Photo of Venetria Patton

Venetria Patton

Promoted to Professor
English, African American Studies 

Venetria K. Patton is Director of African American Studies and Research Center and Professor of English.  She is also affiliated with American Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.  Dr. Patton’s research focus is black women’s writing with a particular interest in the way in which their writing responds to issues related to the history of slavery.  Her first book, a Choice 2000 Outstanding Academic Book, Women in Chains: The Legacy of Slavery in Black Women’s Fiction (SUNY, 2000), explores nineteenth-century black women writers’ responses to stereotypes which developed during the slavery era.  Professor Patton’s most recent book, The Grasp That Reaches Beyond the Grave: The Ancestral Call in Black Women’s Texts, argues that black women writers’ use of elder and ancestor figures is informed by the depiction of black enslaved women as “natally dead.”  According to Patton, this view of black women as disconnected from their progeny has impacted the type of extended family depicted in their texts, which frequently includes elders and even ancestors who have since left the realm of the living but whose presence is clearly felt.  In addition to these monographs, Professor Patton is editor of Background Readings for Teachers of American Literature (Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2006), co-editor of Double-Take: A Revisionist Harlem Renaissance Anthology (Rutgers, 2001), editor of a special issue of Black Women, Gender, and Families, and co-editor of a special issue of The Black Scholar.  Her essays have appeared in Black Studies and Women’s Studies journals as well as the essay collections, Postcolonial Perspectives on Women Writers From Africa, the Caribbean, and the US (Africa World Press, 2003), White Scholars/African American Texts (Rutgers UP, 2005), and Imagining the Black Female Body: Reconciling Image in Print and Visual Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).  A revised second edition of Background Readings for Teachers of American Literature is forthcoming later this year. 

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