Lecture by Elizabeth Rodriguez Fielder (English) | Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies
University of Pittsburgh

Lecture by Elizabeth Rodriguez Fielder (English)

November 16, 2017 - 4:00pm - 5:00pm
"The 'crooked stitches' of Desire: Sewing and Sexual Awakening in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple”

My talk revisits Alice Walker’s award-winning novel The Color Purple as a work of literary activism and asks the question: What if we place queer love at the center of the black freedom struggle? I examine how Walker’s novel speaks into archival silences of women activists and the personal relationships they formed by examining a hidden history that shaped the novel: the cooperative movement of the 1960s and 1970s, organized predominantly by grassroots women activists. I argue that Walker commemorates a legacy of women’s social movement activism—a distinct yet essential part of the civil rights movement—by placing a lesbian love story at the heart of the social and political turmoil of the Jim Crow south. In doing so, The Color Purple builds a collective memory of queer southern life. This talk explores the terrain of the queer south by placing Walker in conversation with E. Patrick Johnson and Scott Herring, asking how we might give voice to queer identity in a space that eschews and evades the traditional lexicon. To that end, I look at how Walker theorizes intersectionality through a narrative in which race, gender, and sexuality are inseparable from class issues and the pervasive weight of poverty.  

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