Fall 2023 Undergraduate English Courses

358:381 Black Women in Print

01  MW4    CAC   08189    SANDERS   HH-B3

Black Women in Print:  Strategies of Publishing Literature for the Public Ear

In a letter dated October 5, 1852, Mary Ann Shadd (Cary) asked William Lloyd Garrison, editor of The Liberator, to publish meeting minutes of a fugitive and emigrant community in Windsor, Canada. Shadd appeals to Garrison because this black community had “resolved to speak” about “false reports of destitution” but found that “the great difficulty is to get the public ear” (1). The “difficulty” articulated by Shadd not only frames her specific writing and publishing community, but it also points to a problem faced by black women writers well into the twentieth century. How does one “get the public ear” when writing and theorizing under racial and gendered constraints? What circulation patterns and community practices did black women cultivate in order to address and arrest this public? How might attention to the “public ear” (instead of the reader’s eye) affect black women writers’ relationships to genre conventions, publication networks, and periodical forms? This course explores communal literary and print practices of black women writers—from Frances E. W. Harper, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, and Pauline Hopkins to Barbara Smith, Audre Lorde, and Toni Morrison—as they reimagined black life and living.