UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA
VENUS RISING: FICTION, CRITICISM AND THEORY BY BLACK WOMEN
This seminar is an introduction to the diverse concerns of contemporary
literature, criticism and theory written by black women from throughout the
African Diaspora. Each unit will start with a work of fiction, poetry (and
perhaps photography or film) and then go on to explore important critical and
theoretical essays that share the concerns of the creative texts. However,
throughout the course our readings will challenge such strident boundaries
between creative, critical and theoretical. Questions of history, narrative,
memory and resistance will guide our discussion of each reading.
The seminar is designed as a workshop; its success is dependent upon
your attendance, participation and engagement. All of us are expected to
attend class, read every assignment carefully and come prepared with comments
and/or questions. No question or comment is stupid or unworthy of our atten-
tion. At times we will encounter very difficult reading and this requires
that we be prepared to work through them together. I expect you to be
thoroughly engaged in the classroom and related activities. Throughout the
semester, I will bring to your attention relevant lectures, exhibitions,
documentaries, discussions, films and other events. Please feel free to do
the same. When possible we can organize group outings to attend such events
January 17 Introduction:
Elizabeth Alexander, Venus Hottentot
January 19 Barbara Christian, "But What Do We Think We're Doing Anyway:
The State of Black Feminist Criticism"
Mary Helen Washington "The Darkened Eye Restored: Notes
toward a Literary History of Black Women"
January 24 Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
January 26 Their Eyes Were Watching God
Alice Walker, "Looking for Zora," In Search of Our Mother's
January 31 Toni Morrison, Sula
February 2 Deborah McDowell, New Directions for
Barbara Smith, "Towards a Black Feminist Criticism"
Feb 14 Mae Henderson, Speaking in Tongues
Feb 16 No class
Feb 21 Nella Larsen, Quicksand
Feb 23 Quicksand
Feb. 28 Deborah McDowell, "Introduction" to Quicksand
March 2 Ann DuCille, "Introduction" to The Coupling Convention
March 7-9 SPRING BREAK
March 14 Pauline Hopkins "Of One Blood"
March 16 Hazel Carby, "Introduction" to Reconstructing Womanhood
March 21 Carol Boyce Davies, Migratory Subjectivities
March 23 Ama Ata Aidoo, Our Sister Killjoy
March 28 Audrey Lorde, Zami
March 30 ATTEND THE SEXUALITY AND VIOLENCE CONFERENCE
April 4 Film: Daughters of the Dust
April 6 bell hooks and Toni Cade Bambara on
"Daughters of the Dust"
BLACK FEMINIST "EVENTS"
Each group will not only discuss the relationship of each of the events to the
issues we have considered, but will also tell us about the reception of each
text. In other words, groups are required to locate reviews of the texts
and/or the press surrounding the texts, production or event, in both the main-
stream and the African American and feminist press.
April 11 The Black Woman Anthology
April 13 For Colored Girls
April 18 Homegirls Anthology
April 20 No Class
April 25 The Color Purple
April 27 LAST CLASS -- WRAP UP.
This page was prepared by Audrey Mickahail at the Center for Electronic Projects in American Culture Studies (CEPACS), housed at Georgetown University, under the direction of Randy Bass, Department of English.
Randy Bass, Director