Monthly Archives: December 2012

Diversty Round-up: The 2012 List of Books on Diversity

I’ll confess that I always feel a little pit in my stomach when I see that a new book about diversity in higher education goes to print.  I started this project several years ago, and it was slow, difficult work getting it all together, and now it is making the slow journey to publication. It’s difficult to hurry up and wait.  I worry that the narratives I’ve compiled will seem like old news.

Then I remember that an issue as complex and deeply entrenched as this one requires multiple essays, articles, anthologies, and special journal issues.  The goal isn’t to be first but to expand and extend the discussion (it should probably be this in all areas of research but this is especially the case when it comes to diversity).   And I remind myself that more than professional advancement or ego boosts, we need as broad a community as possible to be as informed as possible about this issue.

This is not only a list books that came out this year (Presumed Incompetent) but of books that are important to this conversation that I returned to this year as I finished writing the introduction to the collection.  These are books I looked to as I planned the anthology, and they are books that I think everyone should read—especially white academics who want to do more than just say that they value diversity (or offer the earnest head nod whenever the issue comes up).    And I should say that I am very glad that colleagues in my home department are reading some of these books with me and doing the work to develop and maintain meaningful diversity.

If you know of more good books on the subject, please send the titles my way

(NB: Descriptions are from websites about the books where available).

If you’re going to start anywhere, start with: Deborah Gray White, ed. Telling Histories: Black Women Historians in the Ivory Tower.  Gender and American Culture Series. (U of North Caroline, P.,  2008).

Engagingly written, Telling Histories should appeal to multiple audiences. Taken together, these stories underscore the firm hold of racism, sexism, and classism within American society in general and the academy and history departments specifically. While presenting and often resolving theoretical and methodological questions, the book not only is valuable for graduate students but is also a significant contribution to the field and should facilitate bringing down barriers, both within and outside the academy, that constrain the professorial ranks, stifle voices, and preclude diverse academicians and scholars from writing and teaching without restraint. The contributors’ content is largely descriptive but it also provides analysis about the progression of scholarly trends and instruction in historiography to historians at all professional stages.

Gabriella Gutierrez y Muhs, et al, eds.
Presumed Incompetent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia (Utah State UP, 2012)

Presumed Incompetent is a pathbreaking account of the intersecting roles of race, gender, and class in the working lives of women faculty of color. Through personal narratives and qualitative empirical studies, more than 40 authors expose the daunting challenges faced by academic women of color as they navigate the often hostile terrain of higher education, including hiring, promotion, tenure, and relations with students, colleagues, and administrators. The narratives are filled with wit, wisdom, and concrete recommendations, and provide a window into the struggles of professional women in a racially stratified but increasingly multicultural America.

Evans, Stephanie.
Black Women in the Ivory Tower: 1850-1954
(UP Florida 2007).

Evans chronicles the stories of African American women who struggled for and won access to formal education, beginning in 1850, when Lucy Stanton, a student at Oberlin College, earned the first college diploma conferred on an African American woman. In the century between the Civil War and the civil rights movement, a critical increase in black women’s educational attainment mirrored unprecedented national growth in American education. Evans reveals how black women demanded space as students and asserted their voices as educators–despite such barriers as violence, discrimination, and oppressive campus policies–contributing in significant ways to higher education in the United States. She argues that their experiences, ideas, and practices can inspire contemporary educators to create an intellectual democracy in which all people have a voice.

Janis Fay, et al, eds.
Racism in the Academy: The New Millennium.  American Anthropological Association. (2012)

The starting point for this study was through the auspices of our professional scholarly society, the American Anthropological Association. In 2007, then-president Alan Goodman appointed a commission charged with two primary responsibilities:
“(1) to collect information in order to better expose how privilege has been maintained in anthropology and the AAA, including but not limited to departments and the academic pipeline and

(2) to develop a comprehensive plan for the Association and for the field of anthropology to increase the ethnic, racial, gender and class diversity of the discipline and organization.”

Baez, Benjamin. 
Affirmative Action, Hate Speech, and Tenure: Narratives About Race and Law in the Academy
. Benjamin Baez (Routledge Falmer 2002).

I like everything that Baez has written on race in higher education. Everything.

Geok-Lin Lim, Shirley et al, eds.
Power, Race, and Gender in  Academe: Strangers in the Tower.  New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1991)

My favorite chapter from this collection is Gunning, Sandra. “Now That They Have Us, What’s the Point?” The Challenge of Hiring to Create Diversity.”

