front cover of The Blackademic Life
The Blackademic Life
Academic Fiction, Higher Education, and the Black Intellectual
Lavelle Porter
Northwestern University Press, 2019

The Blackademic Life critically examines academic fiction produced by black writers. Lavelle Porter evaluates the depiction of academic and campus life in literature as a space for black writers to produce counternarratives that celebrate black intelligence and argue for the importance of higher education, particularly in the humanistic tradition. Beginning with an examination of W. E. B. Du Bois’s creative writing as the source of the first black academic novels, Porter looks at the fictional representations of black intellectual life and the expectations that are placed on faculty and students to be racial representatives and spokespersons, whether or not they ever intended to be. The final chapter examines blackademics on stage and screen, including in the 2014 film Dear White People and the groundbreaking television series A Different World.


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College Girls
A Century in Fiction
Marchalonis, Shirley
Rutgers University Press, 1995

Since the opening of Vassar College in 1865, objections to higher education for women have ranged from charges that females were mentally and physically incapable of learning to the belief that educating women would destroy society. Underlying all arguments was the folk wisdom which declared that women could not live and work together. To counteract such beliefs, women’s colleges tried to create a special kind of space and new role models that would allow women to exist for a short time in idyllic (or, at least, idealized) conditions. The debate over women’s education, for the good or ill of society, generated a great deal of "print," including short stories and novels. Shirley Marchalonis guides us through the history of this fiction, its depiction of the complexities of the college experience, and the conflicting attitudes that teetered between fascination and fear, celebration and regret.

Using novels, short stories, and some juvenile fiction from 1865 to 1940--all of it specifically about college “girls”--she examines these ideas, the way they developed over time, and their significance in understanding women’s education and women’s history. The debate over separate colleges for women continues to this day and can be better understood in the context of this informative and entertaining look at the past.


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Intimate Communities
Representation and Social Transformation in Women's College Fiction, 1895–1910
Sherrie A. Inness
University of Wisconsin Press, 1995
The many popular representations of student life at women’s colleges produced in the United States during the Progressive Era are examined. The college woman was described and defined in a period when women’s higher education was still socially suspect.
    While other scholars have argued that the Progressive Era was the “golden age” for women’s single-sex education, pointing to the many positive depictions of the women’s college student, Inness suggests that these representations actually helped to perpetuate the status quo and did little to advance women’s social rights.

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