In Search of Our Warrior Mothers

Paper Text – $34.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3693-9
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Publication Date
April 2018
Page Count
216 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

In Search of Our Warrior Mothers

Women Dramatists of the Black Arts Movement
La Donna L. Forsgren

The Black Arts Movement (1965–76) consisted of artists across the United States deeply concerned about the relationship between politics and the black aesthetic. In Search of Our Warrior Mothers examines how the Black Arts Movement provided a forum for black women playwrights to express feminist attitudes from within black nationalist discourses. La Donna L. Forsgren recuperates the careers, artistic theories, and dramatic contributions of leading women playwrights of the Black Arts Movement: Martie Evans-Charles, J.e. Franklin, Sonia Sanchez, and Barbara Ann Teer. Presenting four original case studies, Forsgren uses original interviews, production recordings, playbills, and unpublished manuscripts to investigate the careful negotiations of writers who contributed significantly to the creation, interpretation, and dissemination of black aesthetic theory.

Black feminist drama, Forsgren argues, was a development within the Black Arts Movement, not a sharp break from it. Despite operating within a masculinist context that equated the collective well-being of black people with black male agency, these black women intellectuals centered their dramas around black women, validated female aspirations for autonomy, and explored women’s roles in the struggle for liberation from white hegemony. Whether working from within or outside of tightly knit Black Arts circles, these warrior mothers resisted both racism and sexism and redefined black empowerment to include the liberation of women, men, and children.

In Search of Our Warrior Mothers opens an interdisciplinary conversation at the intersections of theater, performance, feminist, and African American studies, identifying and critiquing the gaps and silences within these fields.

About the Author

LA DONNA L. FORSGREN is an assistant professor in the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre at the University of Notre Dame.

“This is a well-written and highly original study. There currently isn’t another book that covers in such detail the work of these playwrights, and it should therefore make a major contribution to the field of African American theater history.” —Sandra Adell, author of Double-Consciousness/Double Bind: Theoretical Issues in Twentieth-Century Black Literature, and editor of Contemporary Plays by African American Women: Ten Complete Plays

“Anyone interested in the sexual, racial, and aesthetic politics of the Black Arts Movement needs to read La Donna Forsgren’s In Search of Our Warrior Mothers. Combining meticulous textual analysis, archival research, original interviews, and incisive critical sensibility, Forsgren tells a story long overdue. And she tells it brilliantly, disrupting our assumptions about the Black Arts Movement and the woman-centered drama that emerged from it. I closed this book with renewed appreciation of both the plays and the women who wrote them.” —Mike Sell, author of The Avant-Garde: Race Religion War