Associate Professor — Ph.D.
Associate Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies
- E-mail: email@example.com
- Office: BEL 241A
- Campus Mail Code: E3400
AFR 372C • Postcolonial Women Writers
TTH 1100am-1230pm PAR 308
(also listed as
C L 323, WGS 340 )
Professor Omise’eke N. Tinsley
Postcolonial Women Writers
"All Women Everywhere"?:
Postcolonial Women Writers in the 21st Century
In September 1995, at the United Nations’ Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, participants committed that, by the end of the 20th century, all governments should "determine to advance the goals of equality, development and peace for all women everywhere in the interest of all humanity." But after the first decade of the 21st century, have these goals been significantly advanced? How do women across the world view their positions as citizens, migrants, workers, parents, activists, and artists in this new millennium? This course explores answers to these questions by engaging literary work published by postcolonial women writers in the past decade. The creative texts that we consider question whether the effects of imperialism have ended in women’s lives; whether Western feminisms have developed to address Global Southern women’s needs; and what new possibilities for decolonization, feminism, and creativity remain to be explored. Theoretical, historical, and literary readings centering these problematics will challenge students to complicate easy divisions between feminism and postcoloniality, and to think creatively about how relationships between the two inform historical and contemporary cultures of globalization.
available at UT Co-op Bookstore
Brother, I’m Dying
Lose Your Mother
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,
What We All Long For
In this course, students engage texts that deal explicitly with (post)colonialism, slavery, racism, sexism, religious discrimination, child abuse, poverty, state violence, genocide, human rights violations, sexual violence, same-sex sexuality, and embodiment. While the professor will provide historical contexts and academic frameworks for discussing these issues, many students may be unfamiliar with them and so may initially experience emotional responses as they confront their own privilege and oppression, ignorance and knowledge. The professor asks that students pay attention to such feelings and note where they challenge their ability to approach texts analytically. I also ask that everyone come to class willing to discuss these difficult, complex topics with openness and respect. Expressions of First World-ism, racism, classism, religious intolerance, homophobia,
heterosexism, ableism, or sexism will not be tolerated. Instead, I expect students to take seriously the responsibility involved in university education in general, and in reading works that document violence and social injustice in particular. As part of this responsibility, I ask students to consider carefully how social and geopolitical positioning shapes what they do and do not react to, and complicates their relationships to texts in different ways.
1. Critical thinking—spoken and written statements reflect thoughtful, careful attention to subjects at hand; demonstrate independent, original thought; and include specific, properly documented references to all sources.
2. Inquisitiveness—classroom participation shows willingness to ask questions about aspects of readings/discussions that remain unclear, and to seek additional information
3. Making connections beyond the classroom—spoken and written statements express when a reading speaks to your particular experiences, interest, or knowledge.
4. Creativity— spoken and written statements express willingness to engage new topics with imagination and flexibility. Imagining differently is the first step in changing the social injustices that we will engage!
Class Participation: 30% of final grade
The goal of this course is to experiment with sharing and creating knowledge of multiple literatures, cultures, histories, identities, and experiences in an intellectual community—our class—that includes as many diverse, creative viewpoints possible. To build such community, the following kinds of class participation will be required of all students (each about 6% of final grade):
: Please come to every class session on time, and take care of yourself through flu season to make sure this is possible. If you must be absent, notify the instructor and arrange to get notes beforehand in order to avoid lowering your attendance grade.
Timely completion of readings
: Finish assigned reading before arriving in class so that we can have meaningful discussions.
Share thoughts and questions with the class
: Speaking to a group is a skill benefits students not only in other classes, but in almost any career. For this reason, you will be asked to come to class with specific questions, notes, reactions, and analyses to share with the group, and to communicate these and other observations during our discussions. Everyone’s input is valued!
: From time to time, students will be asked to free write or answer targeted questions in class. Please come ready to be creative.
Small group work
: Periodically, students will also be asked to consider questions or topics in small groups and report back to the larger group. Active participation with your colleagues will be a vital part of sharing knowledge and creating community, and you are encouraged to talk freely!
Response papers: 30% of final grade
On the last day of discussion of each primary text, students will come to class with 1-2 page written responses to the readings. These responses will be critical analyses of the text, rather than emotional or autobiographical reflections. Responses will be turned in and commented on by the instructor.
Writing group participation: 10% of final grade
Every Friday following the first week of class, students will use class time to meet in writing groups of 4 people. (These groups will be formed during the first week of classes.) During these sessions, students will share and receive feedback on their ideas, challenges, and work-in-progress as develop their final writing portfolio. At the end of the semester, students will submit a copy of their commented versions of their group members’ written work to the professor. Students are encouraged to provide specific, constructive, and honest feedback on all work, and to expect the same in return. Writing collectively is a great way to build intellectual and personal community: this is meant to be an experience to enjoy!
