Appointed As

American Studies Department


ACLS Emerging Voices Fellowships program


Rutgers University-New Brunswick

PhD Field of Study

PhD, American Studies, Rutgers University, Newark

Dissertation Abstract

"Sex-Positive Black Feminism: A Literary Tradition, 1967-1988"

Histories of sex-positive feminism and the pro sex movement of the 1970s are often associated with white women exclusively. However, Red Jordan Arobateau, Ann Allen Shockley, and S. Diane Bogus offer an alternate take on this history. These writers articulate a sex-positive black feminist consciousness that demands we reconsider the contours of the black feminist literary tradition, the African American literary canon, and LGBTQ history. Drawing from archival materials, close readings of the writers’ work, and relevant scholarship, I establish these three as part of a network of sex-positive black feminist writers in the 1970s and 80s who supported and influenced each other through activities like self-publishing, the founding of an independent press, and by writing about each other's work. I argue that the authors use titillation as an aesthetic and narrative intervention in their writing that serves to affirm the sexual worth of black queer bodies. In the final chapter of my dissertation, I conclude that these writers are important and overlooked precursors to the burst of erotic and sex-positive writing by black women in the 1990s and today.

(Photo credit: Lauren Desberg)