This is a rich, multifaceted volume that leaves few if any stones unturned in exploring the themes of

        sex, sexuality, and feminism in relation to Black women.”

     —Noliwe Rooks, Cornell University

      Unbought and Unbossed is an interesting exploration of black female sexual politics and literary

      representations of black womanhood at the intersection of three political and aesthetic

      movements: black nationalism, (black) feminism, and postmodernism. I was especially impressed

      with Melancon’s close readings of the primary texts and her analysis of the symbolic sexual play

      and coming of age of the characters. This book is a welcome addition to the very few literary

      studies that deal explicitly with black womanhood and transgressive sexuality.”

      —Eve Dunbar, Associate Professor of English at Vassar College and author of Black Regions of the Imagination:

           African American Writers between the Nation and the World (Temple)

“Trimiko Melancon offers beautiful and complex readings of novels by Toni Morrison, Ann Allen

      Shockley, Alice Walker, Gayl Jones, and Gloria Naylor while effortlessly synthesizing a generation

      of scholarship on black sexuality. Unbought and Unbossed is a refreshingly innovative new work

      destined to become a classic.”

​      —Robert F. Reid-Pharr, author of Once You Go Black: Choice, Desire, and the Black American Intellectual




            Unbought and Unbossed examines black women’s literary and cultural production of the

             1970s  and early 1980s. Considering texts in the socio-cultural and historical moments of 

              their production, Trimiko Melancon analyzes representations of black women that not only

              transgress racial, gender, and sexual boundaries, but also diverge from both discourses of 

              “whiteness” and constructions of female identity imposed by black nationalism. Drawing

              from black feminist and critical race theories, discourses on gender and sexuality, and

              literary criticism, Melancon illuminates the complexity of black female identity, desire, and

              intimacy. She sheds light on a more complex black identity, one ungoverned by rigid politics

              over-determined by race, gender, and sexuality, while also enabling us to better understand

              the black sexual revolution, contemporary cultural moments, and representations in the 

​              age of Michelle Obama.

      This volume provides an illuminating discourse about the meaning, metaphors, and magnitude of

        black female sexuality as an agent of both oppression and transformation."

     Paula J. Giddings, author of IDA: A Sword Among Lions


​​Edited by Trimiko Melancon & Joanne M. Braxton

Foreword by Melissa Harris-Perry


             Western culture has long regarded black female sexuality with a strange mix of fascination

             and condemnation, associating it with everything from desirability, hypersexuality, and

             liberation to vulgarity, recklessness, and disease. Yet even as their bodies and sexualities

             have been the subject of countless public discourses, black women’s voices have been largely

             marginalized in these discussions. In this groundbreaking collection, feminist scholars from

             across the academy come together to correct this omission—illuminating black female sexual

             desires marked by agency and empowerment, as well as pleasure and pain, to reveal the ways

             black women regulate their sexual lives. 

             The twelve original essays in Black Female Sexualities reveal the diverse ways black women

             perceive, experience, and represent sexuality. The contributors highlight the range of tactics

             that black women use to express their sexual desires and identities. Yet they do not shy away

             from exploring the complex ways in which black women negotiate the more traumatic aspects

             of sexuality and grapple with the legacy of negative stereotypes. 

             Black Female Sexualities takes not only an interdisciplinary approach—drawing from critical

             race theory, sociology, and performance studies—but also an intergenerational one, in

             conversation with the foremothers of black feminist studies. In addition, it explores a diverse

             archive of representations, covering everything from blues to hip-hop, from Crash to Precious,

             from Sister Souljah to Edwidge Danticat. Revealing that black female sexuality is anything but a

             black-and-white issue, this collection demonstrates how to appreciate a whole spectrum of

             subjectivities, experiences, and desires.  

      Unbought and Unbossed is an eloquently written and well-organized book about an important

      era in black women's literary tradition.” 

       —LaMonda Horton Stallings, Associate Professor of Gender Studies at Indiana University Bloomington and

             author of Mutha’ Is Half a Word: Intersections of Folklore, Vernacular, Myth, and Queerness in Black Female



    What the critics are saying ...      

Scholar. Writer.  Intellectual  Activist .

“[A] critical analysis of five 'post-1960s black women's texts.' ... Perhaps most provocatively,

       Melancon concentrates on the transgressive sexuality present in all of these books... and 

       asserts its importance to the authors' larger project.... [S]erious readers of African-American

       literature will value the innovative observations offered on the intersection of 'race, gender,

      and sexuality' in American life and letters."

​      Publishers Weekly