Faculty Publications and Awards
K. Allison Hammer, Senior Lecturer
‘Doing Josephine’: The Radical Legacy of Josephine Baker’s Bananas.
For over a century, Black women performers have challenged racism, sexism, and heteronormativity. However, the ephemeral traces of historical performances are always in danger of being erased or misinter- preted. In the 1920s and 1930s, Josephine Baker both shocked and de- lighted audiences at Parisian dance halls with her scandalous banana belt. For many critics, the belt symbolizes either her agency or her submission to primitivist caricature and racial/sexual objectification. Instead, through what I call female phallicism, I theorize the belt as a multiple dildo harness that intervened in complex ways in colonial racial and sexual discourses. The banana belt offers contemporary critics a multidimensional, dialog- ic space for dismantling racial and sexual hierarchies.
Published in the spring/summer issue of Women’s Studies Quarterly (Special Edition) “Inheritance” (May 2020). Guest Editors: Maria Rice Bellamy, professor of English at The College of Staten Island, and Karen Weingarten, professor of English at Queens College. Read the full essay here
Professor Shatema Threadcraft
‘Intimate Justice’ charts the long and still incomplete path to black female intimate freedom and equality—a path marked by infanticides, sexual terrorism, race riots, coerced sterilizations, and racially biased child removal policies.
In order to challenge prevailing understandings of freedom and equality, author Shatema Threadcraft considers the troubled status of black female intimate life during four moments: antebellum slavery, Reconstruction, the nadir, and the civil rights and women’s movement eras. Taking up important and often overlooked aspects of the necessary conditions for justice, Threadcraft’s book is a compelling challenge to the meaning of equality in American race and gender relations. Buy the book here.