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Jacqueline Jones, Chair 128 Inner Campus Dr., Stop B7000, GAR 1.104 Austin, TX 78712-1739 • 512-471-3261

Fall 2003

HIS 350L • Black Women in America-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
36578 TTh
3:30 PM-5:00 PM
GEO 3.222
Gill

Course Description

In a NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE article, Toni Morrison eloquently described the dilemmas of black female identity in a now oft quoted phrase: “…she had nothing to fall back on; not maleness, not whiteness, not ladyhood, not anything. And out of the profound desolation of her reality she may well have invented herself.” By examining the ways in which black women sought to “invent” themselves as historical agents in America despite economic, social, and political challenges, Morrison’s statement will, in many was, form the basis of our intellectual journey.

To that end, the course will use primary sources, historical monographs, and essays and follow a chrono-logical approach to provide a thematic overview to the experiences of black women in America from their African roots and early enslavement to the challenges faced by black women in the present era. This advanced level seminar class will be discussion driven and will address the following topics: the evolution of African American women’s studies as field of inquiry; the effect of slavery on black family structure, labor, and black female sexuality; the role of black female activism in the free black community; the rise of a black female club movement; the relationship between black feminism and nationalism; the impact of urban migration on black female labor and culture; the impact of identity politics on black female conceptions of beauty and self; the role of black women in the modern civil rights and black power movements; the rise of organized black feminism; and will finally address the contemporary issues faced by black women within American society today.

Grading Policy

This course will have a major writing component where students will be required to demonstrate their ability to analyze primary and secondary sources, to think critically about historical issues, and to evaluate the different and sometimes contradictory interpretations of historians. RESPONSE PAPERS: 30% Three 2-4 page response papers on the readings. One of these response papers will be completed in class. Each paper is worth 10%. RESEARCH PAPER (10-15 PAGES): 50% Topics must be approved by the instructor and the paper will be developed and evaluated in stages throughout the semester. Topic Outline and Annotated Bibliography: 10% First Draft: 15% Final Draft: 25% Class Engagement: 20% Active participation in class discussion is essential to this course. In addition, you will be responsible for coming up with discussion questions for at least one of the reading assignments.

Texts

Harriet A. Jacobs, INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF SLAVE GIRL: WRITTEN BY HERSELF Elizabeth Clark- Lewis, LIVING IN, LIVING OUT: AFRICAN AMERICAN DOMESTICS IN WASHINGTON, DC, 1910-1940 Juliette Harris, ed. TENDERHEADED: A COMB-BENDING COLLECTION OF HAIR STORIES Deborah Gray White, TO HEAVY A LOAD: BLACK WOMEN IN DEFENSE OF THEMSELVES, 1894-1994 Belinda Robnett, HOW LONG? HOW LONG? AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN IN THE STRUGGLE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS Mamie Garvin Fields with Karen Fields, LEMON SWAMP AND OTHER PLACES: A CAROLINA MEMOIR Beverly Guy-Sheftall,ed. WORDS OF FIRE: A BLACK FEMINIST ANTHOLOGY

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