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Critical Relationality & the Biomythographical Subject Re-envisioning Resistance & Representation in Black/Working Class Lesbian Feminist US Literature (1978-1992)

Wednesday 23 October 2019, 4.30PM

Speaker(s): R M Lewis

 ‘Black Lesbians are not apolitical’  
Audre Lorde

 In her 1994 text Black Women, Writing and Identity, Carol Boyce Davies observes a ‘critical relationality’ in writing by women of colour that she believes to be the foundation of ‘synchronic, multiply articulated discourses which operate braid-like or web-like as a series of strands are woven’ (Boyce Davies). By engaging with Davies and other black feminist theorists or cultural workers from this era, I will examine the ways that biomythography as a black/working class, lesbian feminist literary tradition provides a creative space of collective resistance and ‘dialectical intersectionality’. I will consider how this hybridized polyvocal genre, articulates a critical relationality by interweaving the socio-political, personal, historical and mythical, to sustain a feminist ‘critical consciousness’ (Hill Collins) within wider radical political and theoretical discourses. 

In this reading, I will analyse the ways that the biomythographical text re-envisioned subjectivity through creative experimentalism and improvisation in order to provide a far-reaching literary response to male violence, trauma, and structural/state oppression. This re-envisioning also enabled lesbian feminist authors such as Audre Lorde, Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Joan Nestle and Pat Parker to expand upon and continue their ‘cultural work’ (Cade Bambara) within feminist, theoretical, political and narratorial frameworks.

Through the use of critical pedagogy and interactive discussions, this reading of black/working class, lesbian feminist texts will explore biomythography as a political and theoretical framework- led by and for minoritised and marginalised people-to strategise collectively in the struggle for social and environmental justice. 

R M Lewis is a mixed race, working class, lesbian feminist activist whose political and arts activism spans over 25 years. She currently manages violence against women and girls’ services for black and minority women in the North East of England. R M Lewis is currently completing her PhD at Durham University, having earned her Masters in Research there in 2016. Her research focuses on the development of biomythographical black/working-class lesbian feminist literature in the US between 1978 and 1992.  

Location: The Treehouse (BS/104), Berrick Saul Building, University of York