At the recent Celebrating African American Literature and Language (CAALL) conference at Penn State, Dr. Bethany Jacobs presented her paper, “Playing with Authenticity in the Afrofuturist Albums of Janelle Monáe.” Dr. Jacobs discussed her success teaching Janelle Monáe’s albums in her ENGL 1102 Black Science Fiction course. Her students have placed Monáe in conversation with the Georgia Tech Science Fiction Archives, campus events like “Afrofuturism and Environmental Justice,” and community events like the Atlanta Sci-Fi Film Festival. In her paper, Dr. Jacobs argued that Monáe’s albums compel a nuanced exploration of how the past, present, and future converge in black science fiction.
Teaching students this lesson has been uniquely possible at Georgia Tech, where the access to wide-ranging events, scholars, and art creates an ideal landscape for sci-fi exploration.
Dr. Bethany Jacobs received her PhD from the University of Oregon in 2014. She teaches and researches Afrofuturism, U.S. multiethnic women’s literature, and histories of social protest, for which she has developed composition textbooks at the University of Oregon. Her essay "Woman Like You: Troubling Same-Sex Desire in Gayl Jones' Corregidora and Eva's Man" has been published in Callaloo, and her article "Mothering Herself: Manifesto of the Erotic Mother in Audre Lorde's Zami" has been published with MELUS. Her current book project, Refusing Mothers: Dystopia and Multiethnic Literature, argues that contemporary speculative literature by Chicana and African American women writers depicts motherhood as an inherently dystopic subject position, one that indicts the work of mid-century social justice movements for failing to include mothers in their liberatory visions.
More about the conference can be found on http://arc.psu.edu/caal2016