WGSS Book of the Month | Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

WGSS Book of the Month

Do you love reading? So do we! Every month, there will be featured selections from the WGS library on our website so that you can get a small preview of some of the wonderful books we have on offer.


January 2020

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf by Ntozake Shange

A revolutionary, award-winning play by a lauded playwright and poet about the experiences of women of color.

From its inception in California in 1974 to its highly acclaimed critical success at Joseph Papp’s Public Theater and on Broadway, the Obie Award-winning for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf has excited, inspired, and transformed audiences all over the country. Passionate and fearless, Shange’s words reveal what it is to be of color and female in the twentieth century. First published in 1975 when it was praised by The New Yorker for “encompassing…every feeling and experience a woman has ever had,” for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf will be read and performed for generations to come. Here is the complete text, with stage directions, of a groundbreaking dramatic prose poem written in vivid and powerful language that resonates with unusual beauty in its fierce message to the world.

Call number: PS3569 .H3324


November 2019


Black. Queer. Southern. Women. by E. Patrick Johnson

Drawn from the life narratives of more than seventy African American queer women who were born, raised, and continue to reside in the American South, this book powerfully reveals the way these women experience and express racial, sexual, gender, and class identities–all linked by a place where such identities have generally placed them on the margins of society. Using methods of oral history and performance ethnography, E. Patrick Johnson’s work vividly enriches the historical record of racialized sexual minorities in the South and brings to light the realities of the region’s thriving black lesbian communities.
At once transcendent and grounded in place and time, these narratives raise important questions about queer identity formation, community building, and power relations as they are negotiated within the context of southern history. Johnson uses individual stories to reveal the embedded political and cultural ideologies of the self but also of the listener and society as a whole. These breathtakingly rich life histories show afresh how black female sexuality is and always has been an integral part of the patchwork quilt that is southern culture.


May 2017

Fat Activism: A Radical Social Movement by Charlotte Cooper

Charlotte Cooper, a fat activist with more than 30 years experience, lifts the lid on a previously unexplored social movement and offers a fresh perspective on one of the major problems of our times. In her expansive, intelligent grassroots study she: – Reveals details of fat activist methods and approaches – Features extensive accounts of fat activist historical roots going back over four decades – Explores controversies and tensions in the movement – Shows that fat activism is an undeniably feminist and queer phenomenon Fat Activism: A Radical Social Movement is a rare instance of fat people speaking about their lives and politics on their own terms. The book is the result of Charlotte’s community-based doctoral research.

“But this is not a book about obesity, a word I use to describe the idea that fatness is a problem in need of a solution, or the obesity epidemic, a rhetorical device to leverage fat panic. Although there is plenty that is awful about how fat people are treated, that awfulness is not at the heart of this book either. I think of shame as political, not a natural inevitability. I am not going to explore whether or not fat people are healthy, the prime concern in the world of obesity, although I am very much interested in how fat people cope with being treated as unhealthy. Neither will I explore whether or not fat people are a drain on resources, a factor in global warming, a symptom of over-consumption or a product of obesogenic environments. People preoccupied with how fat people can be caused, managed, and prevented will not find much about it here.”

Call Number: HQ1190 .C668 2016

April 2017

Read My Lips: A Book of Sexual Subversion and the End of Gender

Read My Lips: A Book of Sexual Subversion and the End of Gender by Riki Anne Wilchins

Combining the theoretical breakthroughs of Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble and the performance revelations of Kate Bornstein’s Gender Outlaw, Wilchins — cofounder of the Transsexual Menace — moves the dialogue to a new level. In a voice that is by turns outraged, outrageous, sad, and hilarious, the author weaves theory and personal experience into a compelling story of self-discovery. She redefines what it means to be “gendered”, both by the way she lives and the accessible theoretical narrative she constructs.

Recommended by WGS aluma Melanie Pringle on the occasion of her graduation with a Masters of Arts in Women’s & Gender Studies in May 2016, Melanie says that Wilchins’ academic voice “resonated with me, linking humor, humility, and compelling theory in an endearing, provocative, and transformative way. It’s an older text, so some of the language isn’t perfectly current, but the heart of it still rings true!”

Call Number: HQ 77.8.W55 A3 1997

March 2017

Who’s Afraid of Feminism? Seeing Through the Backlash edited by Ann Oakley and Juliet Mitchell

The progress in women’s rights brought about by the feminist activism of the 1960s through the early 1980s is today confronted with a major political backlash. For Who’s Afraid of Feminism?, editors Ann Oakley and Juliet Mitchell have commissioned new work by Carol Gilligan, Carolyn Heilbrun, and a distinguished, international group of feminist thinkers to explore the diverse territories that feminist thought and activism have affected over recent years, and the new questions that have arisen during that process.

Essays include “Women, Ethnicity and Empowerment” by Nira Yuval-Davis, “Thoughts of a Latecomer: On being a Lesbian in the Backlash” by Susan Heath, “(Anti)feminism after Communism” by Peggy Watson, “’Damned if You Do and Damned if You Don’t’: Psychological and Social Constraints on Motherhood in Contemporary Europe” by Patrizia Romito, “Dangerous Design: Asian Women and the New Landscapes of Fashion” by Parminder Bhachu, & more!


February 2017

Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement by Angela Y. Davis

In these newly collected essays, interviews, and speeches, world-renowned activist and scholar Angela Y. Davis illuminates the connections between struggles against state violence and oppression throughout history and around the world.

Reflecting on the importance of black feminism, intersectionality, and prison abolitionism for today’s struggles, Davis discusses the legacies of previous liberation struggles, from the Black Freedom Movement to the South African anti-Apartheid movement. She highlights connections and analyzes today’s struggles against state terror, from Ferguson to Palestine.

Facing a world of outrageous injustice, Davis challenges us to imagine and build the movement for human liberation. And in doing so, she reminds us that “Freedom is a constant struggle.”

Key Themes: activism, liberation, black feminism, intersectionality, prison injustice

JC571.D38 2016

January 2017

Zami: A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde

Zami: A New Spelling of My Name tells the story of Audre Lorde’s passage from childhood to young adulthood. It covers many themes but focuses primarily on the close bounds she develops with women throughout her life, first with her mother and then with various lovers throughout the book. Audre grows up as a black woman and a lesbian, and in American society in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, this was a triple-threat. Her race, gender and sexuality were all rejected by her society at large; thus, much of the book functions with Audre living in a society that either ignores or rejects her and her telling tales of secret lesbian love.

Key Themes:  race, gender, sexuality, lesbianism, McCarthyism

PS3562.O75Z23 1982