Contributors include Yvette Christiansë, Pam Cobrin, Chris Cynn, Gabrielle Davenport, Hope Dector, Jennifer DeVere Brody, Soyica Diggs Colbert,Victoria Durden, Farah Jasmine Griffin, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Kim F. Hall, Robbie McCauley, Dianne McIntyre, Monica L. Miller, Lorraine Moller, Stacey Muhammad, Vani Natarajan, Tami Navarro, Niyi Osundare, Mariel Rodney, Paul Scolieri, Mecca Jamilah Sullivan, Kathryn Tobin, and Vanessa K. Valdés.
This double issue emerges out of the 2013 Worlds of Shange conference held at Barnard College and celebrates the important work and life of Barnard alumna Ntozake Shange (BC ’70). “The Worlds of Ntozake Shange” highlights Shange’s centrality to black feminism and the continuing impact of her work both within and outside the academy. In addition to working as a poet, novelist, and choreographer, Shange created the choreopoem, a form that links the physicality of dancing and music to the written word. Beginning with Shange’s Obie-award winning theatrical production, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, this form has allowed for the creation of work that not only crosses the boundaries of genre, but questions the very utility of these divisions. The contributors in this issue examine Shange’s continuing impact on literature, theatre, popular culture, feminist, afrodiasporic and queer movement, with many pointing to her linguistic innovations (for instance, her fluid movement across languages, prominent use of both slashes and lowercase letters) as tools that have proven vital to feminist practice. The “Worlds of Ntozake Shange” draws necessary attention to the fact that this artist has long been a creative force, providing new language and possibilities for both intellectual and artistic productions.
In addition to groundbreaking scholarship, this issue includes two original videos on Shange’s legacy and artistic practice that are intended for classroom use. These are the first contributions to the joint Africana Studies/BCRW Digital Shange Project, which provides materials designed to bring the works of Ntozake Shange, archival materials, and embodied learning to the classroom.