"Anna Julia Cooper’s 'Lost' Writings: Shadow-Reading African American Literary History"
Nov 09, 2015
from 12:00 PM to 01:00 PM
|Where||217 Willard Building|
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The Africana Research Center (ARC) Luncheon Series presents:
Associate Professor of English and African American Studies
Taking the case of Anna Julia Cooper, a renowned black woman writer, orator, educator, and activist, this talk argues for a series of returns that take us back to moments when texts by black women writers were ostensibly “lost,” asking what were the mechanisms through which texts became lost, and how have subsequent recoveries sometimes obscured those histories. Establishing Cooper within the vast networks constituting the processes of literary production, I show how she navigated, subverted, and re-shaped the strictures of black print culture to participate in the material production and transmission of ideas, while simultaneously calling attention to the ways race and gender bias worked to curtail that participation. Drawing examples from a largely unexamined archive of Cooper’s writings--including 33 correspondences with W. E. B. Du Bois, Cooper’s 1931-1940 scrapbook, and her work as an editor for the Life and Writings of the Grimke Family--I establish Cooper’s innovative publishing strategies and radical engagements with print culture as integral to, rather than separate from, her astute analyses of, and challenges to, underlying cultural assumptions about race, gender and the politics of knowledge production.