Out of the Shadows: Women of Color in the Era of Civil Rights


Spring 2016 quarter

Taught by

English literature, theater studies
Native American studies, history, women's studies

The Civil Rights era is typically described as a set of movements inching towards justice through the hard work of individual organizers—predominantly African-American males. When an entire historical moment is narrated in this way, women of color—their actions, their contributions, and their leadership—are implicitly relegated to the shadows. Students who are taught history in this way learn not to question what is “unseen,” which in turn reinforces the patriarchal status quo. This program seeks to resist that status quo by shining light on the leadership and work of many erased women of color across the decades of the 1950s-1970s

In addition to studying the crucial roles women of color played in the era of Civil Rights, we will learn about the critiques women of color provided of both white feminism and the male-dominated Black Power movement. In other words, we will highlight the role of women-of-color activists, writers, singers, and leaders in the struggle to forge a truly intersectional analysis of American systems of oppression. Because our 10-week study will necessarily be incomplete, students will be invited to do biographical or creative projects on figures and topics not covered in our syllabus.

Significant attention will be paid to helping students develop their reading and critical thinking skills, and we will also supplement our textual analysis with films and music from the period.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

American studies, U.S. history, U.S. literature, cultural studies, political science, and education.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


Buy books for this program through The Greener Store.

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning: Access to web-based tools required, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

Required Fees

$15 for museum tickets.


Date Revision
February 29th, 2016 This program has been cancelled. Elizabeth Williamson will be teaching Prison Writing. Frances Rains will be teaching Reading Between the Lines.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Spring)

Class standing: Freshmen ONLY ; 100% of the seats are reserved for freshmen

Maximum enrollment: 36


Course Reference Number not yet available.

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