How might the history of Black women’s creative homemaking and citizenship practices help us navigate our current political and cultural moment? What might this history reveal about the racially gendered roots of blurred work and home boundaries?
In episode 117 of Imagine Otherwise, I interview cultural critic, professor, and scholar Koritha Mitchell, whose new book From Slave Cabins to the White House traces the creative ways African American women have forged homemade versions of citizenship and redefined success in the face of racist and misogynist oppression.
In our conversation, Koritha and I talk about the history of Black women’s citizenship and achievement, how this history shapes tenure and academic life, what running and writing have to teach us about self-defined success, and why centering self-love in work and life is how Koritha imagines otherwise.
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You can also read the transcript and show notes on the Ideas on Fire website, which have links to Koritha’s work and all the concepts, people, and events we discuss on the show (great for teaching!).
Guest: Koritha Mitchell
Koritha Mitchell is a literary historian, cultural critic, and associate professor of English at Ohio State University.
Koritha’s most recent book, From Slave Cabins to the White House: Homemade Citizenship in African American Culture (University of Illinois Press, 2020), examines Black artists’ strategies for sustaining their communities in a society that responds to Black success with violence.
She is also the author of Living with Lynching: African American Lynching Plays, Performance, and Citizenship (University of Illinois Press, 2012), which won book awards from the American Theatre and Drama Society and the Society for the Study of American Women Writers.
Koritha is the editor of the Broadview Edition of Frances Harper’s 1892 novel Iola Leroy, and her articles include “James Baldwin, Performance Theorist, Sings the Blues for Mister Charlie,” published by American Quarterly, and “Love in Action,” which appeared in Callaloo and draws parallels between lynching and violence against LGBTQ+ communities.
Her commentary has appeared in outlets such as Openly, Bitch Media, CNN, Good Morning America, the Huffington Post, NBC News, PBS NewsHour, and NPR’s Morning Edition.