This website was created in 2013 as part of a college course that I designed called “African American Women’s Rhetorics.” That course offered an introductory examination into black women’s discourses across essays, speeches, letters, art, dance, scholarship, song, and theory. I hoped that this digital space— sitting outside of the empire-based conceptions of learning and knowing that today’s corporate universities often manifest— would allow for a more dynamic and interactive, embodied experience with black women’s discourses. To put it most simply, it was just impossible to create another syllabus using paper in an age where meaning is made through multimedia. And since I have chosen to forego a university’s digital interface, we are here. We are not off the grid, but we have chosen our own grid. That 2013 course and the classes in its wake today— courses and experiences related to gender studies from my own unique vantage point as a Black Feminist— will all be located here at this space. Welcome!
Fall 2015 witnesses this site moving more explicitly into gender studies courses. Rooted in a program firmly dedicated to interdisciplinary and intersectional approaches to analyses of gender, I am using: 1) women of color feminisms, 2) queer theory— particularly queer of color critique, 3) masculinities studies, 4) trans studies, and 5) Hip Hop Feminism as lens and location. These lenses and locations offer the most compelling sites for understanding contemporary structural oppression, challenges to and definitions for feminist theory, and new openings for rethinking gender and social control. Though there is no assumption that we will end this class with a complete or exhaustive study of gender studies, these lenses and locations lead us straight into what a Black Feminist Rhetorician would consider the most compelling ideas to take up for the 21st century: the body and its performances, pleasures, and policing; radical subjectivities within lived experiences of oppression; social rules under language and power; immigration, imperialism, diaspora, and agency in the culture of neoliberalism. Through fall 2015, these 5 lenses and locations will be built into the website. Based on students’ and colleagues’ suggestions, more texts will be added to the site so bear with us and stay tuned!
The curriculum of the gender studies courses collected at this website asks students to locate themselves along multiple intersectional axes and claim who they are and the world they are building. Doing that work from within my own standpoint as Black Feminist Rhetorician offers some integrity to that request… which this website makes at least one kind of attempt at mirroring. To riff off Chayna Ashley’s song (playing in the background; for her video, click here), it’s time to “Think B.I.G.” and like C Ash, I hope to embrace that “Thinking” in the way that she does: with the full knowledge of what has come before and the world we must will into the future.