Writing portfolio: 30% of final grade
Part of learning about postcolonial women’s writing in this class will include giving students the opportunity to explore and expand their own voices as creative writers. At the end of the semester, students will submit a writing portfolio including 12-20 pages of their own creative prose, workshopped throughout the semester in writing groups. Possible genres include short stories, (excerpts from) novels, creative non-fiction, and autobiography. All writing must engage postcolonial and feminist themes, and students will submit a 2-3 page rationale explaining how their work converses with writers, theories, and ideas explored in assigned readings.
Office hours are a chance for students to introduce themselves, ask questions, discuss difficulties, explore ideas, and receive support and suggestions. In my experience, students who come to talk outside of class both get more out of the course and produce work (and receive grades) they are happier with. Students are invited to attend as often as they like, and arrangements to meet outside posted hours can be made.
AFR 388 • Women Of Color Feminisms
M 900am-1200pm BEL 232
(also listed as
WGS 393 )
“Nothing Less than to Imagine Another System of Value”: Postcolonial Feminism and The Work of Imagination “Calling for a black feminist criticism is to do nothing less than to imagine another system of value, one in which black women have value.” --Grace Hong
Recent postcolonial feminist criticism, including the beautiful new writing of M. Jacqui Alexander and Saidiya Hartman, argues persuasively that to tell meaningful stories of black and brown womanhood—and particularly of women of color’s sexuality—traditional scholarship, and particularly academic work which relies on the archive, can never suffice. While archives may be a point of departure, they posit, scholars must turn to creative methodologies to intuit and imagine narratives of postcolonial women’s freedom: a freedom that has remained an impossibility in official discourses but that must be invented even where it did not exist in the past, in order that it might exist in the future. In this course we will dialogue with recent postcolonial feminist scholarship that explores the particular importance of imaginative work in theorizing the histories, politics, and intimacies that women of color participate in and contest. Focusing on—and challenging the boundary between—imaginative scholarship and creative literary texts as two types of narrative theorizing, this seminar aims to open space for students to experiment with creative methodologies in their own work.
Saidiya Hartman, Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route
Jamaica Kincaid, Autobiography of My Mother
Grace Cho, Haunting the Korean Diaspora: Shame, Secrecy, and the Forgotten War
Jessica Hagedorn, Dream Jungle
M. Jacqui Alexander, Pedagogies of Crossing: Meditations on Feminism, Sexual Politics, Memory, and the Sacred
Nalo Hopkinson, The Salt Roads
Gayatri Gopinath, Impossible Desires: Queer Diasporas and South Asian Public Cultures
Shani Mootoo, Valmiki’s Daughter
Kara Keeling, The Witch’s Flight: The Cinematic, The Black Femme, and the Image of Common Sense
Sharon Bridgforth, love conjure/ blues
AFR 372E • Black Women And Dance
MWF 1100am-1200pm MEZ 1.120
(also listed as
WGS 340 )
What does it mean for Black women to dance the guns to silence, as activist-artist Ken Saro Wiwa put it; that is, to use our moving, creative, powerful bodies to respond to the violences of racism and sexism, and to envision new ways of being and moving in the world? This course journeys towards answers to this question by exploring women’s participation in ritual, concert, and social dance in North America, Haiti, Cuba, Brazil. We will work through readings, viewings, and stagings, and interweave text, movement, and action to encourage students’ artistic as well as academic self-expression. Some of the questions we explore include: How can we view and create artistic work while still keeping social justice issues in mind? How do embodied practices become modes of organizing communities? How can we decipher the fragile histories that we carry and move through in our own bodies?
AFR 372C • Postcolonial Women Writers
MWF 200pm-300pm GEA 114
(also listed as
E 370W )
Instructor: Tinsley, O Areas: V / G
Unique #: 35618 Flags: n/a
Semester: Fall 2012 Restrictions: n/a
Cross-lists: AFR 372C, C L 323 Computer Instruction: No
Prerequisites: Nine semester hours of coursework in English or rhetoric and writing.
Description: In September 1995, at the United Nations’ Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, participants committed that, by the end of the 20th century, all governments should “determine to advance the goals of equality, development, and peace for all women everywhere in the interest of all humanity.” But after the first decade of the 21st century, have these goals been significantly advanced? How do women across the world view their positions as citizens, migrants, workers, parents, activists, and artists in this new millennium? This course explores answers to these questions by engaging literary work published by postcolonial women writers in the past decade. The creative texts that we consider question whether the effects of imperialism have ended in women’s lives; whether Western feminisms have developed to address Global Southern women’s needs; and what new possibilities for decolonization, feminism, and creativity remain to be explored. Theoretical, historical, and literary readings centering these problematics will challenge students to complicate easy divisions between feminism and postcoloniality, and to think creatively about how relationships between the two inform historical and contemporary cultures of globalization.
Texts: Edwidge Danticat, Brother, I’m Dying; Saidiya Hartman, Lose Your Mother; Chiminanda Adichie, Purple Hibiscus; Calixthe Beyala, How to Cook Your Husband the African Way; Dionne Brand, What We All Long For; Nalo Hopkinson, Midnight Robber.
Requirements & Grading: Class Participation, 15%; Midterm, 25%; Final Paper, 25%, Short Book Reviews (5), 35%.