HIDDEN FIGURES SYLLABUS
02 About the Syllabus 10 Fiction 12 Non Fiction 15 Poetry 18 Film 22 Online Publications 24 Global Black Feminisms
THE SYLLABUS Margot Lee Shetterly's non fiction work Hidden Figures chronicles the stories of Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Dorothy Vaughan, Black women mathematicians whose work was instrumental in NASA's early operations. Shetterly's research exemplifies the kind of care and dedication Black women and femmes have shown one another in celebrating our brilliance. The Hidden Figures syllabus intends to follow in this tradition, honoring the spirit of Elma Lewis, and uplifting the narratives of Black women and femmes who continuously defy constraints of gender binaries, class, ability among other things, not only in their ways of being in the world, but also in their intellectual and artistic production.
A DIFFERENT Over the past few years, the hashtag syllabus has become a way to organize and distribute information beyond the walls of academic institutions and platforms that require an affiliation to such institutions in order to gain access. Black women and femmes have been at the forefront of many of these efforts.
by Zoë Gadegbeku
In 2014, Dr. Marcia Chatelain, Assistant Professor of History at Georgetown University, launched the #FergusonSyllabus to provide resources for students, educators and readers grieving and organizing in the wake of the murder of Mike Brown, one of many instances in which the United States demonstrates its nature as a machine requiring the lives of the most marginalized people as sacrifice and fuel for its continued operation.
The #LemonadeSyllabus is another example that served as a guide for our own work at the Elma Lewis Center. While working towards her doctorate at the Princeton Theological Seminary, Candice Benbow, with the help of over 70 contributors, curated an extensive reading list that firmly placed Beyoncé’s Lemonade visual album within the context of Black feminist and womanist literature, film, critical theory and theology.
Even with this such a wealth of inspiration, completing this project was fraught with endless questions, many of which remain unanswered in any conclusive way. Without the typical scaffolding and dated tasks and assignments that follow a particular line of logic and build on top of each other, our project doesn’t fully resemble a syllabus in its conventional form. One purpose the label “syllabus” serves is to align our work with the aforementioned project, and to invite readers to see Hidden Figures Syllabus as a guide to help in their exploration of Black diasporic creative productions. Another question that emerged had to do with which writers and artists to include in the document. It wouldn’t be very useful to select texts solely based on their creators identifying as Black women or femmes. Elma Lewis’ fierce spirit served as a means of navigating this dilemma. With Miss Lewis in mind, we tried to bring together works that are in conversation with each other, in the ways they project radical ways of thinking about liberation, joy, the body, sexuality, grief, and “post” colonial dispossession among many other themes. It is our hope that the Hidden Figures Syllabus reflects these ideas and lines of inquiry, with the blog (hiddenfiguresyllabus.com) as a space to continue questioning, dreaming and curating submissions from the public with more “Hidden Figures” who deserve celebration.
MISS LEWIS TAUGHT US
Elma Ina Lewis was a Boston icon.
An arts educator, community leader, and MacArthur foundation â€œGeniusâ€? grant winner, she promoted the arts as an empowering force for young Black people. Her legacy deserves center stage, now more than ever, as Black artists flourish in spite of underrepresentation in arts spaces and global structural oppression.
Miss Lewisâ€™ work involved shaping individuals who were more than exceptional singers, dancers, actors and musicians. She recognized that Black art held the power to fire up social change and to cultivate hope. Her tenacity and commitment to excellence is preserved and passed on in the memories and work of so many artists and activists who can all trace their artistic lineage to her training.
Elma Lewis: In Her Own Words
Born in Boston to parents who emigrated from Barbados.
1943 1944 Obtained her Masters in Education from Boston University.
Opened the Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts in Roxbury to promote arts and communication education for Bostonâ€™s African American youth.
Founded Playhouse in the Park in Boston’s Franklin Park, offering free summer performances that were revived in recent years continuing her work and her legacy.
Founded the National Center of Afro-American Artists (NCAAA), which brought students from the Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts to tour in stage productions on a national level.
Became one of the first women to receive a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant.”
GLOBAL BLACK FEMINISMS
I CAN'T IMAGINE A MAN BRAVE ENOUGH TO OPPRESS ME.
ZoĂŤ Gadegbeku Research, Curatorial and Design Project Director
Judy Pryor-Ramirez Elma Lewis Scholar- inResidence
Image of Dorothy Vaughan, Katherine Johnson and Mary Jackson courtesy of NASA/Donaldson Collection/Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images via HowStuffWorks.com
Image of Hidden Figures (2016) cast courtesy of Hopper Stone for 20th Century Fox, 2016 "Hidden Figures" Bios: Images of Dorothy Vaughan, Katherine Johnson and Mary Jackson courtesy of NASA.gov
Published on Sep 15, 2017
Published on Sep 15, 2017
Margot Lee Shetterly's non fiction work Hidden Figures chronicles the stories of Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Dorothy Vaughan, Blac...