Current Research Initiative

Black Feminism


Theme year Post-doctoral fellow, Mecca Jamilah Sullivan (U-Mass Amherst), author of Blue Talk and Love (2015).
Graduate seminar: WST 960 BLACK FEMINIST THOUGHT AND PRACTICE – Kimberly Lamm.

This course will engage with the texts that have defined black feminist thought (both in the United States and across the African diaspora) and then highlight their connections to black women’s artistic productions in literature, visual art, and film. An important focus of this course will be on tracing the “black feminist imagination,” which entails analyzing how literary and visual artists have imaginatively translated black women’s histories (in the sense of long arcs and legacies but also quotidian realities) into aesthetic forms and creative practices. Themes we will be pursuing include: the figurations of gender and sexuality within racial domination and violence (with a particular focus on Hortense Spillers’ concept of “ungendering”); the psychic legacies of human commodification and enslavement; race, reproduction, and reproductive labor; imagining and actualizing intra-and inter-subjectivity; the figure of the black girl; visuality, beauty, adornment, and display. Attending to the black feminist imagination in relationship to this constellation of themes will be an opportunity to think historically about the ways in which black women have worked with linguistic and visual materials to create subjective forms that resist domination and expand narrow definitions of race, gender, and sexuality. Work by the following visual and literary artists will be included: Gwendolyn Brooks, Cheryl Clarke, Julie Dash, Zanele Muholi, Harryette Mullen, Wangechi Mutu, M. NourbeSe Philip, Tracey Rose, Lorna Simpson, and Carrie Mae Weems.