Black Women WritersFrom Phillis Wheatley to Toni Morrison to Jesmyn Ward, Black women writers have directly and indirectly influenced literary production. Virtually every major literary prize has gone to a Black women writer at least once. Other Black women writers have published bestsellers that did not obtain them literary prizes, but did make them rich and, in some cases, (briefly) famous. Many more published works that were innovative and influential but garnered their authors neither recognition nor recompense.
This course will be a broad, multi-genre examination of the ways in which Black women writers have directed the trajectories of literature. Each of the writers we will read this quarter is unique, complex and from a broad range of backgrounds and cultures. Yet, as Black women writers they possess the distinct ability to make us profoundly conscious of what harms, degrades, denies development and destroys. These women also use writing to illuminate various ways of resistance and resilience. We will also highlight the works of women writers who consider the evolving roles of women in society. Finally, we will consider the factors and figures influential in the reception of their work.