HBW 40th Anniversary Events

Conversation: Celebrating Forty Years of HBW and Black Women's Writing

NOVEMBER 13, 2023, 5:30 PM EST / 4:30 PM CST / 3:30 PM MST / 2:30 PM PST, Zoom

A conversation with Angelyn Mitchell and Danille K. Taylor, co-editors of The Cambridge Companion to African American Women’s Literature, and Courtney Thorsson, author of The Sisterhood: How a Network of Black Women Writers Changed American Culture, moderated by Ayesha Hardison, Director of HBW.

Please click here to view the conversation on Youtube, or you may watch the video here:

The Cambridge Companion to African American Women's Literature 
The Sisterhood: How a Network of Black Women Writers Changed American Culture

Spencer Museum of Art Exhibit: Black Writing


The Black Writing exhibit extends the goals of HBW’s archive of Black storytellers to include art and visual culture. Featured works by contemporary artists, including Paul Stephen Benjamin, Dread Scott and Bethany Collins, incorporate pages from literary texts, song lyrics, family lore, scenes of reading, and media. From themes of surveillance and cultural erasure to dreambooks and words of empowerment, Black Writing explores the power, politics, and complexities of language and Blackness in contemporary culture.

Visit the exhibit archive at the Spencer Museum of Art website 



Exploring the Power of Language: Black Writing Exhibition at Spencer Museum of Art Showcases the Intersection of Visual Art and Literature

New Exhibition at Spencer Museum of Art Explores Storytelling in Black Culture

Octavia Butler’s Classic Science-Fiction Novel Parable of the Sower Sprouts Artistic Seedlings

Black Women in Art and Black Writing in Art on View at Kansas Museums

Exhibition Explores Connection Between Contemporary Art and History of Black Writing

KU's Spencer Museum of Art Hosting 'Black Writing' Exhibit; Will Be Site of Marathon Book Reading Session (Password Required) 

KU Common Book Marathon Reading: Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower

NOVEMBER 29 - 30, 2023, 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM, SPENCER MUSEUM OF ART

KU students, faculty, staff, and community members are invited to participate in a live marathon reading of Octavia Butler’s novel Parable of the Sower, KU's Common Book for 2023-2024. Taking place over two days at the Spencer Museum of Art, reading and listening to the book aloud will allow attendees to experience Butler's world-building within the visually inspiring Black Writing exhibit, which features Fahamu Pecou’s commissioned painting Parable of the Sower: Oya’s Dream. Copies of Butler’s book will be available. 

Visit KU's page on the 2023-2024 Common Book, Parable of the Sower 

Reception Honoring Black Biography:
College Language Association Convention


In commemoration of its 40th Anniversary, HBW hosted a forum and reception with the authors of recent Black biographies at the 2023 College Language Association (CLA) convention. Featured biographers included Maryemma Graham, Tara T. Green, and Shanna Greene Benjamin. 

Visit HBW's page on the Reception Honoring Black Biography

Maryemma Graham - The House Where My Soul Lives: The Life of Margaret Walker

Shanna Greene Benjamin - Half in Shadow: The Life and Legacy of Nellie Y. McKay

Tara T. Green - Love, Activism, and the Respectable Life of Alice Dunbar-Nelson

"HBW at 40 and Beyond: Literary Recovery, Archives, and Digital Humanities"

Modern Language Association Convention


At the forefront of efforts to recover and promote African American literature, HBW has built an expansive archive of works of fiction. After forty years of existence, HBW continues to redefine literary history through research, teaching, and public programming. Panelists in this plenary session discussed its transformation of the canon, archive building, and new initiatives in digital humanities.