Pearl Cleage and Free Womanhood

Essays on Her Prose Works

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About the Book

This collection of essays examines popular writer Pearl Cleage’s work, including her novels, short stories and plays. It is the first book-length consideration of a writer and activist whose bold perspectives on social justice, race and gender have been influential for several decades. While academically critical, the essays mirror Cleage’s own philosophical commitment to theoretical transparency and translation. The book includes an in-depth interview with the author and a foreword by former Cleage student and acclaimed novelist Tayari Jones in addition to essays from contributors representing an interdisciplinary cross-section of academic fields.

About the Author(s)

Tikenya Foster-Singletary teaches African American literature at Spelman College in Atlanta. Her research interests include country music and she has been a featured speaker on People TV and contributed to The Encyclopedia of Hip Hop Literature. Her work has also been published in Obsidian and the MAWA Review.
Aisha Francis, a Nashville native living in Boston, was recently named one of that city’s Top 40 Under 40 business leaders. Her academic interests are African American literature and women’s studies, and she has written for Obsidian, The Encyclopedia of African American Literature, and The Encyclopedia of Black Studies. She is vice president of institutional advancement at Crittenton Women’s Union in Boston.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Tikenya Foster-Singletary and Aisha Francis
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 213
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6586-6
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9201-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii

Foreword: These Pages Are My Proof

PEARL CLEAGE      1

Foreword

TAYARI JONES      3

Introduction      7

PART I : CLEAGE AS NOVELIST

An “Urban Oasis”: Pearl Cleage’s West End Imaginary

MARGARET T. MCGEHEE      15

Over the Rainbow: Finding Home in West End Atlanta

RHONDA M. COLLIER      37

Being Neighborly: Performance in Seen It All and Done the Rest

SHANNA L. SMITH      49

What Looks Like New: Narrative Call for Social Change

RASHELL R. SMITH-SPEARS      63

Critical Thinking Is for Everyone: Social Work as the Praxis of Communal Love in I Wish I Had a Red Dress

AISHA FRANCIS      78

An Ode to Black Feminism: Reciprocal Empowerment and Anti-Sexism in I Wish I Had a Red Dress and Some Things I Never Thought I’d Do

MONICA L. MELTON      95

Shattering Silence: Pearl Cleage and Black Female Sexual Empowerment

SANDRA C. DUVIVIER      110

PART II: MULTIMEDIA CLEAGE: PLAYS, ESSAYS AND THE DIGITAL DIVIDE

Teaching Feminist Lessons in Late Bus to Mecca

AMA S. WATTLEY      127

Pearl Cleage as a Dirty Realist

KELLY DELONG      140

The Blues, Psychosis, and the Black Arts Movement in Bourbon at the Border

LADRICA MENSON-FURR      146

Social Mediation: Pearl Cleage and the Digital Divide

SHEILA SMITH MCKOY      154

In Context: Teaching Pearl Cleage in Southwest Atlanta

TIKENYA FOSTER-SINGLETARY      166

Backtalk: Respectability as Repression and Pearl Cleage’s Incitement to Discourse

ALEXIA WILLIAMS      176

A Conversation with Pearl Cleage

TIKENYA FOSTER-SINGLETARY AND AISHA FRANCIS      182

About the Contributors      203

Index      205