Venetria Patton to speak at Lock Haven

Lock Haven University’s Women and Gender Studies program, in collaboration with the Office of Human and Cultural Diversity and the Ethics center, invites you to attend a talk and presentation by Dr. Venetria Patton, the director of African American studies and Research Center at Purdue University, at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Hamblin Hall of Flags on LHU campus.

Patton’s talk is entitled “Baby Mamas, Beloved, and Claiming True Motherhood.”

Alluding to the media reference to First Lady Michelle Obama as a “Baby Mama,” Patton will address the historical and representational contexts of African American motherhood. One would never imagine such a term being used to describe first ladies Hillary Clinton or Laura Bush – it only becomes possible for Michelle Obama because of the legacy of slavery and its related notion that black women are “natally dead” or disconnected from the progeny of their wombs.

Because female slaves were seen as akin to animals, they were not accorded the gendered role of mothers. However, black women writers such as, Toni Morrison and Phyllis Alesia Perry, refuse to accept this stereotype as they claim motherhood for their female characters and depict extensive kinship systems, featuring the living and the dead. Patton will discuss how these neo-slave narratives revise the legacy of slavery by rejecting the notion of partus sequitur ventrem-the child follows the condition of the mother-and instead reclaim their kin.

Dr. Patton is the author of “Women in Chains: The Legacy of Slavery in Black Women’s Fiction” (SUNY, 2000), the co-editor of “Double-Take: A Revisionist Harlem Renaissance Anthology” (Rutgers, 2001), and editor of “Background Readings for Teachers of American Literature” (Bedford/ St. Martin’s, 2006). She recently published “The Grasp That Reaches Beyond the Grave: Ancestral Call in Black Women’s Texts” (SUNY, 2013), and is currently editing a second edition of “Background Readings for Teachers of American Literature.”

Dr. Patton’s essays have appeared in Black Studies and Women’s Studies journals as well as the essay collections, “Postcolonial Perspectives on Women Writers from Africa, the Caribbean, and the US” (Africa World Press, 2003), “White Scholars/ African American Texts” (Rutgers UP, 2005), and Imagining the Black Female Body: Reconciling Image in Print and Visual Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010). She is also the editor of the fall 2011 issue of “Black Women, Gender and Families” and co-editor of the spring 2004 issue of “The Black Scholar.” Patton is Chair of the Purdue Black Caucus of Faculty and Staff and current board member of the Hanna Community Center and the National Council for Black Studies.

Patton will also visit with student groups and faculty and take part in two classes while she is here. Dr. Patton’s visit is sponsored by the Women and Gender Studies program, and co-sponsored by the Office of Human and Cultural Diversity, and the Ethics Center.

For more information, contact Dr. Gayatri Devi, Coordinator, Women and Gender Studies at

The event is free and open to the public.