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Baldwin, James. “The Preservation of Innocence.” Collected Essays. New York: Library of America, 1998. 594-600.

PS3552.A45 A16 1998
To understand Baldwin's significance for the gay literary heritage, one must begin with Baldwin's little-known essay titled "The Preservation of Innocence." He published it in Zero, an obscure and now defunct Moroccan journal, in the summer of 1949; it did not appear in print in the United States until 1989, when it was published in Out/Look with a foreword by Melvin Dixon.
In this early essay--one of very few nonfiction narratives in which Baldwin explicitly engages the subject of homosexuality--he defends the naturalness and legitimacy of homosexual desire and suggests that homophobia is a consequence of heterosexual panic. Hostility toward homosexuals, like racially motivated hostility, signals a radical failure of imagination and an inability to acknowledge the fullness of one's own humanity. These early insights anticipate his subsequent treatment of gay and bisexual themes in his fiction. [From Emmanuel S. Nelson,,2.html]

Boykin, Keith. Beyond the Down Low: Sex, Lies, and Denial in Black America.  New York: Carroll & Graff, 2005.

HQ74.2.U5 B69 2005
In the past year, J.L. King's On the Down Low: A Journey into the Lives of "Straight" Black Men Who Sleep with Men, a New York Times Magazine piece and Oprah attention helped make a cultural phenomenon out of life "on the DL." Here, writer and activist Boykin (One More River to Cross) addresses what he sees as the implicitly racist and homophobic undertones of the media's coverage. He offers a point-by-point refutation of King's take on the DL - King's book, Boykin says, suffers from overgeneralizations, inconsistencies and distortions - and accuses King of serving up another "stereotypical image of black men as pathological liars, surreptitiously satisfying their primitive sexual cravings by cheating on their wives." But the heart of Boykin's argument is that the media, which often blame closeted black men for transmitting HIV to their female partners, are avoiding the opportunity to responsibly discuss the realities of sexuality, gender, race and AIDS. Boykin lucidly draws on science as well as personal experience in this important book. And while many of the cultural manifestations of black sexuality that Boykin documents here are fascinating - e.g., references to the DL (which Boykin defines as cheating on a partner regardless of one's sexuality) in popular music - the power of his book comes from his impassioned call to examine the real facts of sexual behavior and HIV transmission. [From Publisher's Weekly]

Harper, Phillip Brian, "The Evidence of Felt Intuition: Minority Experience, Everyday Life, and Critical Speculative Knowledge." Black Queer Studies: A Critical Anthology. Ed. E. Patrick Johnson and Mae G. Henderson. Durham, NH: Duke University Press, 2005. 106-123.

E184.7.B535 2005
Harper’s “The Evidence of Felt Intuition” is brilliant. The essay posits personal intuition as a site of verifiable evidence, the type of evidence that is vaunted in academic circles. Harper claims that the academic’s research interests spring from somewhere, and that locale is probably internal intuition. The primary concern is not how intuition can be qualified or measured but rather what the intuition gives rise to in terms of contemplation: “The point, however, is not the peril, but rather the fact that we cannot test it, for not to proceed speculatively is, to speak plainly, not to live. And it certainly is not to perform critical analysis, which incontrovertibly depends on speculative logic for the force of its arguments." Following this mention of “speculative logic,” Harper refers to “speculative habit” which, presumably, comes from practicing speculative logic.  [From]

Lorde, Audre. Zami: A New Spelling of My Name (1982). Freedom, CA: The Crossing Press, 2001.

PS3562.075 Z23 1982
ZAMI is a fast-moving chronicle. From the author’s vivid childhood memories in Harlem to her coming of age in the late 1950s, the nature of Audre Lorde’s work is cyclical. It especially relates the linkage of women who have shaped her . . . Lorde brings into play her craft of lush description and characterization. It keeps unfolding page after page. [From Off Our Backs]

Peplau, Letitia Anne, Susan D. Cochran, Vickie M. Mays. "A National Survey of the Intimate Relationships of African American Lesbian and Gay Men: A Look at commitment, Satisfaction, Sexual Behavior, and HIV Disease." Ethnic and Cultural Diversity Among Lesbians and Gay Men. Ed. Beverly Greene. London: Sage Publications, 1997. 11-38.

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Shockley, Ann Allen. The Black and White of It. Tallahassee, FL: The Naiad Press Inc., 1987. 

 PS3569.H568 B5 1980  

Shockley, who has named herself a "social[ly] conscious writer," extends her fictional treatment of interracial and lesbian experiences with her collection of short stories, The Black and White of It (1980), which celebrates the gains women have made in the wake of racial and sexual oppression.


Smith, Barbara and Beverly Smith, "Across the Kitchen Table: A Sister-to- Sister Dialogue." This Bridge Called My Back: Writings By Radical Women of Color (1981). 3rd Woman Press, 2002.

PS509.F44 T5 2002


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 Student Ching Ly designed the official African American Studies program logo. Ly's prize-winning logo was unveiled at the Second Annual African American Studies Spring Lecture on April 19, 2007.