Teaching

Our Voices This Time
A Short Film By
African American Literature Students

Mississippi State University 


Our Voices This Time is a short film inspired by James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time and produced by students in Dr. Jervette R. Ward's African American Literature Class at Mississippi State University. This film is different from the original vision and plan, mainly due to the Coronavirus constraints, but we have learned a lot from our inspiration, James Baldwin, about what it means to write and produce work in imperfect times. We hope this film will inspire you to explore Baldwin's work and learn more about his writings on race, America, and facing the challenges of the moment. Follow @OurVoicesDoc on Twitter and Instagram to learn more about this project. #OurVoicesThisTime
The following are a sampling of the courses taught by Dr. Jervette R. Ward.

These courses include both graduate and undergraduate levels.

Food and Identity in Literature

Through food & literature, we are able to learn about our own identities & cultures, & we are able to explore the identities & cultures of those not like ourselves. Food may be considered a necessity, & literature may be considered a luxury; however, the combination of the two can be viewed as a worthy indulgence. We look at the role of food in literature & explore the ways the two have influenced each other. We consider how culture & identity have been shaped by food in narrative works.

The Black Literary Diaspora: From Africa to Europe to the Americas

The Black American literary experience is connected to the larger Black literary diaspora. We explore the vastness of the Black diaspora & connect the African, European, & American Black literary experience via historical & theoretical lenses. In particular, we focus on the Black American Expat experience.

Narrative Nonfiction -- "Herstory: Writing Themselves Into Existence"

The Black female literary voice was long considered silent, but if one listens, there are voices straining to be heard. Harriet Jacobs, Elizabeth Keckley, Ida B. Wells, Zora Neale Hurston, & Anne Moody narrate their own history & create a series of “herstories” that build upon each other. In this course, we explore how these five women “write themselves into existence." The study of their autobiographical works provides a unique approach to the genre of narrative nonfiction.

Women's Lives in Film & Fiction

We study works of literature written by women & analyze film adaptations of the literature. We consider how each film represents a director’s interpretation of the work rather than simply a visual version of it. The course explores the multicultural aspects of the female experience by looking at African American, Asian, Hispanic, British, & Southern American literature. Both the “classics” of women’s literature & the modern-day concept of “chick-lit” are explored.

Southern Literature: The South Got Somethin' To Say

The South is a mystical place, yet a real place. It is beautiful, yet ugly. It is warm, yet frigid. The South is a land of contradictions. It is a land of sweet tea and magnolias, yet it is also a land of Strange Fruit. It is Grit and Grind, and it’s Southern Hospitality. This course is a theoretical and critical study of literature of the American South in terms of race, social class, gender, region, and language.

Race and the Media

This course looks at how race & racial constructs are represented in media; however, it is imprudent to consider race without also considering gender & class, so we look at the intersections of all three constructs in media & popular culture.