Saturday, January 5, 2019

"'I'm a student of Trudier Harris': Lovalerie King & that generation of exemplary black women lit. scholars

Lovalerie King and Briana Whiteside, both students of Trudier Harris
One of the major, most productive scholars in the field of African American literary studies is Trudier Harris. In addition to publishing numerous articles and several books, she directed dissertations of an incredible number of students.

One of those students, of course, was Lovalerie. I was always fascinated by how she'd invoke Harris's teachings. It was usually after someone was surprised at Lovalerie pulling off some large-scale project. She'd retell a story to me, and she'd often conclude the stories the same way: "They don't understand that I'm a student of Trudier."

For Lovalerie, being a student of Trudier Harris meant being invested in thorough, high quality works by black folks. It meant she was supposed to acquire and continuously expand knowledge in various areas. It meant carrying one's self as a thoughtful sister-scholar.

It also meant keeping Harris's expectations in mind and imagining conversations with her about major decisions. "I knew what Trudier would say if I didn't," Lovalerie would tell me when I asked about one of her latest accomplishments.

When I first met Lovalerie in 2003, she told me that she wanted to eventually produce a large-scale project on a generation of black women literature scholars. Barbara Christian. Eleanor Traylor. Cheryl A. Wall. Maryemma Graham. Karla F. C. Holloway. Deborah E. McDowell. Trudier Harris, and several others. She thought that these scholars had collectively done groundbreaking work during the 1980s and 1990s, and had not been adequately acknowledged for their contributions.

That generation of black women scholars was an inspiration to Lovalerie. They were a source of her strength. Her strength also came from her own long journeys.

Part 3: "I used to pick cotton": Lovalerie King and perspective

Lovalerie King in context
A Notebook on Lovalerie King

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