Professor of English and Africana Studies, and Director of the Africana Studies Program, Simone A. James Alexander has won the College Language Association Creative Scholarship Award for her groundbreaking book, African Diasporic Women’s Narratives: Politics of Resistance, Survival and Citizenship published by the University Press of Florida in 2014. Founded in 1937, the College Language Association is an organization of college teachers of English and foreign languages which serves the academic, scholarly and professional interests of its members and it collegiate communities it represents. The CLA Creative Scholarship Award is bestowed to a work of outstanding literary scholarship.
African Diasporic Women’s Narratives offers an in-depth study of literature, analyzing selective texts by the migrant writers Audre Lorde, Edwidge Danticat, Maryse Conde, and Grace Nichols. A multifaceted contribution to studies of gender, race, sexuality, and disability issues, African Diasporic Women’s Narratives engages a range of issues as it grapples with the complex interconnectedness of geography, citizenship, and nationalism.
Extending beyond the boundaries of traditional literary analysis, Alexander focuses on the female body across a corpus of literary production in the Caribbean and elsewhere. Using feminist and womanist theory, she shows that over time, black women have used their bodily presence to complicate and challenge a migratory process often forced upon them by men or patriarchal society. She challenges the stereotypes ascribed to black female sexuality in literature, subverting its assumed definition as diseased, passive, or docile.
The first book to employ the trope of migrating bodies to catalog both physical migration and allegorical journeys, African Diasporic Women’s Narratives offers a unique and creative contribution to literature, as well as the current debates on migration, citizenship, and trans-nationalism. Strengthening black feminist tradition by theorizing and politicizing personal embodied experiences, the book reflects the reality of the politics of black women’s lives, writing their experiences into existence. Furthermore, the book’s engagement with critical race theory, disability studies, and issues of embodiment proves a new contribution to the literature of black women and Caribbean studies. An original and much needed addition to the field of Gender and Sexuality Studies, Caribbean women’s literature and, more broadly, of representations of Black women, African Diasporic Women’s Narratives demonstrates Simone A. James Alexander’s commitment to outstanding scholarship.
Alexander is the author of numerous articles and book chapters. Her multiple contributions to literature also include the monograph, Mother Imagery in the Novels of Afro-Caribbean Women and the co-edited work, Feminist and Critical Perspectives on Caribbean Mothering.
Alexander has traveled across the globe, Europe (Spain, Portugal, France, Russia, Germany), Africa (Ghana, South Africa), North America and the Caribbean (Canada, Jamaica, Grenada, Barbados, Guadeloupe, St. Croix, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Haiti, Puerto Rico, St. Martin/St. Maarten, Dominican Republic, Curaçao), and South and Central America (Belize, Surinam, Panama, Guyana, Argentina, Brazil) to present her work. Additionally, she has travelled across the nation as an invited lecturer. For five consecutive years, Alexander has been invited to the Annual Schomburg–Mellon Humanities Summer Institute, where she holds a seminar on Afro-Caribbean literature. The Harriman Institute, the Newark African Commission, the UNESCO Slave Routes Project, and the New Jersey Council for the Humanities have all invited Alexander as a speaker in various programs on the black diaspora, Caribbean narratives, and civil rights figures.
Alexander came to Seton Hall in 2001. She was promoted to Associate Professor in 2005 and to Full Professor in 2011.