Explores Black women writers’ treatment of the ancestor figure. The Grasp That Reaches beyond the Grave investigates the treatment of the ancestor figure in Toni Cade Bambara’s The Salt Eaters, Paule Marshall’s Praisesong for the Widow, Phyllis Alesia Perry’s Stigmata and A Sunday in June, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Tananarive Due’s The Between, and Julie Dash’s film, Daughters of the Dust in order to understand how they draw on African cosmology and the interrelationship of ancestors, elders, and children to promote healing within the African American community. Venetria K. Patton suggests that the experience of slavery with its concomitant view of black women as “natally dead” has impacted African American women writers’ emphasis on elders and ancestors as they seek means to counteract notions of black women as somehow disconnected from the progeny of their wombs. This misperception is in part addressed via a rich kinship system, which includes the living and the dead. Patton notes an uncanny connection between depictions of elder, ancestor, and child figures in these texts and Kongo cosmology. These references suggest that these works are examples of Africanisms or African retentions, which continue to impact African American culture. Venetria K. Patton is Associate Professor of English and Director of the African American Studies and Research Center at Purdue University. She is the author of Women in Chains: The Legacy of Slavery in Black Women’s Fiction, also published by SUNY Press, and coeditor (with Maureen Honey) of Double-Take: A Revisionist Harlem Renaissance Anthology.
Searching for Sycorax highlights the unique position of Black women in horror as both characters and creators. Kinitra D. Brooks creates a racially gendered critical analysis of African diasporic women, challenging the horror genre’s historic themes and interrogating forms of literature that have often been ignored by Black feminist theory. Brooks examines the works of women across the African diaspora, from Haiti, Trinidad, and Jamaica, to England and the United States, looking at new and canonized horror texts by Nalo Hopkinson, NK Jemisin, Gloria Naylor, and Chesya Burke. These Black women fiction writers take advantage of horror’s ability to highlight U.S. white dominant cultural anxieties by using Africana folklore to revise horror’s semiotics within their own imaginary. Ultimately, Brooks compares the legacy of Shakespeare’s Sycorax (of The Tempest) to Black women writers themselves, who, deprived of mainstream access to self-articulation, nevertheless influence the trajectory of horror criticism by forcing the genre to de-centralize whiteness and maleness.
In Bodyminds Reimagined Sami Schalk traces how black women's speculative fiction complicates the understanding of bodyminds—the intertwinement of the mental and the physical—in the context of race, gender, and (dis)ability. Bridging black feminist theory with disability studies, Schalk demonstrates that this genre's political potential lies in the authors' creation of bodyminds that transcend reality's limitations. She reads (dis)ability in neo-slave narratives by Octavia Butler (Kindred) and Phyllis Alesia Perry (Stigmata) not only as representing the literal injuries suffered under slavery, but also as a metaphor for the legacy of racial violence. The fantasy worlds in works by N. K. Jemisin, Shawntelle Madison, and Nalo Hopkinson—where werewolves have obsessive-compulsive-disorder and blind demons can see magic—destabilize social categories and definitions of the human, calling into question the very nature of identity. In these texts, as well as in Butler’s Parable series, able-mindedness and able-bodiedness are socially constructed and upheld through racial and gendered norms. Outlining (dis)ability's centrality to speculative fiction, Schalk shows how these works open new social possibilities while changing conceptualizations of identity and oppression through nonrealist contexts.
This book concentrates on six neo-slave narratives written by late 20th and early 21st century black American women: Octavia Butler’s Kindred, Phyllis Alesia Perry’s Stigmata and A Sunday in June, Gayl Jones’ Corregidora, Joan California Cooper’s Family, and Athena Lark’s Avenue of Palms. It explores the process of re(-)membering of the black female characters in these novels, and shows how these authors manage to both write the transgenerational trauma of slavery and write through it, enabling black American women’s voices to be heard. This analysis of famous classics, as well as less-known books, demonstrates how black American women’s traumatic memory of slavery is inscribed in a transgenerational black female body. Conjuring up questions of narratology and intertextuality, it highlights how working-through takes the form of a narrativization of this traumatic memory by diverse means. This book also reflects upon the links between the collective and personal psyches by laying emphasis on the ineluctable intertwining of national history and individual destiny.
