As doctoral students, we—Alexis McGee and ReAnna Roby—see the need to disrupt the skewed perceptions of Black Feminism illustrated in texts, characters, and conversations found in not only our daily lives but also the academy. We see the opportunity to utilize “Theresa, A ___ Haytien Tale,” in English classrooms—more specifically World Literature, Comparative Literature, Women’s Literature—and/or Literacy and Education courses housed in Black Studies or emphasizing Black Studies as a way to document a change in Feminist perspectives. (more…)
Adam Kotlarczyk, Ph.D.
Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy
I am fortunate to work with a population of gifted high school students, and when a colleague introduced me to “Theresa, A Haytien Tale” and its fascinatingly mysterious genesis in the fall of 2014, I was able to incorporate it quickly into my curriculum. It fit neatly into our sophomore core course that blends composition and American literature.
I teach the course more or less as a chronological survey, emphasizing the historicism and frequently taking New Historical perspectives. It is a two semester sequence, with the first semester covering Native American literatures and discovery up until 1900. Because the timeframe frequently overlaps with the American Studies curriculum, this approach works well, as the courses often reinforce each other. It also allows us to develop and explore, as a class, the shifting historic, philosophical, scientific, literary, and other influences as American literature evolves – what I call the story or narrative of American literature. It is this interplay of influences, the dialogue of history in the narrative of American literature, that my students and I found to be one of the most compelling aspects of “Theresa.” (more…)
Illinois Math and Science Academy
One of the core beliefs of the Illinois Math and Science Academy (IMSA) states that we believe that “diverse perspectives enrich understanding and inspire discovery and creativity,” and in keeping with that aim, I chose to participate in the Just Teach One: Early African American Print project. As a school primarily focused on STEM subjects, IMSA still offers a robust English curriculum that values and supports a diverse literary canon, and our incoming sophomores are asked to complete a two-part Literary Explorations course that features America texts from colonial era up to the 21st century.
During the first semester of this course, I assigned my students to read “Theresa: A Haytien Tale” as part of my “Slavery, Speeches, and Politics” unit that examined fiction and non-fiction such as excerpts from Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin and selections from The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass. The “Theresa” short story was assigned earlier in the unit as the class studied rhetorical strategies and discussed the persuasive qualities of different genres of writing. (more…)
Sue E. Denman Distinguished Chair in American Literature
University of Texas at San Antonio
I taught “Theresa” in a graduate seminar titled “Black Feminist Theory: Telling Academic Life” at the University of Texas at San Antonio during the Fall 2014 term. There were eight students; the extraordinary demographics were as follows: all women; five doctoral students and three Masters level; two students represented our university’s College of Education and Human Development while the rest of us were affiliated with the English Department; ethnically, the students identified in turn as African American (1), black and white (1), white (1), Puerto Rican (1), and Chicana (4, all queer-identified, as am I). These demographics richly informed our learning about “Theresa” with significant yet unplanned effects, as we each brought a unique awareness as well as a collective consciousness of multifarious forms of oppression, proceeding from gendered chauvinism and white supremacy and extending through homophobia and other hatreds. (more…)