Hunter College, “Black Women Writers” (Fall 2012)

Guarded Conditions (1989) Lorna Simpson

Black Women Writers
Hunter College (City University of New York)
Department of English
Professor Frank Roberts

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Course Description:
This seminar will focus on the politics and poetics of twentieth century black feminist thought and practice. More specifically, in this course we will consider how black women writers in the U.S. have troubled the waters of what constitutes “theory,” what constitutes “activism,” and ultimately what constitutes feminism. Though literature will be our primary object of analysis, we will go astray many times by engaging black feminism in non-literary genres (such as in music and art). Central themes this semester will include: the dialogic nature of black women’s fiction; sexual conservation and the politics of black respectability; subaltern knowledge and “theory from below”; variations in literary form (fiction, poetry, personal essays, etc.), intersectionality and the quadrilateral nature of oppression, and the black female body as a site of ideological and political warfare.

Authors whose work we will engage will include Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Lynn Nottage, Audre Lorde, June Jordan, Cheryle Clarke, Hortense Spillers, Patricia Hill Collins, Tricia Rose, Joan Morgan, bell hooks, Kimberle Williams Crenshaw and Alexis Pauline Gumbs.

Download Syllabus: English 250 Syllabus

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