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Products for grant FT-58636-11

In Control of Her Narrative: A Biography of Nellie Y. McKay [1930?-2006]
Shanna Benjamin, Grinnell College

Grant details:

Strategies Not Truths: Nellie Y. McKay and the Art of Self-Construction (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Strategies Not Truths: Nellie Y. McKay and the Art of Self-Construction
Author: Shanna Greene Benjamin
Abstract: In 2006, Nellie Y. McKay passed away after losing a hard-fought battle with cancer. Shortly before her passing, McKay shared a secret she had kept hidden from even her closest friends: not only was McKay a divorced mother of two, but the supposedly sixty-something-year-old scholar was also at least ten years older than her colleagues believed her to be. “Strategies not Truths” examines letters from McKay’s thirty-year correspondence with Historian Nell Painter to explore how McKay’s letters challenge the assumed candor of epistolary writing and, instead, mirror her academic perspectives on women writing autobiography.
Date: 11/11/2011
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: National Women's Studies Association conference website.
Secondary URL:
Secondary URL Description: Shanna Benjamin's presentation link, from the conference schedule.
Conference Name: National Women's Studies Association Conference

"Intimacy and Ephemera: In Search of Our Mother's Letters" (Article)
Title: "Intimacy and Ephemera: In Search of Our Mother's Letters"
Author: Shanna Greene Benjamin
Abstract: How do scholars understand the era before African American literature was a discipline, a job category, and a canon? How did we get here, and who made it possible? I discovered answers to these questions after I came into possession of a previously unpublished and brief history of the _Norton Anthology of African American Literature_ while conducting research for _Half in Shadow: The Life and Legacy of Nellie Y. McKay_, the book I am currently writing. This project is not only motivated by my interest in the role black women played in the development of African American literature but also, I regret to say, by my fear of losing what is in our power to save: ephemera related to black intellectual history and the twentieth-century canonization of African American literature—namely, those documents held by individuals who may be unaware of the scholarly value of items in their possession.This essay offers a case study in how practicing intimacy as a methodology, which I define as “invisible trustbuilding work that initiates or facilitates the recovery and reconstitution of the lives and literature of black women," enriches critical analysis and reveals how the methodology can be employed to acquire the ephemera that feeds black print culture scholarship.
Year: 2015
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: link
Access Model: Open access
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: MELUS
Publisher: Oxford University Press