William M. Van Cleve Professor of Law; Vice Provost of the University; Faculty with the Feminist Critical Analysis Seminar
Originally Published In
Davis, Adrienne D. and Chang, Robert S., The Adventure(S) of Blackness in Western Culture: An Epistolary Exchange on Old and New Identity Wars. 39 UC Davis Law Review 1189 (2006); UNC Legal Studies Research Paper No. 06-1; Loyola-LA Legal Studies Paper No. 2006-20. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=874752
Through a series of letters, Professors Robert Chang and Adrienne Davis examine the politics of positionality in law and literary criticism. They use the scholarly debates and conversations around critical race theory and feminist legal theory as a starting point to formulate some thoughts about Critical Race Feminism ("CRF") and its future. The authors use the epistolary form as a literary device to allow them to collaborate on this project while maintaining their own voices. Thus, the letters are not dated.
The letters pay particular attention to various border crossings: male attempts to engage in feminist literary criticism, white attempts to engage in African American literary criticism, and attempts to engage in black male, black feminist criticism. The racial politics of identity, boundaries, and theory are ones that the late Professors Jerome Culp, Trina Grillo, and Marilyn Yarbrough dedicated much of their lives to pursuing. This is reflected in their scholarship, which challenged existing modes of legal reasoning about race, gender, and theories of justice, and thus effected paradigm shifts in all areas. Moreover, Professors Culp, Grillo, and Yarbrough encouraged progressive legal scholars of color to think about the issues raised over the meaning and politics of black feminism, the role of theory in reasoning about race and the law, the fluidity of racial identity and its political implications, the transcendence of binary legal models, the importance of community and collaboration, and above all, an abiding disrespect for boundaries.
The letters are wide-ranging with regard to the texts that they engage, moving from Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon to monuments to the film Monster's Ball. The letters examine some contentious academic debates, such as those between "race men" and black feminists and between critical race theorists and their critics. In all of this, the central questions relate to who speaks and, as corollaries, who is allowed to speak and what is remembered. These questions may be methodological entry points for those doing critical race feminism.
Davis, Adrienne D. and Chang, Robert S., "The Adventure(S) of Blackness in Western Culture: An Epistolary Exchange on Old and New Identity Wars" (2006). Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies Research. 16.