WOST 293C: Black Women in the U.S.
Racism, Sexism, & Community

Jeannine M. Marks
Fall 2001 TTh 11:15-12:30, Room: STK 114
Office Hours: Tuesday 12:45-1:30 (& by appointment)
Office: Bartlett 208A Mailbox: 208 Bartlett
Email: jmarks@complit.umass.edu (preferred) Tel: 545-1922 (message only)

Course Description:
The course examines Black women's struggles for racial and gender equality in the U.S. from slavery to the present. By virtue of being members of competing social groups (e.g. woman, mother, worker, Black, heterosexual/lesbian, feminist), Black women are often torn between group allegiances and issues. Emphasis will be on the achievements of Black women as agents of social change to balance these tensions and advance their social position. Readings will highlight instances in which Black women challenge the status quo through political activism, grassroots community organizing, work, writing, as well as everyday acts of resistance.

Course Requirements:

  1. Regular attendance is required for this course and necessary for group discussions. 10% of your final grade. You are allowed 2 unexcused absences, more than this will lower your final grade by 1 full letter. If you are unable to attend class due to illness or are otherwise unavailable, please notify me in advance as well as provide the appropriate documentation. This is your responsibility. Attendance is not fulfilled by your physical presence. You must also participate in class activities.
  2. Participation.10% of your grade. You are expected to come to class fully prepared having read the materials assigned for the day. There will be serious group discussion of materials and you are expected to participate. (3% = for process of term paper)
  3. Short Paper. 25 % of your grade. You are expected to hand in one short paper of 3-4 pages due October 9, 2001.
  4. Presentation. 20% of your grade. Everyone is required to give one class presentation on the course readings. Each presentation should be 5-10 minutes, no less than 5. Be prepared to answer class questions and lead class discussion. DO NOT TELL US WHAT WE ALREADY KNOW FROM READING IT OURSELVES. INTERPRET THE READING.
  5. Final Paper. 35% of your final grade. The paper must be 6-8 pages in length, typed and double-spaced, and must include a bibliography. Process involves brainstorm, rough draft, and peer review, all of which count for 3% of your participation grade. Due December 17, 2001.

Final Grade = 10 % Attendance
10% Participation
20% Presentation
25% Short Paper
35% Final Paper

Required Books (4)
-Jacqueline Jones. Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work, and the Family from Slavery to the Present. New York: Vintage Books, 1995.

-Zora Neale Hurston. Their Eyes Were Watching God. New York: Harper, 1998.

-Gloria Naylor. The Women of Brewster Place. New York: Penguin Books, 1982.

-Course Reader: WOST 293C Black Women in the U.S

Reader available from WOST office
Books available at Food for Thought,
106 North Pleasant St., Amherst

Course Calendar

Course Introduction: Laying the Groundwork
9/6 Introduction to the course and each other

9/11 Jones: Introduction
Lourde, "Age, Race, Class and Sex: Women Redefining Difference"
Washington, Chapter 3: The Past as Prologue

9/13 Jones: Chapter 1 (pp11-43)

Liberation & Self Definition
9/18 Jones: Chapter 2 (pp44-79)

Defining Women Redefining Black Womanhood
Reader: Sojourner Truth, Anna Julia Cooper, Mary Church Terrell

Reader: Angela Davis, Chapter 6
Paula Giddings, Chapter 5

Black Women, Work & Family 1880-1915
Jones: Chapter 3 (pp79-109)

The Black Women's Club Movement
Reader: Giddings, Chapter 6
Davis, Chapter 8
Reader: Ida Wells-Barnett
Video: Ida B Wells

Black Women, Work & Family 1880-1915 Lynching
Jones: Chapter 4 (pp110-151)

Black Women & Suffrage
Jones: Chapter 5 (pp152-195)
Reader: Alice Dunbar Nelson

10/9 Reader: Giddings, Chapter 7
Giddings, Chapter 9
Giddings, Chapter 11
Short Paper Due in Class

WWII, CRM, and Feminism: Changing the American Social Landscape
Jones: Chapter 6 (pp196-231)

10/16 Jones: Chapter 7 (pp232-274)

Community or Women's Rights?: Negotiating and Achieving
Reader: Giddings, Chapter 17
Anne Standley

What was learned from these struggles?
Jones: Chapter 8 (pp257-321)

10/25 Jones: Epilogue (pp322-336)
Reader: Giddings, Chapter 19
Introduction: Zora Neale Hurston

Reflections in Literature
Hurston pp 1-100
Discussion: have at least half finished Hurston!

Images of Black Womanhood
Struggles between Self & Community
Hurston pp100-to end
11/6 Discuss Hurston

Black Feminist Thought
Images of Black Women
Reader: Patricia Hill Collins, Chapter 2
Collins, Chapter 4
Note: You should have started your brainstorm

The Case of Motherhood
Reader: Collins, Chapter 6
Giddings, Chapter 18
Morgan, "Strongblackwomen"
Note: You should have started your brainstorm

Black Women & Reproductive Rights
Violence Against Black Women
Reader: Davis, Chapter 12
Hammonds Davis, Chapter 11
Brainstorm: Questions for Final Paper Due in Class

11/20 No class
11/21-11/25 "Thanksgiving" Break
FYI: Begin Reading Naylor over Break

Black Women & Hip-Hop Cultural Commidification/Reality?
What is Black English?
Reader: Morgan, "from fly-girls to bitches & hos"
Clarence Lusane. "Rap, Race & Politics"

Barbara Ransby & Tracye Matthews. "Black Popular
Culture & The Transcendence of Patriarchal Illusions"

Part II: Reflections in Literature
Gloria Naylor. The Women of Brewster Place pp1-96

12/4 Naylor, pp96-192

12/6 Rough Draft Due in class
Discuss Naylor

Rough Draft of Final Paper Due in Class/ Peer Review Exchange
Return papers to partner on Friday or Monday

12/11 Reader: Washington, Chapter 8 & Chapter 9
Discuss Naylor & Washington

12/13 Closing Remarks

12/17 Final Paper Due, No Exceptions
Mailbox, Bartlett 208