Cover for Thompson: Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class. Click for larger image

Beyond the Black Lady

Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class
Awards and Recognition:

Received an honorable mention for the National Women's Studies Association's Gloria E. Anzaldua Book Prize, 2010.

Representing the sexuality of black middle-class women in contemporary popular culture

In this book, Lisa B. Thompson explores the representation of black middle-class female sexuality by African American women authors in narrative literature, drama, film, and popular culture, showing how these depictions reclaim black female agency and illustrate the difficulties black women confront in asserting sexual agency in the public sphere. Thompson broadens the discourse around black female sexuality by offering an alternate reading of the overly determined racial and sexual script that casts the middle class "black lady" as the bastion of African American propriety. Drawing on the work of black feminist theorists, she examines symptomatic autobiographies, novels, plays, and key episodes in contemporary American popular culture, including works by Anita Hill, Judith Alexa Jackson, P. J. Gibson, Julie Dash, Kasi Lemmons, Jill Nelson, Lorene Cary, and Andrea Lee.


“[Thompson] finds that some Black women are pioneering new ways to be and to give voice to a more fully actualized, human, female persona. This new woman is long overdue.”--Diverse: Issues in Higher Education

"In refreshingly clear prose, Lisa B. Thompson renders a complex and nuanced reading of black middle-class women from both fiction and real life. This study makes an important intervention in the discourse on what has heretofore been an under-theorized subject."--E. Patrick Johnson, author of Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South

"A path-breaking, cogently argued, bold study of the ways in which black women writers and public figures have engaged, confronted, resisted, or overturned prevailing notions of black middle-class women's sexuality. This book makes a powerful contribution to debates in race studies, gender and sexuality studies, performance studies, and literary and cultural studies."--Valerie Smith, author of Not Just Race, Not Just Gender: Black Feminist Readings


Lisa B. Thompson is an associate professor in the department of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of the play Single Black Female.

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