Discussion Questions for 4/7: Crenshaw, “Mapping the Margins”

This is our final non-literary reading for this course, and originally my intent was to have it serve as a bridge between To Kill a Mockingbird and a Toni Morrison novel – in other words, between a novel that deals with racism against Black men on the one hand and (the possibility of) sexual violence against white women on the other – and a novel in which oppression and violence against Black women are placed front and center. I am still firm in my conviction that cutting material was the best decision for our class, given the circumstances, but I mourn not being able to end with a literary text that might illuminate and complicate Crenshaw’s ideas. If reading through Crenshaw’s essay prompts you to draw connections to literary works you’re familiar with that aren’t on the syllabus, I invite you to discuss them on the blog.

That said, I’m excited to hear your thoughts on reading this essay on the heels of Mockingbird. How might Crenshaw inform our reading of this novel’s comment on race, gender, class, and the law? Are there passages in Crenshaw’s essay that strike you as especially resonant with Lee’s novel? Are there moments in the novel that spring to mind for you as you read this essay?

Crenshaw and Harris’s essays both appear in the same anthology on Critical Race Theory. I invite you to think about points of comparison and contrast between these two pieces.