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Writing Across Genres

African American Women Writers in the Joanna Banks Collection
  • Symposium
Johanna Banks in her library, ca 2018

On exhibit January 13-April 10, 2020

This exhibition explores how African American women of the late twentieth century authored books across multiple genres as they explored Black cultural and intellectual traditions. Novels, poetry, cookbooks, children’s books, essays, biographies and autobiographies, music, sermons, folklore, and art were all employed for this purpose, and are highlighted in this exhibition. Wherever possible, lesser-known works by prominent Black women writers are exhibited, often in genres that emphasize the range of their talents.

The exhibition celebrates the 2018 gift from the collector Joanna Banks of her library of late-twentieth-century African American books, with a particular focus on women writers, children’s books, and cookbooks.

2020 Jay I. Kislak Symposium
February 20-21, 2020

Black Women Writing Across Genres
in the Late 20th Century

The 2020 Kislak Symposium looks at the flourishing of Black women writers as a cultural force in late twentieth century America. Combining panels, roundtables, talks, and readings, scholars and artists will examine topics ranging from activist writing and the emergence of Black Queer Studies to theorizing the archive and the role of bibliographies in the making of collections. The symposium seeks to inspire new work in the discipline while honoring the important work that has already been done on many of the authors in the collection. Among the confirmed speakers are Cheryl Clarke, Farah Jasmine Griffin (Columbia), and Cheryl Wall (Rutgers), along with the exhibition co-curators and Penn graduate students, Destiny Crockett and Kiana Murphy. The collector Joanna Banks will be joining the conversation.

Registration for the symposium is appreciated.

  • Thursday, February 20, 2020

    4:00-5:00 pm Tour of exhibition

    5:30-6:30 pm Keynote: Cheryl Wall (Rutgers)

    6:30-7:30 pm Reception

    7:30-9:00 pm Screening of Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project (2019)

  • Friday, February 21, 2020

    9:30-10:00 am Coffee

    10:00-11:15 am TBA

    11:00-11:15 am Break

    11:15 am-12:15 pm Cheryl Clarke (poet and essayist)

    12:15-1:30 pm Lunch

    1:30-2:00 pm TBA

    2:00-3:00 pm Interview with collector Joanna Banks

    3:00-3:15 pm Break

    3:15-4:15 pm Graduate Student panel:

                Destiny Crockett (Penn)

                Imani Ford (Columbia)

                Kiana Murphy (Penn)

    4:15-4:30 pm Break

    4:30-5:30 pm Farah Jasmine Griffin (Columbia)

    5:30-6:30 pm Reception