Event Title

Negotiating Respectability: Black Women's Struggle for Self-Representation

Presenter Information

Nicole Nance, Oberlin College

Location

Science Center, A255

Start Date

4-25-2014 2:45 PM

End Date

4-25-2014 3:45 PM

Abstract

For African-American women, self-representation is vital because socially constructed images have the ability to moderate power relations between the self and society. While black female self-representation adapts to different eras, it is complicated by the ideologies of uplift and the politics of respectability. These ideologies have mutated from a useful tool for undermining racist structures into empty signifiers that promote a classist environment. My project studies three works—Ida B. Wells’ Crusade for Justice, Nella Larsen’s Quicksand, and Toni Morrison’s Tar Baby—and shows the differing statuses of respectability politics: a tool for self-definition, or a barrier that destabilizes it.

Notes

Session II, Panel 9 - Can You See the Real Me? Analyses of Aesthetics and Representation
Moderator: A.G. Miller, Associate Professor of Religion

Major

English

Advisor(s)

Pam Brooks, Africana Studies
Natasha Tessone, English

Project Mentor(s)

Gillian Johns, English

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Apr 25th, 2:45 PM Apr 25th, 3:45 PM

Negotiating Respectability: Black Women's Struggle for Self-Representation

Science Center, A255

For African-American women, self-representation is vital because socially constructed images have the ability to moderate power relations between the self and society. While black female self-representation adapts to different eras, it is complicated by the ideologies of uplift and the politics of respectability. These ideologies have mutated from a useful tool for undermining racist structures into empty signifiers that promote a classist environment. My project studies three works—Ida B. Wells’ Crusade for Justice, Nella Larsen’s Quicksand, and Toni Morrison’s Tar Baby—and shows the differing statuses of respectability politics: a tool for self-definition, or a barrier that destabilizes it.