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

Spring 2008

HIS 350L • Black Women in America-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor


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 in the United States sought to invent themselves as historical agents despite economic, social, and political challenges, Morrison's statement will, in many ways, form the basis of our intellectual journey.

To that end, the course will use primary sources, historical monographs, and essays to provide a chronological and thematic overview of the experiences of black women in America from their African roots to the circumstances they face in the present era. This seminar class will be discussion driven and will address the following topics: the evolution of African American women's history 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 role of black women in the modern civil rights and black power movements; the rise of organized black feminism; and the contemporary struggles of black women and girls in American society.

Grading Policy

10 Weekly Reading Synopses (1-3 pages) 30% Book Review/ Critique (4-6 pages) 20% Primary Source Essay (6-8 pages) 30% Leading Class Discussion/ Participation 20%


Harriet A. Jacobs/ Linda Brent. Incidents in the Life of Slave Girl: Written by Herself. (any edition) Tera Hunter. To 'Joy My Freedom: Black Women's Lives and Labor after the Civil War. Harvard University Press, 1998. Deborah Gray White. To Heavy a Load: Black Women in Defense of Themselves, 1894-1994. New York: WW Norton, 1998. Victoria Wolcott. Remaking Respectability: African American Women in Interwar Detroit. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001. Bettye Collier-Thomas and V.P. Franklin,eds. Sisters in the Struggle: African American Women in the Civil Rights- Black Power Movement. New York: New York University Press, 2001. Veronica Chambers. Mamas Girl. New York: Riverhead Books, 1996.


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