Present(ing) Historical Memory: Beah Richards' "A Black Woman Speaks," Performance, and a Pedagogy of Whiteness

Annette Wannamaker
March 2004
Theatre Topics;Mar2004, Vol. 14 Issue 1, p339
Academic Journal
This essay discusses the study and in-class performance of Beah Richards' work, "A Black Woman Speaks." It explores teaching "A Black Woman Speaks" in a three-fold way-as a literary text, a cultural text, and as a performance text-and it demonstrates that this combination of pedagogical approaches enhances students' understanding of the complexities of Richards' work. Discussing Richards' work within a historical and cultural context helps to create historical memory and to make visible the ways white and black womanhood have been dependent upon one another for definition throughout history. A performance of the work in class is vital because it places the students/spectators into a position where they must question their own subjectivity and agency. Also, Richards' text and a performance of it, work to enhance a "Pedagogy of Whiteness," an attempt to make whiteness visible as a race and to re-construct whiteness as a site for activism against racism.


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