Elsa Barkley Brown

Associate Professor of History and Women’s Studies
Affiliate Faculty in African American Studies and American Studies

My primary interests are in African-American political culture, with an emphasis on gender.  This takes me in exciting and varied directions from a focus on citizenship and rights to literal and conceptual maps of the daily lives and worldviews of African Americans in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries  to explorations of contemporary African American women visual artists’ and filmmakers’ engagements with history.  Always I am conceptually most interested in unraveling the oft unseen work inherent in our daily lives – the work of friendship, the work of day-to-day political organizing, the work of creativity, and most importantly, the work of collectivity.  A driving passion of all my explorations is a firm belief that community is an ongoing process located/rooted in the work that people do to continuously create it and possible only when gumbo ya ya (everybody talks at once) rather than conventional consensus is given full rein.  Central to this is a concern for the work of narrative –from the stories black mothers have traditionally told their daughters to the retellings of histories that often undergird political rhetoric and, especially, the cherished stories students bring into the classroom and hold to so intently.

My teaching commitments and interests include courses in social movements, women’s arts activisms, constructions of black manhood and womanhood, black women’s arts and culture, African American women’s history.

Major Areas of Research:

  • Theories of Collectivity and Citizenship
  • Political Narrative
  • African American Political Culture
  • Black Women’s Arts and Culture
  • Black Gender Studies

Selected Courses:

  • Black Women and the Art and Politics of Improvisation: A Meditation on Methodology (graduate)
  • Black Women in U.S. History (graduate)
  • Black Women’s Arts and Culture (undergraduate/graduate)
  • Women and the Civil Rights Movement (undergraduate)
  • African Americans and the Movies, 1890s-1990s (undergraduate)
  • Women and Film (undergraduate)
  • Women, Art and Culture (undergraduate)
  • Constructions of Black Manhood and Womanhood (at undergraduate and at graduate level)
  • Introduction to Black Women’s Studies (undergraduate)
  • African American Internationalisms (graduate)

Elsa Barkley Brown – http://www.barkleyb.com

Visual Literacy Toolbox – http://vislit.arhu.umd.edu/

Teaching Rhodessa Jones and the Medea Project: Theatre for Incarcerated Women – http://wiki.umd.edu/teachingrhodessajones/

Selected Publications:
2008 “Stephanie E. Pogue and the Artist’s Veil,” in Arabesque (David C. Driskell Gallery, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, 2008)

2008 “Bodies of History,” in Deborah Gray White, ed., Telling Histories (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008), 215-226

2003 “Memory Work:  Quilts in Southern African-American History,” in African-American Quilts: 60 Historic Textiles from the Farmer-James Collection ca. 1860-1947 (Four Sisters Gallery, North Carolina Wesleyan College, Rocky Mount, North Carolina, 2003)

2000 Major Problems in African American History, vol. 1: From Slavery to Freedom; vol. 2: From Freedom to “Freedom Now”.  Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, September 2000. (co-editor with Thomas C. Holt)

1997 “To Catch the Vision of Freedom: Reconstructing Southern Black Women’s Political History, 1865-1880” in Ann Gordon, Bettye Collier-Thomas, John H. Bracey, Arlene Avakian, Joyce Berkman, eds., African American Women and the Vote, 1837-1960 (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1997), 66-99

1995 “Imaging Lynching:  African American Women, Communities of Struggle, and Collective Memory,” in African American Women Speak Out On Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas, ed. Geneva Smitherman (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1995), 100-124

1995 (with Gregg D. Kimball), “Mapping the Terrain of Black Richmond,” Journal of Urban History, 21, 3 (March 1995), 295-346

1994 “Negotiating and Transforming the Public Sphere:  African American Political Life in the Transition from Slavery to Freedom,” Public Culture, 7, 1 (Fall 1994), 107-146

1993 Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, 2 volumes, Brooklyn: Carlson Publishing; paperback edition: Bloomington, Indiana University, 1995.  (Associate Editor; Darlene Clark Hine, Editor)

1989 “Womanist Consciousness: Maggie Lena Walker and the Independent Order of Saint Luke,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 14, 3 (Spring 1989), 610-633

Selected Professional Service:

Editorial Board, Women and U.S. Social Movements, 1600-2000 – http://womhist.alexanderstreet.com/index.htm

Southern Association of Women Historians Teaching Committee – http://www.sawhteaching.wikispaces.com