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2024 Conference - Un-Bioed: Radically Reimagining Black Women's Lives

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Un-Bioed: Radically Reimagining Black Women's Lives

March 28th, 2024: 4 pm-6 pm and March 29th, 2024: 9 am-3 pm


William T. Young Library Auditorium and Alumni Gallery, University of Kentucky

Co-Sponsors: The Commonwealth Institute for Black Studies, University of Kentucky and African American Studies, Wake Forest University

Presented by the Black Women's Biography Collective

March 28th Program 

4:00-5:00 pm: Keynote - Salamishah Tillet (Introduction by Dr. Vanessa Holden, UK)

5:00-6:00 pm: Reception

March 29th Program

9:00-10:30 am: Towards A Communal Ethic of Black Women's Life Writing

Ashley D. Farmer (University of Texas, Austin), K.T. Ewing (University of Alabama), Shanna Benjamin (Wake Forest University), moderated by Anastasia Curwood (University of Kentucky)

10:45-12:00 pm: The Art of Writing: How to Create Characters, Texture, and Voice

Bridgett Davis (Baruch College) (Introduction by Savannah Bowen, MFA student, UK)

12:00-1:15 pm: Lunch Break

1:30-3:00 pm: Making Your Mark: Book Marketing Strategies in the Social Media Age

Tanisha Ford (City University of New York) (Introduction by Dr. Aria Halliday, UK)

Admission is free. 

Reserve your tickets here!

Reserve your hotel room here!


About the Speakers


Shanna Greene Benjamin is Professor of African American Studies at Wake Forest University. A biographer and scholar who studies the literature, lives, and archives of Black women, she has published on African American literature and Black women's intellectual history in African American ReviewMELUSPMLA, and Studies in American Fiction. Her book, Half in Shadow (2021), a biography of Norton Anthology of African American Literature co-editor Nellie Y. McKay, received the 2022 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Nonfiction (Memoir/Biography category) and was an Honorable Mention for the MLA’s 2022 William Sanders Scarborough Prize. Thanks to the NEH’s Fellowships Open Book Program, Half in Shadow is free and readily available to the public at and your favorite online bookseller. 

Anastasia Curwood is Professor of History and Director of the Commonwealth Institute for Black Studies, joined the UK Department of History and African American & Africana Studies in 2014. Her work has been recognized with fellowships from the Ford Foundation, The Institute for Citizens & Scholars, and the James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference at Emory University. She is the author of Stormy Weather: Middle-Class African American Marriages Between the Two World Wars (2010). Her most recent book is Shirley Chisholm: Champion of Black Feminist Power Politics (2023).

 Bridgett M. Davis is the author of the memoir, The World According To Fannie Davis: My Mother’s Life In The Detroit Numbers, a New York Times Editors’ Choice, a 2020 Michigan Notable Book, named a Best Book of 2019 by Kirkus Reviews, BuzzFeed, NBC News and Parade Magazine and most recently featured as a clue on the quiz show Jeopardy!  The upcoming film adaptation will be produced by Plan B Entertainment and released by Searchlight Pictures. 

 Davis is currently writing a new memoir, Love, Rita, to be published by Harper Books in spring 2025. 

 She is author of two novels, Into the Go-Slow, named a Best Book of 2014 by The San Francisco Chronicle, and Shifting Through Neutral, shortlisted for the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award.  

 Davis is also writer/director of the 1998 award-winning feature film Naked Acts, newly restored by Milestone Films and Kino Lorber, and slated for select theaters in June 2024. 

Davis is Professor Emerita in the Department of Journalism and the Writing Professions at Baruch College and the CUNY Graduate Center, where she has taught creative, narrative and film writing.  

Her essays have appeared most recently in The New York Times, The Millions, Real Simple, the LA Times and O, the Oprah Magazine. A graduate of Spelman College and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, she lives in Brooklyn with her family. Visit her website at\ 

K.T. Ewing is an Associate Professor of Gender and Race Studies at the University of Alabama. She is a proud third-generation HBCU graduate whose interests include Black history, women and gender studies, and the influence of blues culture in American society. She has writings published in The Black ScholarBlack PerspectivesTransformations in Africana Studies, and Black Female Sexualities. Her current book project, Remember My Name: Alberta Hunter and the Two-Faced Archive, examines the life of Alberta Hunter, a twentieth-century blues and cabaret singer from Memphis, Tennessee. 

Tanisha C. Ford is Professor of History and Biography and Memoir at The Graduate Center, CUNY. She is the author of Our Secret Society: Mollie Moon and the Money, Glamour, and Power Behind the Civil Rights Movement (Amistad/HarperCollins, 2023), which was named one of Vanity Fair’s and Ms. Magazine’s Best Books of 2023. She’s also written three other books: Liberated Threads: Black Women, Style, and the Global Politics of Soul (UNC Press, 2015), winner of the OAH Liberty Legacy Foundation Award for Best Book on Civil Rights History; Dressed in Dreams: A Black Girl’s Love Letter to the Power of Fashion (St. Martin’s, 2019); and Kwame Brathwaite: Black is Beautiful (Aperture, 2019). She writes regularly for public audiences, with stories in the Atlantic, New York Times, Time, Elle, and Harper's Bazaar, among others. In 2019, Ford was named to The Root’s 100 Most Influential African Americans list for her innovative, public-facing scholarship. Her research has been supported by institutions including New America/Emerson Collective, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Smithsonian Museum of American History, Harvard Radcliffe Institute, Ford Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Ford is currently writing an experimental biography of sculptor and arts institution builder Augusta Savage, which will be published by Penguin Press—as part of Henry Louis Gates Jr’s “Significations” series. For more information, visit her website: 

Salamishah Tillet won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for criticism for her work at The New York Times Magazine for columns examining race, genre, and Black perspectives as the arts and entertainment world responded to the Black Lives Matter movement with new works. She is also the author of In Search of The Color Purple: The Story of an American Masterpiece, and is currently working on a book on the civil rights icon, Nina Simone. She is currently the Henry Rutgers Professor of Africana Studies and Creative Writing and the Director of Express Newark , a center for socially engaged art and design at Rutgers University–Newark. In 2003, she and her sister Scheherazade Tillet founded the arts organization A Long Walk Home.