Elsa Barkley Brown
Associate Professor, The Harriet Tubman Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Associate Professor and Associate Chair, History
2101 Woods Hall
African American/African Diaspora
Black Feminist Thought
Critical Race Theory
My primary interests are in African-American political culture, with an emphasis on gender. This takes me in exciting and varied directions from a focus on citizenship and rights to literal and conceptual maps of the daily lives and worldviews of African Americans in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to explorations of contemporary African American women visual artists’ and filmmakers’ engagements with history. Always I am conceptually most interested in unraveling the oft unseen work inherent in our daily lives – the work of friendship, the work of day-to-day political organizing, the work of creativity, and most importantly, the work of collectivity. A driving passion of all my explorations is a firm belief that community is an ongoing process located/rooted in the work that people do to continuously create it and possible only when gumbo ya ya (everybody talks at once) rather than conventional consensus is given full rein. Central to this is a concern for the work of narrative –from the stories black mothers have traditionally told their daughters to the retellings of histories that often undergird political rhetoric and, especially, the cherished stories students bring into the classroom and hold to so intently.
My teaching commitments and interests include courses in social movements, women’s arts activisms, constructions of black manhood and womanhood, black women’s arts and culture, African American women’s history.
Major Areas of Research: Theories of Collectivity and Citizenship Political Narrative African American Political Culture Black Women’s Arts and Culture Black Gender Studies
Selected Courses: Black Women and the Art and Politics of Improvisation: A Meditation on Methodology (graduate) Black Women in U.S. History (graduate) Black Women’s Arts and Culture (undergraduate/graduate) Women and the Civil Rights Movement (undergraduate) African Americans and the Movies, 1890s-1990s (undergraduate) Women and Film (undergraduate) Women, Art and Culture (undergraduate) Constructions of Black Manhood and Womanhood (at undergraduate and at graduate level) Introduction to Black Women’s Studies (undergraduate) African American Internationalisms (graduate)
"What Has Happened Here": The Politics of Difference in Women's History and Feminist Politics
Elsa Barkley Brown's important article in Feminist Studies
The Harriet Tubman Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
"What Has Happened Here": The Politics of Difference in Women's History and Feminist Politics argues for an approach to difference in women's history that centers "gumbo ya ya" ("Everybody talking at once") rather than privileging one set of voices over another.