Andrea Mendoza, Reporter
Students walking around the hallways at Pierce College Puyallup may have noticed flyers with a picture of Beyonce hung on the walls. These flyers are advertisements for the Women Writers International Mosaic hybrid class being taught fall quarter by adjunct assistant professor Shannon Wilson.
Women Writers is an annual class that focuses on the literary work of women writers. The class will focus on Beyonce’s visual album, Lemonade. Referred to as the Lemonade edition, the class will pave way to the interpretation and influence of black women writers.
“We’re using Beyonce and her visual album as an entry point into a conversation about black women writers,” Wilson said. “I’m specifically using this term and not African American because not all of the authors we’ll read in this class are American. We’re specifically talking about black female identity and experience.”
This class is intended to embrace black womanhood and to demonstrate the experience black women go through. The class incorporates the album Lemonade in its content, but it isn’t the only material used. The course content consists of eight novels and two collections of poetry specifically chosen by Wilson to challenge the common stereotypes that surround black women in particular. Works in the course include, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange, I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem by Maryse Conde and Daughters of the Dust by Julie Dash, all of whom are black women writers.
“When I first decided to approach the course using Lemonade, I was looking for books that were dealing with the thematics that I see in the visual album,” Wilson said. “I was also looking for texts that are directly referenced in the album.”
The literary works are to guide students into analyzing, identifying and exploring all aspects of the gender stereotypes often connected with black women.
“I wanted students to know what they were getting into and to be prepared to grapple with this content,” Wilson said.
The inspiration behind this class was the rise of a black women cultural movement. Black women are the founders of the social justice movement Black Lives Matter and many celebrities are using their platforms to speak up about the social injustices women of color face. After the release of Beyonce’s Lemonade, many black women started to speak up about the literary works referenced in the visual album that aired on HBO April 23. Candice Benbow, a lecturer in Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University, created the hashtag #lemonadesyllabus. This hashtag was used to suggest readings that could start a conversation with the thematic concerns and content of Lemonade.
“Candice Benbow created this syllabus hashtag where women expressed their opinions about books recommended to read so you can understand the visual album better,” Wilson said.
Women Writers meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12-12:50 p.m.
“I think as a women of color it’s empowering because it discusses black women issues, which is something you don’t really see in other class,” student Victoria Miles said.
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