1st Edition

When God Lost Her Tongue Historical Consciousness and the Black Feminist Imagination

By Janell Hobson Copyright 2022
    218 Pages 29 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    218 Pages 29 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    When God Lost Her Tongue explores historical consciousness as captured through the Black feminist imagination that re-centers the perspectives of Black women in the African Diaspora, and revisits how Black women’s transatlantic histories are re-imagined and politicized in our contemporary moment.

    Connecting select historical case studies – from the Caribbean, the African continent, North America, and Europe – while also examining the retelling of these histories in the work of present-day writers and artists, Janell Hobson utilizes a Black feminist lens to rescue the narratives of African-descended women, which have been marginalized, erased, forgotten, and/or mis-remembered. African goddesses crossing the Atlantic with captive Africans. Women leaders igniting the Haitian Revolution. Unnamed Black women in European paintings. African women on different sides of the "door of no return" during the era of the transatlantic slave trade. Even ubiquitous "Black queens" heralded and signified in a Beyoncé music video or a Janelle Monáe lyric. And then there are those whose names we will never forget, like the iconic Harriet Tubman.

    This critical interdisciplinary intervention will be key reading for students and researchers studying African American women, Black feminisms, feminist methodologies, Africana studies, and women and gender studies.



    Chapter 1

    A Meditation on Black Feminist Divinity

    Chapter 2

    Reframing Portraits of Black Womanhood

    Chapter 3

    Revolving Doors of No Return

    Chapter 4

    Cultural Currency and the Value of Harriet Tubman

    Chapter 5

    To Play the Queen, To Embody the Goddess




    Janell Hobson is Professor and Chair of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University at Albany, State University of New York, USA.

    "From Harriet Tubman to Beyoncé, this is a book for anyone interested in the politics of Black female representation across the arts. In accessible language and through cogent analysis, Janell Hobson’s When God Lost Her Tongue: Historical Consciousness and the Black Feminist Imagination explores African Diasporic women’s lives as represented by others and by themselves through paintings, film, novels, music and poetry, to vivify what it means, and has always meant, to be Black and female under colonial eyes. The result is a text as freeing as it is edifying for Black women of yesteryear as of today."

    Myriam J. A. Chancy, HBA Chair in the Humanities, Scripps College, USA, and author of Autochthonomies: Transnationalism, Testimony and Transmission in the African Diaspora

    "Janell Hobson's When God Lost Her Tongue is an epic Black feminist story, one that analyzes how Black Women artists and writers engage the past in order to imagine more liberatory futures. With deft analysis and dazzling insights, Hobson takes across space, African Diasporic traditions, and academic disciplines to reveal how Black women theorize their relationship to history and, by doing so, opens up new possibilities and genealogies for our understanding of the Divine, the Black Body, and Freedom itself."

    Salamishah Tillet, Henry Rutgers Professor of African American Studies and Creative Writing, Rutgers University,  USA, and author of In Search of The Color Purple: The Story of an American Masterpiece

    "When God Lost Her Tongue is imperative. It clearly and profoundly demonstrates the liberating power of the Black feminist imagination."

    Ibram X. Kendi, National Book Award-winning author of Stamped from the Beginning and How to Be an Antiracist 

    "This book is essential reading for any instructor interested in expansive learning, as it allows students to imagine beyond the epistemological confines of a Western teaching of history. It is replete with stories that tempt readers to explore further. A whole course could be designed around this book. I recommend its inclusion in reading packets for courses in Black studies, history, and gender studies."

    Ejim Dyke, RGWS: A Feminist Review