Trans Identity as Embodied Afrofuturism / Amber Johnson -- "I Luh God" : Erica Campbell, Trap Gospel and the Moral Mask of Language Discrimination / Sammantha McCalla -- The Conciliation Project as a Social Experiment : Behind the Mask of Uncle Tomism and the Performance of Blackness / Jasmine Coles & Tawnya Pettiford-Wates.
Considering the development and ongoing influence of Black thought From 1900 to the present, people of African descent living in the United States have drawn on homegrown and diasporic minds to create a Black intellectual tradition engaged with ideas on race, racial oppression, and the world. This volume presents essays on the diverse thought behind the fight for racial justice as developed by African American artists and intellectuals; performers and protest activists; institutions and organizations; and educators and religious leaders. By including both women’s and men’s perspectives from the U.S. and the Diaspora, the essays explore the full landscape of the Black intellectual tradition. Throughout, contributors engage with important ideas ranging from the consideration of gender within the tradition, to intellectual products generated outside the intelligentsia, to the ongoing relationship between thought and concrete effort in the quest for liberation. Expansive in scope and interdisciplinary in practice, The Black Intellectual Tradition delves into the ideas that animated a people’s striving for full participation in American life. Contributors: Derrick P. Alridge, Keisha N. Blain, Cornelius L. Bynum, Jeffrey Lamar Coleman, Pero Gaglo Dagbovie, Stephanie Y. Evans, Aaron David Gresson III, Claudrena N. Harold, Leonard Harris, Maurice J. Hobson, La TaSha B. Levy, Layli Maparyan, Zebulon V. Miletsky, R. Baxter Miller, Edward Onaci, Venetria K. Patton, James B. Stewart, and Nikki M. Taylor
The Lemonade Reader is an interdisciplinary collection that explores the nuances of Beyoncé’s 2016 visual album, Lemonade. The essays and editorials present fresh, cutting-edge scholarship fueled by contemporary thoughts on film, material culture, religion, and black feminism. Envisioned as an educational tool to support and guide discussions of the visual album at postgraduate and undergraduate levels, The Lemonade Reader critiques Lemonade’s multiple Afrodiasporic influences, visual aesthetics, narrative arc of grief and healing, and ethnomusicological reach. The essays, written by both scholars and popular bloggers, reflects a broad yet uniquely specific black feminist investigation into constructions of race, gender, spirituality, and southern identity. The Lemonade Reader gathers a newer generation of black feminist scholars to engage in intellectual discourse and confront the emotional labor around the Lemonade phenomena. It is the premiere source for examining Lemonade, a text that will continue to have a lasting impact on black women’s studies and popular culture.
While the legacy of Black urban rebellions during the turbulent 1960s continues to permeate throughout US histories and discourses, scholars seldom explore within scholarship examining Black Cultural Production, artist-writers of the Black Arts Movement (BAM) that addressed civil unrest, specifically riots, in their artistic writings. Start a Riot! Civil Unrest in Black Arts Movement Drama, Fiction, and Poetry analyzes riot iconography and its usefulness as a political strategy of protestation. Through a mixed-methods approach of literary close-reading, historical, and sociological analysis, Casarae Lavada Abdul-Ghani considers how BAM artist-writers like Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones), Ben Caldwell, Gwendolyn Brooks, Sonia Sanchez, and Henry Dumas challenge misconceptions regarding Black protest through experimental explorations in their writings. Representations of riots became more pronounced in the 1960s as pivotal leaders shaping Black consciousness, such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., were assassinated. BAM artist-writers sought to override the public's interpretation in their literary exposés that a riot’s disjointed and disorderly methods led to more chaos than reparative justice. Start a Riot! uncovers how BAM artist-writers expose anti-Black racism and, by extension, the United States' inability to compromise with Black America on matters related to citizenship rights, housing (in)security, economic inequality, and education—tenets emphasized during the Black Power Movement. Abdul-Ghani argues that BAM artist-writers did not merely write literature that reflected a spirit of protest; in many cases, they understood their texts, themselves, as acts of protest.
