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In 'Beyond Respectability,' A History of Black Women As Public Intellectuals

Brittney C. Cooper's history of black women thinkers traces decades of struggle against racism and misogyny. It's a crucial cultural study and a dense, serious read that rewards close attention.
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You know what a performative utterance is, even if you've never heard the term before. "I now pronounce you" at a wedding is one; "I christen this ship" is another. Performative utterance carries a particular power — it's the thing you want to make true.

And performative utterance is at the heart of Brittney C. Cooper's Beyond Respectability, which profiles several black feminist intellectuals who not only fought against the idea of "respectability" as a prerequisite for being

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