Major African Diaspora Women Writers, 1890 to Present: Contemporary Women Writers

English 4489/7489
Contemporary Woman Writers of the African Diaspora
Section 1
Sheri-Marie Harrison

In recent years, we have seen a boom in non-fiction writing by women in the African Diaspora. Popular books like Roxane Gay’s Hunger, Shonda Rhimes’ The Year of Yes, Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want to Talk About Race, Luvvie Ajayi’s I’m Judging You, Issa Rae’s The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl and Pheobe Robinson’s You Cant Touch My Hair are Amazon bestsellers before they are even published and are a ubiquitous presence on the New York Times Best Sellers List. What this tells us is that their brand (and I use this word intentionally) of writing in honest, candid, instructive, sometimes serious, often hilarious terms about race, gender, body image, and what it means to be a successful black woman working in media today, is on trend and in demand. In this course, we will read a selection of these popular non-fictional texts, written by black women, not to gain the keys to building a successful media empire like Shondaland, but rather to think about black femaleness as a brand, to learn about how black women are writing about race, gender, and politics in the popular rather than literary sphere, and most importantly, to think about what is conventional or not about this writing, and how can recognizing these help to map the contemporary space of non-fictional writing by black women.