The newest episode of the Imagine Otherwise podcast is live! I chat with memoirist, novelist, and scholar Francesca T. Royster about about the queer afterlives of soul music, Francesca’s powerful family histories of women forging intellectual and familial bonds in untraditional ways, and why giving young people the tools to tell their own stories in their own ways is how Francesca imagines otherwise.

Listen

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You can also read the transcript and show notes on the Ideas on Fire website, which have links to Francesca’s work and all the concepts, people, and events we discuss on the show (great for teaching!).

Francesca T. Royster

Francesca Royster wearing tortoiseshell glasses, teal earrings, and a multicolored shirt. Text reads: Francesca Royster, Imagine Otherwise podcast episode 71Francesca T. Royster is a professor of English at DePaul University, where she teaches courses on African American Literature, popular culture, Black feminisms, queer theory, Shakespeare, and early modern literature. She received her PhD in English from University of California, Berkeley in 1995. 

She is the author of the book Sounding Like a No-No: Queer Sounds and Eccentric Acts in the Post-Soul Era (University of Michigan Press, 2013), which was awarded an honorable mention for the Modern Language Association of America’s William Sanders Scarborough Prize for an Outstanding Scholarly Study of African American Literature and Culture.

She is also the author of the book Becoming Cleopatra: The Shifting Image of an Icon (Palgrave/MacMillan in 2003). 

Her scholarship has been published in the academic journals Biography, Callaloo, the Journal of Narrative Theory, the Journal of Lesbian StudiesShakespeare QuarterlyPerformance Research International, andWomen in Performance, among others. She has also published creative essays in Slag Glass City, Bitch magazine, the LA Review of BooksChicago Literati, and the Windy City Times

Francesca is currently at work on three new book projects, including a memoir called Chosen: Making Queer Family, which explores the “making a way out of no way” in queer adoption and chosen family; a scholarly book called Black Edens: Country Music and Black and Queer Listening Tactics, about African American country music performers and fans; and another book project on the “strange relationships” between Prince and Michael Jackson. 

Francesca has trained and volunteered as a counselor for the Chicago Rape Crisis Hotline and the AIDS Project, and has served on the boards of several nonprofits including Women and Girls CAN, Women in the Director’s Chair, Incite Arts, and Beyond Media Education.

Key quote

“I’m always thinking, ‘What are the tools that I need to tell the stories that I want to tell?’ and trying not to feel bound in by discipline or by forms.”

– Francesca T. Royster on episode 71 of the Imagine Otherwise podcast

Trailer

Francesca Royster wearing tortoiseshell glasses, teal earrings, and a multicolored shirt. Text reads: Francesca Royster, Imagine Otherwise podcast episode 71