Texts act like receptacles for an ever-present remembered past, or what the French philosopher Paul Ricœur calls “the present representation of an absent thing”. They might embody an efficient remedy to forgetting but could also become a vivid testimony for exorcised traumas. This volume focuses on Ricœur’s phenomenology of memory, epistemology of history, and hermeneutics of forgetting. A special emphasis is laid on the dissension between individual and collective institutional memory.
Missing, dead, disappeared, or otherwise absent mothers haunt us and the stories we tell ourselves. Our literature, from fairytales like Cinderella and The Little Mermaid to popular narratives like Cheryl Strayed's recent book Wild, is peopled with motherless children. The absent mother, whether in literature or life, may force us to forge an independent identity. But she can also leave a mother-shaped hole and a howling loneliness that dogs us through our adult lives. This anthology explores the theme of absent mothers from scholars and creative writers, who tell personal stories and provide the theoretical framework to recognize and begin to understand the impact of motherlessness that ripples through our cultures and our art.
A comprehensive, chronological overview of American literature in three scholarly and authoritative volumes A Companion to American Literature traces the history and development of American literature from its early origins in Native American oral tradition to 21st century digital literature. This comprehensive three-volume set brings together contributions from a diverse international team of accomplished young scholars and established figures in the field. Contributors explore a broad range of topics in historical, cultural, political, geographic, and technological contexts, engaging the work of both well-known and non-canonical writers of every period. Volume One is an inclusive and geographically expansive examination of early American literature, applying a range of cultural and historical approaches and theoretical models to a dramatically expanded canon of texts. Volume Two covers American literature between 1820 and 1914, focusing on the development of print culture and the literary marketplace, the emergence of various literary movements, and the impact of social and historical events on writers and writings of the period. Spanning the 20th and early 21st centuries, Volume Three studies traditional areas of American literature as well as the literature from previously marginalized groups and contemporary writers often overlooked by scholars. This inclusive and comprehensive study of American literature: Examines the influences of race, ethnicity, gender, class, and disability on American literature Discusses the role of technology in book production and circulation, the rise of literacy, and changing reading practices and literary forms Explores a wide range of writings in multiple genres, including novels, short stories, dramas, and a variety of poetic forms, as well as autobiographies, essays, lectures, diaries, journals, letters, sermons, histories, and graphic narratives. Provides a thematic index that groups chapters by contexts and illustrates their links across different traditional chronological boundaries A Companion to American Literature is a valuable resource for students coming to the subject for the first time or preparing for field examinations, instructors in American literature courses, and scholars with more specialized interests in specific authors, genres, movements, or periods.
In Breathing Aesthetics Jean-Thomas Tremblay argues that difficult breathing indexes the uneven distribution of risk in a contemporary era marked by the increasing contamination, weaponization, and monetization of air. Tremblay shows how biopolitical and necropolitical forces tied to the continuation of extractive capitalism, imperialism, and structural racism are embodied and experienced through respiration. They identify responses to the crisis in breathing in aesthetic practices ranging from the film work of Cuban American artist Ana Mendieta to the disability diaries of Bob Flanagan, to the Black queer speculative fiction of Renee Gladman. In readings of these and other minoritarian works of experimental film, endurance performance, ecopoetics, and cinema-vérité, Tremblay contends that articulations of survival now depend on the management and dispersal of respiratory hazards. In so doing, they reveal how an aesthetic attention to breathing generates historically, culturally, and environmentally situated tactics and strategies for living under precarity.