UT Professor celebrates new book discussing Beyoncé and black feminism

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Photo Credit: Amanda Saunders

A UT professor who pioneered the course on Beyoncé and black feminism now has a book analyzing the singer-songwriter’s art.

Omise’eke Tinsley, African and Africa Diaspora studies associate professor, celebrated the launch of her new book, ‘Beyoncé in Formation: Remixing Black Feminism’ Monday with a book reading and signing event. Since 2015, her “Beyoncé Feminism, Rihanna Womanism” course has discussed black feminism and themes similar to those described in her new book. 

Published by The University of Texas Press, the book analyzes Beyoncé’s visual album, Lemonade, in relation to the sexuality and gender of black women. Tinsley said the book is a “mixtape memoir” demonstrating how she combines these issues. It includes an analysis of Lemonade and her own accounts as a black, queer and
femme woman.

“This book is a love letter to black women, and I hope in writing it that I communicate that black women are loved and lovable, and that our lives not only matter but are brilliant,” Tinsley said.

Candice Lyons, African and African Diaspora studies graduate student, said many reviewers of Lemonade failed to discuss the ways in which Beyoncé communicated a connectedness to her blackness, femininity and feminism. Lyons said Tinsley is one of the first to use the identity of femme, someone who identifies as queer and portrays themselves in a feminine way, in a literary setting.

“‘Femme-eninity’ is something that hasn’t been theorized, so Dr. Tinsley is making this intervention in this book (for something) that isn’t necessarily pervasive in academic spaces yet,” Lyons said.

Lyons said academia tends to discuss themes that relate to many people, and Tinsley’s use of Beyoncé and her art allow those outside of academics to engage in those conversations.

“There’re so many people who maybe aren’t in academic spaces but who connect to Beyoncé on a certain level … that may not be (able to access) a traditional academic text that might find this book more helpful,” Lyons said.

Biology freshman Amaya Lacy, who attended the event, said she is interested in reading Tinsley’s discussion of black women’s sexuality and gender.

“I love Beyoncé very much,” Lacy said. “I always have since I was a little girl. I’m very excited to get more of what (Tinsley) talked about today, like the whole black feminist perspective and what really inspired her to write the book.”

The book will be officially released Nov. 6.