions of his work.

            The editorial staff at Steinbeck Review invites submissions on the topic of “Steinbeck, Race, and Ethnicity.”  Discussions of any Steinbeck work or works are welcome.  Of particular interest are discussions such as

  • Asian American and Trans-Pacific Studies perspectives on Steinbeck
  • Latinx Studies and Borderlands Studies Perspectives on Steinbeck
  • African-American Studies perspectives on Steinbeck
  • Native/Indigenous Studies perspectives (including decolonial, postcolonial, and settler colonial approaches)
  • Comparative Ethnic Studies approaches (including placing Steinbeck’s work in conversation with other writers and texts)
  • Global and Transnational perspectives (including non-US ethnicities)

All critical and theoretical perspectives are welcomed.  Submissions should be from twelve to twenty double-spaced pages in length, should reflect an awareness of Steinbeck scholarship, and should follow current MLA style as reflected in the 9th MLA Handbook. 


  • 500-word proposal submitted to editors (see below):   April 1, 2024
    • Prospective contributors should prepare manuscripts in MLA with all identifying references to the author(s) deleted. Submissions should include a cover page, giving the name, address, and institutional affiliation of the author(s) as well as a short bio not to exceed 300 words.
  • Decision deadline and invitation to submit full manuscript :  May 1, 2024
  • Full version:  September 1, 2024, to be submitted to the Steinbeck Review online submission and review system at .  Papers have the possibility for publication in a special issue in the Spring 2025 issue of Steinbeck Review.  See note below for the journal’s international recognition.

Also, submit manuscripts in digital format to both

  • Charles “Chuck” Etheridge, Guest Editor, Professor of English

(361) 825-5755

  • Barbara A. Heavilin, Editor-in-Chief

(512) 305-3843

Submissions should be accompanied by an abstract and key words.


Indexed by the international database SCOPUS and the European Reference Index for the Humanities and Social Sciences,  Steinbeck Review is a peer-reviewed publication on the life and works of American novelist John Steinbeck.  With other Penn State University Press journals, it partners with Duke University Press as part of the Scholarly Publishing Collective.   

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