William Bentinck-Smith Fellow
Southern Methodist University
Cultural Studies
Affirmative Acts: The Ethics of Self-Fashioning in Contemporary African American Women's Autobiography

Angela Ards is an assistant professor of English at Southern Methodist University, where she specializes in African American literature and culture, 20th-century American literature, critical gender studies, and autobiography. For 15 years, she has also worked as a journalist reporting on the ways black communities are creating new vocabularies and strategies to address the political and moral dilemmas of the post–civil rights era.

At Radcliffe, Ards will draw on this passion for storytelling and social justice to complete “Affirmative Acts: The Ethics of Self-Fashioning in Contemporary Black Women’s Autobiography.” The project examines how writers use their life stories to craft new ways of thinking about black identity, agency, and history. In putting texts that engage era-defining debates in conversation with one another—from the limits of civil-rights discourse and the impact of immigration to the rise and fall of hip hop—Ards simulates a deliberative space that invites readers to weigh a plurality of perspectives and, drawing from each, fashion a discourse that accounts for the emergent social ethics of post–civil rights black America.

Ards has a PhD in English from Princeton University. Her widely anthologized journalism, essays, and reviews have appeared in the Crisis, Essence, the Los Angeles Times Book Review, Ms., the Nation, and the Village Voice. She has also held residencies at Princeton’s Center for the Study of Religion, at Columbia University as a Charles H. Revson Fellow, and at the Nation Institute as the inaugural Haywood Burns Fellow.

This information is accurate as of the fellowship year indicated for each fellow.