Trauma, Resistance, Contradictions: Contemporary Themes in Black Women’s Representation
Joy L. Bivins
Thesis DT 3.5 2003 B58
viii, 114 leaves : ill.; 29 cm.
In this project, I attempt to understand how contemporary visual representation of African Americans both mediates and references the historical legacy that has confronted the Black female body. This has been accomplished through examining the historical legacy of Black women's visual representations in western culture, analyzing contemporary visions of the Black female body in African American print media, and tracing artists' responses to such representation and deconstruction of the myths associated with it.
Two critical periods in contemporary Black culture are analyzed for the purpose of this study. The first period spans the 1960s and 1970s when Black women's visual representation was redefined during the era of the Black Arts and Black Power movements. The second period encompasses the 1980s to the present as hip-hop culture has effectively provided a useful lens through which to analyze such representation. The main argument centers around the paradoxical notion that both resistance and contradictions exist within the realm of Black cultural production.
While many scholars have focused on various aspects of artistic and visual media in analyses of Black representational politics, with film at the apex and other aspects of the visual arts, such as photography not falling far behind, Black serial publications have not been sufficiently investigated. This has happened despite the fact that Black periodicals provide an excellent source for gauging the state of Black women's visual representation, in regards to the plethora of images alone. Therefore, the core of this project includes visual analysis of contemporary Black periodicals, Ebony, Essence, The Source Magazine of Hip Hop Music, Culture, and Politics and Vibe. Ultimately, these sources highlight the contradictions and resistance that accompany the display of Black and female bodies.