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Books Aren’t Dead: Women’s Work: Nationalism and Contemporary African American Women’s Novels

In this month’s BAD interview, Tasia Milton (Ph.D. Candidate, Rutgers University) talks with Courtney Thorsson (Assistant Professor, University of Oregon), author of Women’s Work: Nationalism and Contemporary African American Women’s Novels (Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 2013).

 

 About Women’s Work: Nationalism and Contemporary African American Women’s Novels

In Women’s Work, Courtney Thorsson reconsiders the gender, genre, and geography of African American nationalism as she explores the aesthetic history of African American writing by women. Building on and departing from the Black Arts Movement, the literary fiction of such writers as Toni Cade Bambara, Paule Marshall, Gloria Naylor, Ntozake Shange, and Toni Morrison employs a cultural nationalism—practiced by their characters as “women’s work”—that defines a distinct contemporary literary movement, demanding attention to the continued relevance of nation in post–Black Arts writing. Identifying five forms of women’s work as organizing, dancing, mapping, cooking, and inscribing, Thorsson shows how these writers reclaimed and revised cultural nationalism to hail African America.

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