The Abstracts — Femspec 6.1, Vol 6, Issue 1, 2005

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EDITORIAL REMARKS:

Speculative Black Women: Magic, Fantasy, and the Supernatural By Yolanda Hoodand Gwendolyn D. Pough
Excerpt: This special issue is concerned with the ways magic, fantasy, and the supernatural have surfaced in this body of work...this special issue examines a variety of speculations in Black women’s writing, and pushes the limits and boundaries of both Black feminist literary theory and feminist science fiction.

CRITICISM

Nalo Hopkinson's Approach to Speculative Fiction By Jerrilyn McGregory
Although speculative fiction has long privileged subversive modes, Nalo Hopkinson’s Brown Girl in the Ring redoubles the effect by antithetically hijacking this literary market. Hopkinson syncretizes traditional West African-derived belief system with the fantastical. She exploits the degree to which sf renders the real unreal and creates an atmosphere of alienating defamiliarization for readers who stand as outsiders in relation to New World African religions.

Nalo Hopkinson's Ti-Jeanne as Superhero In Breastfeeding Mother Rescues City By Gretchen Michlitsch
Gretchen J. Michlitsch considers Ti-Jeanne, the Afro-Caribbean Canadian protagonist of Nalo Hopkinson’s novel, as a compelling literary model for women who take on the challenge of combining breastfeeding and motherhood with work in the public realm. Mitchlitsch analyzes the heroine’s engagement with the villain who controls the dystopic, near-future Toronto, attending especially to Ti-Jeanne’s resentment of her responsibilities as a (young and single) mother, and her interactions with Eshu and the other Afro-Caribbean spirits.

Haunting Back: Vampire Subjectivity in The Gilda Stories By Kathy Davis Patterson
This derives its inspiration from an essay titled Vampire Gothic, written by Teresa Goddu. Goddu makes the compelling assertion that as the producers of terror instead of its text, African-American writers use the gothic to haunt back, reworking the gothic’s conventions to intervene in discourses that would demonize them (137-138). The Gilda Stories is one of the relatively few vampire novels with a female vampire protagonist. Gomez further complicates her construction of vampiric Otherness by presenting a worldview from the perspective of a character who is also Black and lesbian.

Power of the Word/Power of the Works: the Signifying African Soul of Africana Women's Literature By Teresa N. Washington
Seeking to introduce African cosmological and philosophical concepts into the critical analysis of Africana literature, Power of the Word/Power of the Works uses the Yoruba concepts of power of the word and the spiritual power of women to elucidate the verbal, spiritual, and artistic arts and powers of Africana women in life and literature.

Your Buried Ghosts Have A Way of tripping You Up: Revisioning and Mothering in African American and Afro-Caribbean Women's Speculative Horror By Gina Wisker
Jewelle Gomez, Tananarive Due, Nalo Hopkinson, and Toni Brown have made significant contributions to the development of a new hybrid form, African American and Afro-Caribbean women’s speculative horror. In this new speculative horror form, each writer moves away from traditional (white, western) female Gothic to re-examine mother-daughter and/or grandmother-granddaughter maternal roles as significant in enabling women to develop a sense of identity, self-worth, nurturing and community values.

Subversion through Inclusion: Octavia Butler's Interrogations of Religion in Wild Seed and Xenogenesi By Sarah Wood
This essay analyzes how the trilogy and the chronologically first of the series challenge the assumptions of a predominantly white-authored and historically inscribed patriarchal Judeo-Christianity. The essay argues that Butler is able to query the authority and hegemony of western Judeo-Christianity by repositioning outcast figures of femininity and introducing alternative religious traditions specific to the African American tradition. It also suggests that the speculative framework Butler employs enables a radical visualization of empowered black womanhood that subverts through the inclusion, amalgamation, and revision of the various religious traditions and mythologies available to African Americans.

SPEECH

Address Given at The College of New Jersey, Department of African American Studies, 30th Anniversary Symposia: Afrofuturism: Womanist Paradigms for the New Millennium By Nalo Hopkinson
This is a speech in which Nalo Hopkinson talks about the importance of research on Africans and the African Diaspora, and charts her own process of a researcher and a writer.

