NEH banner [Return to Query]

Products for grant HB-258040-18

Gender, Segregation, and Urban Life in Literature by African American Women
Jennifer Williams, Morgan State University

Grant details:

“Productive Precarity: African American Writing during the Depression Era” (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: “Productive Precarity: African American Writing during the Depression Era”
Author: Jennifer D. Williams
Abstract: This paper examines Marita Bonner’s Chicago stories that begin in 1933 with the serialized “A Possible Triad of Black Notes” and culminate with “One True Love” (1941). More specifically, I argue that Bonner’s portrayals of Frye Street women upend narratives of domesticity and respectability that characterize New Negro women’s literature. In this way, Bonner anticipates the transition to social realism that was embraced by Alain Locke and further promulgated by Richard Wright in his “Blueprint for Negro Writers” as well as his fiction. Wright, among other mostly male social realists, was preoccupied with how racism and class oppression impacted black men. Hence, social realist fiction often depicts the representative and “authentic” black urban subject as a proletarian male. However, Bonner’s focus on black women workers broadens the “narrow orbit” Wright affords black northern women and privileges black women as urban subjects. Bonner’s representations of urban black womanhood signal the postwar fiction of Ann Petry and Gwendolyn Brooks, whose female protagonists also moved in and throughout the streets of Harlem and Bronzeville.
Date: 07/25/2019
Conference Name: Modern Language Association International Symposium

“‘The North’s Lynch Mobs’: The Afterlife of Segregation” (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: “‘The North’s Lynch Mobs’: The Afterlife of Segregation”
Abstract: This presentation connects the viral “#LivingWhileBlack” videos to a broader narrative of surveilling segregated populations.
Author: Jennifer D. Williams
Date: 11/08/2018
Location: Chapel Hill, NC