Collections and Collaborations for Writing Black Women’s Wellness: Narratives of Practical Research, Pedagogy, and Practice
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Stephanie Y. Evans will discuss her online library of Black women’s memoirs from around the globe and highlight research themes of Black women’s wellness through life writing. Specifically, the curator of this database will show how creation of the digital humanities resource inspired collaborative publications about mind, body, and spirit health for Black women. Projects grounded in life writing include mental health (mind), Black women yoga instructors (spirit), and a community-based project on soup stories as cultural paths to nutrition (body). AfricanaMemoirs.net is an online resource of over 500 narratives created to encourage research grounded in Black women's life stories. This open access database enhances narrative study and broadens the scope of autobiography, memoir, and epistolary writing as a genre. Most importantly, this website inspires the next generation of authors to read and write life stories for empowerment. In the tradition of Sesheta, the Egyptian goddess known as "lady of the house of books," this library gathers together a chorus of voices from around the world and Africana women's stories are as numerous as the spots on Sesheta's leopard print dress. The main theme of these stories is what Anna Julia Cooper calls regeneration. Professor Evans teaches various topics through memoir and the collection allows students to look backward, look inward, and look forward to identify relevant historical and contemporary issues. This presentation will also discuss creative ways to engage memoir as a teaching tool for community service-learning courses that connect with high school curricula. The book Black Passports: Travel Memoirs as Tools for Youth Empowerment (SUNY 2014), provides an example of how research can enhance student learning outcomes for all levels of learning. The presentation will close with discussion of current projects including a memoir review library in the works.