FICTION

Marie-Ma By Marcia Douglas
Excerpt: Night falls and Marie-ma walks in the hot pepper patch. She is barefooted and wears a long white nightgown. I am watching her from the window above my bed. I have turned off the lamp so that she won’t notice. One after the other, Marie-ma snaps the hot peppers from their stems and plops them into her mouth as if they are as sweet as plums. The yellow ones are her favorite’she stuffs them two at a time while her dark eyes, quick as mosquitoes, search for more. When the peppers are all gone, she turns on her small feet and leaves the yard

The Legend of the Last Wero By Kiini Ibura Salaam K-ush
Excerpt: The seekers wait, hungrily, as K-Ush rises, hovering close to the ceiling of the dogra. Her large eye is closed, but she can feel them-the seekers-crouched on the dirt floor below. Their heads are lowered, hands raised. They send shards of prayer up to the ceiling, puncturing K-Ush’s trance. Their needs—hesitant but insistent—hit her at once; a skull-splitting pain flashes across her forehead. Her large skeletal hands twitch. She hears the tiny, timid voice of a seeker plead for help.

Jus’ a Pinch of the Yellow Powder By Andrea Shaw
Jus’ a Pinch of the Yellow Powder is a first person narrated story set in a decaying neighborhood in Kingston, Jamaica. The protagonist, Miss Clarice, is an aging matriarch with supernatural skills that she uses for the benefit of her small community. However, when an outsider disrespects Miss Clarice and puts her young ward in danger, Miss Clarice uses her magical talents to deal with him, and she does not hesitate to give us all the details herself.

POETRY

Morning Wake-up Sun By Helen Crump
Excerpt: Lying on my stomach, head pillowed by the cross-fold of my arms, my right leg moved against the back of the right in that subconscious and conscious rocking motion—that reflects the habit of infancy and childhood, that soothed the body and spirit, eased the mind, and called forth the peace and comfort of sleep.

Poetrix By Aseret Sin
Excerpt: Birthed in the sacred well, steeped in the furtive pot, rhythms wriggle forth Damballah-Style...

Sisterancestor By Aseret Sin
Excerpt: What Zora Neale Hurston did for Marie Leveau, Alice Walker did for Zora Neale Hurston...

INTERVIEW

Interview with Tananarive Due By Yolanda Hood
This is an interview between scholar Yolanda Hood and horror fiction writer Tananarive Due. The interview took place in the spring of 2004.

Interview with L. A. Banks By Gwendolyn D. Pough
This is an interview between scholar Gwendolyn Pough and horror fiction writer L.A. Banks. The interview took place in the spring of 2004.

REVIEWS

Review of Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism By Candice M. Jenkins
The reviewer examines a book which discusses issues such as work, motherhood, and sexuality from a Black feminist perspective. The reviewer also mentions another work by the author that delved into historical information regarding racial oppression in the U.S., such as chattel slavery.

Review of The Salt Roads By Gretchen J. Michlitsch
The reviewer discusses a novel about three women from different eras. Characters in the novel include a goddess, a pregnant woman in San Domingue, and a French woman. The significance of salt and its symbolism is mentioned.

Review of Minion: A Vampire Huntress Legend By Kathy Davis Patterson
The reviewer discusses a vampire book by L.A. Banks. The characters in the book are discussed by the reviewer, as well as the plot and moral of the story, which the reviewer claims is: Beware of the desire for vengeance and the damage that vengeance can do.

Review of Whispers from the Cotton Tree Root: Caribbean Fabulist Fiction By Jennifer Thorington Springer
Jennifer Thorington Springer examines an anthology edited by Nalo Hopkinson, which is a collection of speculative fiction written by Caribbean writers. The reviewer feels that the collections are pleasurable to read, however also feels that some do not meet either a northern or Caribbean rendition of speculative/fabulist fiction.

Review of The Awakening: A Vampire Huntress Legend By Alicia Thomas
Here is another review of a vampire work by L.A. Banks. The reviewer states that this novel is useful for those interested in the study of gender, urban, and sociological studies. The reviewer also believes that comparisons should not be made between characters like Buffy and the marketing materials of the book, because to do so would be a great injustice to the series by Banks.

Review of Love By Carmiele Y. Wilkerson
A review of Toni Morrison’s book, Love,is presented. The author discusses the many definitions or types of love throughout the book; however the reviewer points out that Morrison’s own definition of love seems clear only at the end of the novel.

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