Telling Histories: Black Women Historians in the Ivory Tower

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The field of black women's history gained recognition as a legitimate field of study only late in the twentieth century. Collecting stories that are both deeply personal and powerfully political, Telling Histories compiles seventeen personal narratives by leading black women historians at various stages in their careers. Their essays illuminate how?first as graduate students and then as professional historians?they entered and navigated the realm of higher education, a world concerned with and dominated by whites...

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Overview

The field of black women's history gained recognition as a legitimate field of study only late in the twentieth century. Collecting stories that are both deeply personal and powerfully political, Telling Histories compiles seventeen personal narratives by leading black women historians at various stages in their careers. Their essays illuminate how—first as graduate students and then as professional historians—they entered and navigated the realm of higher education, a world concerned with and dominated by whites and men. In distinct voices and from different vantage points, the personal histories revealed here also tell the story of the struggle to establish a new scholarly field.

Black women, alleged by affirmative-action supporters and opponents to be "twofers," recount how they have confronted racism, sexism, and homophobia on college campuses. They explore how the personal and the political intersect in historical research and writing and in the academy. Organized by the years the contributors earned their Ph.D.'s, these essays follow the black women who entered the field of history during and after the civil rights and black power movements, endured the turbulent 1970s, and opened up the field of black women's history in the 1980s. By comparing the experiences of older and younger generations, this collection makes visible the benefits and drawbacks of the institutionalization of African American and African American women's history. Telling Histories captures the voices of these pioneers, intimately and publicly.

Contributors:
Elsa Barkley Brown, University of Maryland
Mia Bay, Rutgers University
Leslie Brown, Washington University in St. Louis
Crystal N. Feimster, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Sharon Harley, University of Maryland
Wanda A. Hendricks, University of South Carolina
Darlene Clark Hine, Northwestern University
Chana Kai Lee, University of Georgia
Jennifer L. Morgan, New York University
Nell Irvin Painter, Newark, New Jersey
Merline Pitre, Texas Southern University
Barbara Ransby, University of Illinois at Chicago
Julie Saville, University of Chicago
Brenda Elaine Stevenson, University of California, Los Angeles
Ula Taylor, University of California, Berkeley
Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, Morgan State University
Deborah Gray White, Rutgers University

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"These narratives offer personal perspectives on the world of black women in the ebony and ivory towers. . . . One can appreciate the honest and forthrightness of many of the narratives."—Journal of African American History

"Engagingly written . . . should appeal to multiple audiences. . . . The book is not only valuable for graduate students but is also a significant contribution to the field and should facilitate bringing down barriers, both within and outside the academy, that constrain the professorial ranks, stifle voices, and preclude diverse academicians and scholars from writing and teaching without restraint."—H-Net Reviews

"Many of the contributors offer very poignant and personal accounts of their struggles. . . . These essays do a masterful job of conveying the complexities of these struggles, while at the same time they offer the reader a clear view of the ways many of these women have been able to cope with these difficulties even as they continue to function as scholars and teachers. . . . A very timely book."—The Journal of Southern History

"Telling Histories details the dialectic between the obstacles [African American women] faced and their accomplishments, showing how demanding the academy has been of black women academics and how equally demanding they have been of themselves."—

"In Telling Histories: Black Women Historians in the Ivory Tower, 17 professors prove by their collective experiences that they have built their own community of support."—A Nota Bene selection of The Chronicle of Higher Education

"The essayists offer readers much to think about as each tells her story of becoming a historian and of survival and success in the academy. . . . Recommended."—Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807832011
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2008
  • Series: Gender and American Culture Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Deborah Gray White is Board of Governors Professor of History at Rutgers University. Her previous books include Too Heavy a Load: Black Women in Defense of Themselves, 1894-1994 and Ar'n't I a Woman?: Female Slaves in the Plantation South.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     ix
Introduction: A Telling History   Deborah Gray White     1
Un Essai d'Ego-Histoire   Nell Irvin Painter     28
Becoming a Black Woman's Historian   Darlene Clark Hine     42
A Journey through History   Merline Pitre     58
Being and Thinking outside of the Box: A Black Woman's Experience in Academia   Rosalyn Terborg-Penn     72
My History in History   Deborah Gray White     85
The Politics of Memory and Place: Reflections of an African American Female Scholar   Sharon Harley     101
History without Illusion   Julie Saville     135
On the Margins: Creating a Space and Place in the Academy   Wanda A. Hendricks     146
History Lessons   Brenda Elaine Stevenson     158
The Death of Dry Tears   Ula Taylor     172
Looking Backward in Order to Go Forward: Black Women Historians and Black Women's History   Mia Bay     182
Journey toward a Different Self: The Defining Power of Illness, Race, and Gender   Chana Kai Lee     200
Bodies of History   Elsa Barkley Brown     215
Experiencing Black Feminism   Jennifer L. Morgan     228
Dancing on the Edges of History, but Never Dancing Alone   Barbara Ransby     240
How a Hundred Years of History Tracked Me Down   Leslie Brown     252
Not So Ivory: African American Women Historians Creating Academic Communities   Crystal N. Feimster     270
Contributors     285

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