Jennifer D. Williams, “The Poetry and Prose of Precarious Living: Black Women Writers and the Legacy of Segregated Urban Spaces”

June 26, 2020

Between the 1930s and the 1970s, racialized legislation and subsequent migrations of Black Americans combined to drive explosive population growth in urban centers, which in turn gave rise to the creation of segregated districts and public housing projects. The experience of life in these spaces, which required residents to navigate precarious conditions where distinctions between public and private collapsed, was chronicled by Black women writers of the era.

In this podcast, Jennifer D. Williams, assistant professor of English at Howard University, discusses her research into urban spaces, racial politics, and Black womanhood in the twentieth century. By turning to intimate forms of literary expression like poetry and short stories written by politically engaged women writers, Williams suggests, we can come to terms with how the literature of this period engages in social justice work that remains relevant today.

Jennifer D. Williams
Jennifer Williams, Howard University
Jennifer D. Williams is an assistant professor of English at Howard University in Washington, DC. Her research and teaching interests include twentieth and twenty-first century African American literature and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, particularly in relation to space, race, and class. A 2017–2018 National Endowment for the Humanities fellow, Dr. Williams will spend her 2019–20 fellowship year completing her book project on black women’s literature and urban segregation. You can find her publications in The Black Scholar, Meridians, and Contemporary Women’s Writing, among other places.