Bettina Judd | Author of Patient

Bettina Judd

Art. Feminism. Femme Fire.

"Paper is on the Way" Black Womens Creative Production as Feminist/Womanist Thought

Course Description:

This writing intensive course explores the interconnections of Black women's creative production and Black Feminist and Womanist thought. We will explore Black women's art, performance, and creative processes as a means of physical and psychic survival. Students will be exposed to emerging and classic Black Feminist and Womanist texts as well as the creative work of emerging and established visual artists, musicians and poets. Students will have the opportunity to engage with the work closely through close reading, formal analysis as well as creative and improvisational modes of engagement.

Texts: 

  • Creating Their Own Image: The History of African-American Women Artists by Lisa E. Farrington
  • Black Feminist Thought by Patricia Hill Collins
  • Others available on ISIS, course reserves, and by instructor.

Learning Objectives:

  •  Students will be able to identify and discuss major themes in Black feminist thought and criticism.
  • Students will critically engage with the creative work of Black women artists.
  • Students will be able to conduct simple formal analyses of visual art, popular music, and poetry with a cultural studies framework.
  • Students will be able to respond to texts both creatively and critically.
  • Students will be expected to engage in group discussion and group projects using social media.

Grade Distribution:

  • 30% Participation
  • 10% Museum Assignment 
  • 25% Weekly Blog Response
  • 15% Class Leadership
  • 20% Interdisciplinary Bibliography Assignment

Course Outline

Creativity in Black Feminist and Womanist Thought

Black feminist scholars have argued for increased visibility of Black women writers, visual artists and other cultural producers. Art produced by Black women artists was understood to be an important site where Black women were able to tell their stories and define the contours of their lives on their terms. Black women artists and scholars have been in community with each other—sometimes with little distinction between scholarship, criticism, and creative production.  

Week 1
In Class: Discussion and Introductions “The Making of Paper” - Nikky Finney
After Class: “Poetry is not a Luxury” Audre Lorde Sister Outsider pp. 36-39, “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power” Audre Lorde Sister Outsider pp.  53-59, “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action Audre Lorde Sister Outsider pp. 40-44

In Class: Discussion
After Class: Introduction and Chapter 1 Art on My Mind Visual Politics by bell hooks pp. xi-xvi, 1- 9, “Beauty Laid Bare: Aesthetics in the Ordinary” Art on My Mind Visual Politics by bell hooks  pp. 119-124, “Women Artists: The Creative Process” Art on My Mind Visual Politics by bell hooks pp. 125-132

Week 2
In Class: Discussion
After Class: “Some Home Truths” Barbara Smith Introduction to Home Girls (xxi-lviii) 

In Class: Discussion
After Class: “The Politics of Black Feminist Thought” pp. 1-20 Patricia Hill-Collins Black Feminist Thought
 
Week 3
In Class: Discussion
After Class: “Distinguishing Features of Black Feminist Thought” pp. 21-44  Patricia Hill-Collins Black Feminist Thought

In Class: Discussion
After Class: Chapter 7 “Black Feminist Art” Lisa Fairington pp. 146-171
 
Week 4
In Class: Discussion
After Class: “Toward a Black Feminist Criticism” in The Truth that Never Hurts Barbara Smith pp. 3-21 

In Class: Discussion
After Class: “In Search of a Discourse and Critique/s that Center the Art of Black Women Artists” – Frida High Tesfagiorgis pp. 228-266


On Body, Images and History

A central theme in Black Feminist Thought and Black women’s creative production is re-imagining and reclaiming black women’s bodies. The body here, having broad implications for Black women’s sexuality, agency, reproductive health, self-image and self-definition. Looking at the histories of representations of Black women’s bodies based in racist pathology,  scientific inquiry, and the system of slavery


Week 5
In Class: Discussion
After Class: “Economies of the Flesh: Representing the Black Female Body in Art” from The Art of History by Lisa Gail Collins 37-63

In Class: Discussion
After Class: Chapter One of Creating Their Own Image “The Image” pp. 1-25

Week 6
In Class: Discussion
After Class: Chapter 4 of Black Feminist Thought “Mammies, Matriarchs, and other Controlling Images” pp. 69-96 

In Class: “The ‘Rememory’ of Slavery” Gwendolyn Shaw in Seeing the Unspeakable: The Art of Kara Walker pp. 37-65
After Class: “Censorship and Reception” Gwendolyn Shaw in Seeing the Unspeakable: The Art of Kara Walker pp. 104-123

Week 7
In Class: Discussion
After Class: Chapter Nine “Conceptualism Art as Idea” Lisa Fairington in Creating Their Own Image pp. 204-229

In Class: Discussion, Analytical Assignment Instructions
After Class: Chapter 3 “The Nineteenth Century Professional Vanguard” in Creating Their Own Image Fairington pp. 50-75

Week 8
In Class: Discussion
After Class: Chapter 4 and 5 “The Harlem Renaissance and the New Negro” and “The New Negro and the New Deal” in Creating Their Own Image Lisa Fairington pp. 76-115

In Class: Discussion, Analytical Assignment Proposals Due
After Class: “Naked, Neutered, or Noble: The Black Female Body in America and the Problem of Photographic History” Carla Williams in Skin Deep, Spirit Strong: The Black Female Body in American Culture pp. 182-200


On Spirit and Sexuality

Week 9
In Class: Discussion
After Class: Chapter 5 “The Power of Self-Definition” Patricia Hill Collins Black Feminist Thought pp. 97-121, “Womanist” – Alice Walker pp. 19 of The Womanist Reader

In Class: Discussion
After Class: “’Will the Circle Be Unbroken’: African American Women’s Spirituality in Sacred Song Traditions” – Lisa Pertillar Brevard, “The Church of Aretha” – Margo V. Perkins in My Soul is a Witness pp. 32-47, 128-30, “Womanist Theology: Black Women’s Voices” – Delores Williams pp. 117-125 of The Womanist Reader

Week 10
In Class: Discussion
After Class: Chapter 4 “Bringing Beauty from Above: Spirituality and Creativity” in Soul Talk pp. 108-140

In Class: TBA
After Class: TBA

Week 11 – Assignment Proposals
In Class: Discussion
After Class: “The Erotics of a Healing Subjectivity: Sexual Desire, the Spirit, and the Divine Nature of Trickster” in Mutha is Half a Word! by L.H. Stallings 113-149

In Class: Discussion
After Class: “Representin’ for the Bitches: Queen B(?) in Hip Hop Culture in Mutha is Half a Word! by L.H. Stallings 256-279

Week 12
In Class: Discussion
After Class: “Bad Sistas: Black Women Rappers and Sexual Politics in Rap Music” in Black Noise pp. 146-182

In Class: TBA
After Class: TBA

Week 13 – Analytical Assignment Due
In Class: TBA
After Class: TBA

In Class: TBA
After Class: TBA

© Bettina Judd 2014-2016. All rights reserved.