Gloria Naylor’s collected papers are a rich, albeit partial, record of her creative process. But, we also understand that the Archive is not about Naylor alone. It is also a window into transnational networks of writers and activists who, between the 1980s and the first few years of the 21st century, exposed the workings of racism, sexism, homophobia, and classism to envision more just social arrangements. Further, the Archive is a source of inspiration for researchers whose creative and intellectual projects will continue to expand these networks tomorrow.
Thus, we approach the Archive not only as a record of the past, but also as a movement toward new communities and different futures. In this sense, we take our cue from Naylor’s novels, like Mama Day, in which past, present, and future are mutually transformative. Written between 1981 and 2010, Naylor’s published works and her private papers offer fresh insights into pressing contemporary political issues today. For instance, her published and unpublished writings speak to issues of mass incarceration and police violence, migration and gentrification, religion and sexuality, racism and sexism in higher education, the enduring legacies of enslavement and colonization in North America, capitalism and globalization, as well as the power of Black joy, cultural traditions, and resistance.
In our practices and programming, the Archive seeks to honor the political, intellectual, and aesthetic commitments central to Gloria Naylor’s writing. Gloria Naylor’s novels center Black life—and especially the relationships among Black women. We register Naylor’s trenchant critiques of academic institutions (including archives) that often marginalize, erase, and do violence to Black lives as well as her insistence on the value of knowledge that exceeds documentary records.
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We welcome your inquiries and comments about the Gloria Naylor Archive. Please email email@example.com or contact Suzanne Edwards at Drown Hall, 35 Sayre Dr., Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA 18015, firstname.lastname@example.org.