Welcome to Rofhiwa Conversations. You should expect to hear two artists whose work we admire deeply, connect across worlds. Meandrous, is perhaps the best word with which to capture the feeling of this conversation – indeed it is our favorite kind. It goes wherever the spirits deign to take our guests. Like sitting in your mother’s living room and listening in. Our guests may read to one another or they may sing to one another. Our guests may talk about art and craft; about writing and creating and what to do with the frustration of stagnation. They may talk about family or work or love or loss or joy or hunger. Meandrous.
June 9 - Professor Shanna Benjamin and Dr. Barbara Boswell celebrate their new books and lead us in conversation about the intellectual legacies of Black Women in South Africa and the US.
Shanna Greene Benjamin is a biographer and scholar who studies the literature, lives, and archives of Black women. She has published on African American literature and Black women's intellectual history in African American Review, MELUS, and PMLA, Studies in American Fiction. She is a coach who helps graduate students and faculty members write what only they can; she is a consultant who helps colleges and universities engage with inclusivity as a practice.
In Half in the Shadow: The Life and Legacy of Nellie Y McKay, Shanna Greene Benjamin traces the life and legacy of University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Nellie Y. McKay. Benjamin makes visible the hidden story of McKay, the literary scholar who made an indelible mark on higher education by creating space for Black literature, Black scholars, and Black feminist thought.
Barbara Boswell is a feminist literary scholar and creative writer with research and teaching interests in Black diasporic women’s writing, Black South African women’s literature, and queer theory. She is the author of Unmaking Grace: A Novel, winner of the University of Johannesburg Debut Creative Writing Prize. Barbara has taught at the University of Maryland and the University of Virginia, where she was an ACLS Postdoctoral fellow at the Carter G Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies. She has also taught in the English Department at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. She is an editorial board member of the feminist journalAgenda.
In And Wrote My Story Anyway: Black South African Women's Novels as Feminism, Barbara Boswell examines the novels of Black South African women writers during and after apartheid as a site of theory production. Part literally history, part feminist historiography Boswell's And Wrote My Story Anyway argues for Black women's fiction to be read as a subversive site of knowledge production.