Spring 2004

Moral Agency and Survival: The Black Women Writer's Renaissance


01/26/2004 - 05/08/2004
Thursday 06:00 PM - 09:00 PM

This course will analyze and interpret writing by Black women in the United States from the 1920s through the 1980s, and especially the Black Women Writers' Renaissance of the '70s and '80s with particular attention on the contributions of the Black Women's Movement toward the incorporation of gender and sexuality as well as race in the critical assessment of the work. This course will provide an overview of some of the historical, political, social, and literary forces that have influenced Black women writers as well as the effect the writings have had on these same conditions. The various themes employed by these writers will be explored, including the moral and ethical questions raised as they grapple with issues of individual and group survival in the African-American community.

Several questions basic to the establishment of Black Women's Studies and its significance in the current social and political climate will be reconsidered: Why read Black women writers? Why study Black women writers? Why teach Black women writers? What ideas do Black women writers, scholars, and researchers "bring to the table" in our assessment of equality and democracy and the ideal of "The American Dream?"

The perspectives of pioneering Black feminists, including Anna Julia Cooper and Frances E.W. Harper will help form the basis of our inquiry. Other authors will include Toni Morrison, Toni Cade Bambara, Phyllis Wheatley, Zora Neale Hurston, and Alice Walker.

Written assignments include several short essays and response papers, and a final paper.

Kate Rushin (B.A. Oberlin College; M.F.A. Brown University) is a poet and adjunct assistant professor and visiting writer in African American studies at Wesleyan University. Her poems are widely anthologized, and her collection of poems, The Black Back-Ups, was published by Firebrand Books (1993). Her newest collection of poems, Camden Sweet Lawnside Blues, will be published by the Wesleyan University Press in 2004.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:

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