Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies

Bad Black Women

(Offered as SWAG 329 and BLST 377 [US].) History has long valorized passive, obedient, and long-suffering black women alongside aggressive and outspoken black male leaders and activists.  This course provides an alternative narrative to this misrepresentation, as we will explore how “bad” is defined by one’s race, gender, class, and sexuality as well as how black women have transgressed the boundaries of what it means to be “good” in U.S. society. We will use an interdisciplinary perspective to examine why black women have used covert and explicit maneuvers to challenge the stereotypical “respectable” or “good” black woman and the various risks and rewards they incur for their “deviance.” In addition to analyzing black women’s literature, we will study black women’s political activism, prostitution, and rising incarceration as well as black women’s nonconformity in art, poetry, music, dance, and film. Students should be aware that part of this course is “immersive” and consequently, students will be asked to participate in a master class that will provide a space for students to learn and explore how dance has been historically used to defy race, class, and gender norms.  Authors, scholars, political activists, and artists include Ida B. Wells, Toni Morrison, Anita Hill, Sapphire, Beth Ritchie, Dorothy West, Lorna Simpson, Donna Kate Rushin, Billie Holiday, and Beyoncé among many others.  Writing Attentive. Expectations include diligent reading, active participation, master dance class, writing projects, weekly critical response papers, a group presentation, and various in-class assignments.

Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Priority given to students who attend the first day of class. Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Tuesday/Thursday 1:00-2:20.

Assistant Professor Henderson.