Katherine Clay Bassard Virginia Commonwealth University hen I was asked to respond to Gabrielle Foreman's essay, my first thought was, "Oh no, here we go again." This was neither condemnation of nor boredom with the topic of scholarly subjectivity, but a testimony to its endurance as an issue and my failure to come up with any satisfactory answers in the years since Nellie McKay's or Barbara Christian's prophetic call(s). Over the years I have faced this conundrum from various positionalities: as a graduate student during the backlash over affirmative action in the early 1990s, as a faculty member when the only other black woman in the department retired without a replacement, and now as department chair who, in a climate of shrinking resources, struggles to make the case for a second (!) African Americanist while the intellectual ground justifying such a hire crumbles beneath my feet. Here we go. Again. Foreman aptly approaches the difficulty as both an intellectual and an institutional problem--in other words, a mind/body problem. Part of the founding intellectual premise of African American studies was the need to redress the underrepresentation of African Americans within academia. While this need was often couched in political
Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers – University of Nebraska Press
Published: Jun 4, 2014
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