Black Women's Poetry: A History with Dr. Courtney Pierre Joseph

Black Women's Poetry: A History with Dr. Courtney Pierre Joseph


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Twenty-two-year-old Amanda Gorman made history with her powerful poem at the 2021 United States Presidential Inauguration. Gorman falls in a long line of Black women who have used poetry to find their voice and express their lived experiences. This seminar will examine this history, focusing on the unique opportunity poetry offers Black women to be seen.

This seminar will engage with figures like Phyllis Wheatley (the first Black woman to have her poetry published) and Gwendolyn Brooks (the first Black women poetry consultant to the Library of Congress and poet laureate to the state of Illinois). How do their backgrounds and historical contexts shape the poetry they create? How do these poets differ? What can we learn from their poetry about how to make a more just American society?

Led by an expert on African American history and culture, Courtney Pierre Joseph, this interactive seminar will look at the history of Black women’s poetry. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an introduction to influential figures and themes of Black women’s poetry in the United States.

Courtney Pierre Joseph is an Assistant Professor of History and African American Studies at Lake Forest College. Her specializations are in African American history and culture, Haiti and its diaspora, women and gender studies, and hip hop culture. Joseph earned her PhD in History from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2017. She has spoken at numerous institutions, including the DuSable Museum of African American History, and at various events, including the fall 2020 Chicago Humanities Festival. Dr. Joseph is currently working on her first book, tentatively titled DuSable’s Diaspora: Haiti, Blackness, and Belonging in Chicago.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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