Digital Shange

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About Digital Shange

The Digital Shange Project uses the works of Barnard alumna Ntozake Shange (BC ’70) and her recently donated archive to offer students a broader understanding of African diaspora, women’s history and feminist politics; an integrated study of the performing arts; and the potential for personal transformation.  While Shange is best known for her choreopoem for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf, which took the theater world by storm when it premiered on Broadway in 1976, her rich oeuvre of over 36 published works and interdisciplinary collaborations with activists, dancers, directors, musicians, photographers and singers make her a rich and compelling subject for sustained student inquiry.

This five year project, gives Barnard students a unique experience of working collaboratively with faculty, archivists, and artists, made possible by Barnard’s distinct location as a woman’s college in Harlem.  Shange’s works touch on a wide range of issues from the “double bind” of racial and gender oppression and domestic violence, the politics of cultural appropriation and modern minstrelsy to sexual and reproductive politics to the politics of food and food culture(s).  As such, her work provides a rich opportunity for students to become public intellectuals in their own right and for faculty to teach for transformation. Students who take the Worlds of Ntozake Shange & Digital Storytelling courses will emerge with arts based interdisciplinary training as well as enhanced digital skills, including a sophisticated grasp of social media.

During the first two years of the project, students wrote Wikipedia articles on Ntozake’s works and intellectual milieu. Africana Studies faculty members Kim F. Hall, Monica L. Miller and Yvette Christiansȅ guest-edited a special double issue of S&F Online, The Worlds of Ntozake Shange that included, in addition to scholarly essays, interviews and personal reflections, two original videos (Her Pen is a Machete: The Art of Ntozake Shange and Moving Across Disciplines and Genres: Teaching Shange) intended for classroom use.

During years three and four, students are creating digital projects that teach their peers about Shange’s relationship to the Black Arts Movement and WOC/Third World Feminisms. With our professional partners we will produce videos and assignments on embodied knowledge, archival research and other teaching materials for faculty wishing to incorporate interdisciplinary arts techniques and/or training in archival research to undergraduate students.

You can follow Digital Shange on Twitter or Instagram @ShangeWorlds or through the Barnard Center for Research on Women Facebook page. Email us at DigitalShange [at] gmail [dot] com.

In the News

The New York Times, April 15, 2016
Women in Higher Education July 2016


More on Ntozake Shange
The Ntozake Shange Collection at Barnard College
2016 Ntozake Shange & Digital Storytelling Projects
“Unexpected Intimacies: Using an Archive” [student-produced podcast forthcoming]


The International Center of Photography
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Sydnie L. Mosely Dances
Barnard College Archives
The Harlem Semester at Barnard College  

In addition to support from BCRW, the Africana Studies and English Departments at Barnard College, the Digital Shange Project has received funding from the Gildersleeve Fund of the Barnard College Office of the Provost, The President’s Committee on Online & On-Campus Learning (COOL) and the Mellon Barnard Teaches Grant.

Professor Kim F. Hall (on Twitter @ProfKFH), the creator of the Digital Shange Project, was named the inaugural Faculty Partner of the Year by the Barnard Library and received a Tow Award for Innovative Pedagogy for her work on  this project.

Image Credit: Ntozake Shange Papers, Barnard Archives and Special Collections, Barnard College

The Barnard Center for Research on Women engages our communities through programming, projects, and publications that advance intersectional social justice feminist analyses and generate concrete steps toward social transformation.

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