20th Century African-American Women Writers and Filmmakers
This course seeks to examine the extraordinary and diverse landscape of twentieth-century African women's fiction and film. Despite the relatively recent commercial success of African-American women writers, only a handful of African-American women filmmakers have directed feature-length narrative films and/or had them produced by a major Hollywood studio. Ironically, many of the challenges that late nineteenth and early twentieth century African-American women writers had to confront—sexism, racism, and lack of financial support—now limit the output of black women filmmakers. In this class, we will consider how twentieth-century African-American women writers and filmmakers intersect the themes of race, culture, and sexuality in their texts, while we simultaneously interrogate how their historical contexts and different artistic mediums influence how they understand and depict black womanhood. Some of the writers we will look at are: Nella Larsen, Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Audre Lorde, Toni Cade Bambara, and Ntozake Shange, while the filmmakers include: Leslie Harris, Cheryl Dunye, Julie Dash, Kasi Lemmons, Darnell Martin, and Aishah Shahidah Simmons.