Words of Witness — Reviews: 

Ambitious, timely, engaging, and provocative. Angela Ards, erudite and remarkably widely read, situates her analysis of a new political ethic grounded in black women’s experience at the intersection of autobiography studies, feminism, black literary history, and cultural and political theory.
— Julia Watson, coeditor of Women, Autobiography, Theory: A Reader
Angela Ards richly expands the study of black women’s life writing, to urge reading them as black political thought.
— Joycelyn K. Moody, author of Course Guide for the Norton Anthology of African American Literature

Purchase Words of Witness here:


Words of Witness:
Black Women’s Autobiography in the Post-Brown Era
(Madison: U of Wisconsin P) 

Finalist for Foreword Reviews' 2016 INDIES Book of the Year Award in Women's Studies

Recognized by the Huffington Post as one of ten notable books on black women's history in 2016

In this book, Angela Ards explores how black women writers craft life stories that reframe the traditional civil rights and Black Power movement narratives, engaging and shaping contemporary political thought. Exploring works by the critically acclaimed June Jordan and Edwidge Danticat, as well as by popular and emerging authors such as Melba Beals, Rosemary Bray, and Eisa Davis, Ards demonstrates how each text asserts countermemories to official—and often nostalgic—understandings of the civil rights and Black Power movements. She situates each writer as activist-citizen, adopting and remaking particular roles—warrior, “the least of these,” immigrant, hip-hop head—to crystallize a range of black feminist responses to urgent but unresolved political issues. Words of Witness fills a decade-long gap in the scholarship on black women’s autobiography. In departing from examining the gender politics that usually define this scholarship to exploring political thought more broadly, the book helps build the burgeoning field of black women’s intellectual history.


“June Jordan”
American National Biography
ed. Susan Ware
(New York: Oxford U P)

Oxford African American Studies Center
ed. Henry Louis Gates Jr.
(New York: Oxford U P)

“Rhyme and Resist: Organizing the Hip-Hop Generation"
That’s the Joint: the Hip Hop Studies Reader
eds. Murray Forman and Mark Anthony Neal
(New York: Routledge)

"First Person: Chino Hardin Imagines the Promised Land"
Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society, 5.3 (50-70)

"Race Natters: The Chattering Classes Convene on Martha’s Vineyard”
Step into a World: A Global Anthology of the New Black Literature
ed. Kevin Powell
(New York: John Wiley & Sons)

"To Be Young, Female & Black: A Real Live African American Role Model Goes to Work at a Shelter for Homeless Teenage Moms”
Still Lifting, Still Climbing: Contemporary African American Women’s Activism
ed. Kimberly Springer
(New York: New York U P)

"The Diaspora Comes to Dartmouth: August Wilson and Company Discuss the
Future of Black Theatre in America”

American Theatre, 15.5 (Jun 1998): 50-52.