This seminar prepares students for research and writing using 20th century archives through a Black feminist lens. Students will undertake a semester-long research and writing project while attempting to answer the following questions: what does it mean to approach an archive as a Black feminist reader? What are the terms of the ethical and moral debates about institutions holding Black women’s collections and personal papers, which often include early drafts of published work, personal correspondences, and family photographs? How does one go to an archive to conduct research?
Assignments include scheduling a mock appointment at an archive of choice, identifying materials of personal interest in finding aids, performing close readings of literary texts such as African American women’s novels and poetry of the 20th century in conversation with archival materials, and sifting through digital materials from archival collections. The collections we will explore include those of Zora Neale Hurston, Mary Church Terrell, Audre Lorde, Toni Cade Bambara, and Ntozake Shange. We will also engage archival materials from African American periodicals Ebony magazine and The Colored American, and audio from the Black Women’s Oral History Project. For the final project, students will choose between writing a 10-15 paged research paper and a creative project.
Discussions will address debates within the field/period/topic of the course, research methods, and advanced writing and critical thinking skills. This course fulfills the JRS requirement for English Majors.