Matthew, Patricia A., ed. 
Written/Unwritten: Tenure and Race in the Humanities (not yet, but I couldn’t resist…)




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CFP: Narrative, Race, and Ethnicity in the Americas

Narrative, Race, and Ethnicity in the Americas

In her landmark study of race and American literature, Playing in the Dark (1992), Toni Morrison argued that literary history has taken for granted a certain set of assumptions, including the understanding that “American literature is free of, uninformed, and unshaped by the four-hundred-year-old presence of, first, Africans and then African Americans in the United States” and that “this presence […] had no significant place or consequence in the origin and development of that culture’s literature” (4-5). Morrison’s work provides a thoughtful and insightful study of race in American narrative and has inspired a generation of scholars to continue the study of race and ethnicity in American literature. However, much of this work (but certainly not all, as evidenced by Frederick Luis Aldama’s recent collection Analyzing World Fiction: New Horizons in Narrative Theory [Texas, 2011]) tends to fall outside the scope of formal narrative studies. And just as Susan Lanser’s 1986 ground-breaking article “Toward a Feminist Narratology” has inspired scholars to explore the fruitful possibilities of a feminist narrative theory that engages an intersectional approach to issues related (but not limited to) gender, the editors hope to compile a collection of essays that similarly engages the study of race, ethnicity, and narrative in the Americas, a cultural-geo-political area that we conceive of broadly that is not simply bounded by the nation-state of the U.S. Following Aldama’s collection, we hope to provide a work that encompasses a diversity of voices, subjects, and approaches to the study of narrative, race, and ethnicity.

To that end, we invite proposals for a collection of essays that will examine the intersections of race, ethnicity, and narrative focused on texts produced by authors with cultural ties to the Americas, a region that has seen the widespread sale of African slaves, the decimation of indigenous peoples in the wake of European colonialism, the hybridization of settler-colonials with roots in Spain, and the systematic mistreatment of Asian immigrants, as well as a cultural history that has needed to be ever-mindful of that heritage. It is the belief of the editors that “the Americas” share a unified cultural history, particularly with respect to issues of race and ethnic identity, and that narratives produced by artists in many American nations reflect that shared history. As such, the editors would like this volume to include as many diverse voices, backgrounds, and identities as possible.

We seek proposals for essays that will address the various ways that the formal study of narrative intersects productively with methodologies of critical race studies, post-colonial theory, and general ethnic studies. In other words, following the example set forth by Lanser, how can issues of identity help us better understand the workings of narrative, and how can a formal study of narrative assist us in the study of narrative forms? We seek essays that engage the diversity of possible theoretical approaches, as well as works that explore a multiplicity of ethnic voices and audiences. We do not wish to define what it means to study narrative, race, and ethnicity in the Americas; rather, we hope to provide a starting point for the variety of directions such a study can take.

Proposals for essays should be between 750 and 1000 words and should clearly articulate their theoretical position and identify the narratives to be analyzed. Completed abstracts are due by March 31, 2013 and can be sent to James J. Donahue (, Jennifer Ho (, or Shaun Morgan ( We welcome questions or inquiries about this volume prior to this date, as well. Submitters will be notified about the status of their proposals by May 31, 2013 and final essays of 5,000-6,000 words will be due on January 31, 2014.

Although we do not have a formal agreement with a press just yet, an editor for the Ohio State University Press Series on the Theory and Interpretation of Narrative has expressed strong interest in reviewing this collection.

Possible topics (though others are welcome as well) include:
— the interconnections of Critical Race Theory and Narrative Theor(ies)
— the impact of Civil Rights, the American Indian Movement, or other civil rights movements on the production, consumption, or study of narrative(s)
— the intersections of Post-Colonial Theory (as it pertains to literature of the Americas) and the study of narrative
— the use, limitations, or necessary expansions to formalist approaches to the study of narrative(s) produced by People of Color (are concepts such as narrator, implied author, etc. race/ethnicity neutral?)
— are narrative approaches grounded in the study of race and ethnicity methodologically different from narrative approaches grounded in the study of gender or class; and if so, how?
— the necessary additions/revisions/etc. to cognitive and ethical approaches to the study of narrative that considerations of race engender
–the ways in which a study of narrative and race can be useful as a form of anti-racist praxis

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