Caught up in the Spirit! Teaching for Womanist Liberation

Gary L. Lemons
Department of English, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA

Series: Women’s Issues
BISAC: SOC028000

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Special issue: Resilience in breaking the cycle of children’s environmental health disparities
Edited by I Leslie Rubin, Robert J Geller, Abby Mutic, Benjamin A Gitterman, Nathan Mutic, Wayne Garfinkel, Claire D Coles, Kurt Martinuzzi, and Joav Merrick

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Caught in the Spirit! Teaching for Womanist Liberation promotes the author’s work in the college classroom as a black male professor of womanism. First and foremost, this book illustrates the self-transformative power of Alice Walker’s concept of a “womanist.” Caught Up in the Spirit! also foregrounds powerful writings by students who have studied African American literature with the author.

Today, Alice Walker and bell hooks, among other leading gender progressive black women and women of color, have conceptualized an inclusive vision of feminism that is open to all people.

As a pedagogical case study documenting students’ work across differences of race, gender, class, sexuality, and nation-state to embrace womanism through strategic dialogue, the author aims to show:

1) That the African American struggle for racial equality must be inextricably linked to the eradication of patriarchal, sexist, classist, and homophobic notions of black identity; and
2) that black feminist intersectional theory offers all students (of color as well as white students) a liberatory experience of pro-feminist, womanist black female and male authors writing to call out and stand against all forms of oppression and domination.

Acknowledgements

Preface

Introduction. In the Spirit of Zora—Traveling with the “Eternal Feminine”

Chapter 1. Returning to the Margin—Changed

Chapter 2. African American Literature: Like a Bridge over Troubled Water

Part I

- Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes: Envisioning the (New) “Negro Artist”

Chapter 3. Striking Down Colorism in Color Struck: A Play in Four Scenes

Chapter 4. We are Not Tragically Colored

Chapter 5. Langston Hughes Writing about the “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain”

Chapter 6. Transgressing Boundaries of White Male Power in The Ways of White Folks

Part II

- Blackness from the Inside Out

Chapter 7. Seeing “Women Loving Women”

Chapter 8. “What If Mama finds out?” Entering a Life-Changing Place of Self-Liberation

Chapter 9. When “Nobody was Lesbian, Nobody was Feminist, Nobody was Gay”

Part III

- "Still Children of the Night": Survivors against the Odds

Chapter 10. Black Boys’ Lives Still Matter: In Search of a Loving Father

Chapter 11. “Spilled Salt” on a Black Mother’s Table and the Struggle for Maternal Survival

Chapter 12. No Shame: Recovering Our Mother’s Way(s) of Being

Chapter 13. Getting to the Heart of the Lessons: Black Women Teaching “Other” Ways of Loving

Epilogue: Continuing to Teach in the Image of "An Alternative Black Man"

References

Author Contact Information

Index

Awkward, Michael. Scenes of Instruction: a Memoir. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. 1999. Print.
“Foreword.” Fire! A Quarterly Devoted to the Younger Negro Artists. 1.1 (1926). Print.
hooks, bell. Feminist Theory from Margin to Center. Boston, MA: South End Press. 1984. Print.
____. Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black. Boston, MA: South End Press. 1989. Print.
____. Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. New York: Routledge. 1994. Print.
____. Killing Rage: Ending Racism. New York: Henry Holt and Company. 1995. Print.
____. All About Love: New Visions. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc. 2000. Print.
____. Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope. New York: Routledge. 2003. Print.
____. We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity. New York: Routledge. 2004. Print.
____. Teaching Critical Thinking: Practical Wisdom. New York: Routledge. 2010. Print.
Hughes, Langston. The Ways of White Folks. 1934. New York: Random House, Inc., 1990. Print.
____. “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain.” 1926. The Norton Anthology of African American Literature. eds. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Nellie Y. McKay. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 2004. Print.
Hull, Gloria Akasha. Soul Talk: The New Spirituality of African American Women. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International. 2001. Print.
Hurston, Zora Neale. Color Struck: A Play in Four Scenes. Fire!! A Quarterly Devoted to the Younger Negro Artists. 1.1 (1926): 7—14. Print.
____. “How It Feels to Be Colored Me.” 1928. The Norton Anthology of African American Literature. eds. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Nellie Y. McKay. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 2004. Print.
Lemons, Gary L. Black Male Outsider, a Memoir: Teaching as a Pro-Feminist Man. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. 2008. Print.
McMillan, Terry, ed. Breaking Ice: An Anthology of Contemporary African-American Fiction. New York: Penguin Books. 1990. Print.
Moraga, Cherríe and Gloria Anzaldúa, eds., This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, 2nd ed. New York: Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press. 1983. Print.
Naylor, Gloria, ed. The Best Short Stories by Black Writers 1967—1995. Boston, MA: Little Brown and Company. 1995. Print.
Walker, Alice. In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, 1983. Print.
____. “The Black Writer and the Southern Experience.” In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, 1983. Print.
White, Aaronette M., ed. African Americans Doing Feminism: Putting Theory into Practice. New York: State University of New York Press, 2010. Print.


First and foremost, this book is written for educators, students, and administrators—from high school to college level. Also, this book aims to attract individuals in professional organizations committed to human rights and social justice activism. I have also purposed this book to appeal to all classes of people—in and outside academic and professional arenas. Sharing stories of personal survival against systemic and institutionalized oppression and domination, my students and I—in dialogue—aim to bring ALL people together across differences to embrace the writings in this book.

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