© 2012

Sapphire’s Literary Breakthrough

Erotic Literacies, Feminist Pedagogies, Environmental Justice Perspectives

  • Editors
  • Elizabeth McNeil
  • Neal A. Lester
  • DoVeanna S. Fulton
  • Lynette D. Myles

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. Introduction: PUSHing Boundaries, PUSHing Art

    1. Elizabeth McNeil, Neal A. Lester, DoVeanna S. Fulton, Lynette D. Myles
      Pages 1-10
  3. Transformational Representations

  4. Body and Place

  5. Pedagogy and the Academy

  6. Engaging the Work, Engaging the Writer

  7. Back Matter
    Pages 251-264

About this book


The first collection focused on the writing of provocative author and performance artist Sapphire, including her groundbreaking novel PUSH that has since become the Academy-award-winning film Precious.


America Narrative novel

About the authors

DoVeanna S. Fulton is Chair and Associate Professor of the Department of Gender and Race Studies at the University of Alabama.

Bibliographic information


"This volume presents many essays for addressing a range of themes relevant to African American and feminist literatures and is a valuable addition to any collection of young adult or adult literary criticisms." - Journal of American Culture

"As a first-of-its kind, groundbreaking critical treatment of Sapphire's prose and poetry, Sapphire's Literary Breakthrough offers a refreshing look at the nuances and contributions of a writer whose most known for the novel (named Push)-turned-film Precious. Readers are drawn so deeply into dialogue with Sapphire's Push that it will leave them both exhilarated and compelled to buy Sapphire's works and read each one. To say this is simply a celebration of Sapphire or Push would not capture the value of this volume or its emphatic insistence on the ubiquity of an underlying feminist pedagogy; this is a rich set of essays, which analyzes the contours of Sapphire's works, and lay bare the fragility of Black lives within the context of a sociopolitical environment driven by a multifaceted state apparatus. No matter whether it is welfare, sexual violence, literacy, civic displacement, or psychological and emotional fragmentation, each essay candidly invites you into a world that is unmistakably complex and unforgettably real, but reminds you of a social justice imperative." -Ronald L. Jackson II, author of Masculinity in the Black Imagination and Scripting the Black Masculine Body in Popular Media

'This collection of essays on PUSH ranges from the most nuanced treatment of critical issues to the intricacies of classroom dynamics in teaching a challenging, controversial, and provocative text . . . While these essays are assuredly rooted in solid scholarship, they are equally rooted in loving appreciation for a groundbreaking artist who is finally receiving the scholarly attention that her unique works warrant.' - Trudier Harris, Professor of English, The University of Alabama, and J. Carlyle Sitterson Professor of English Emerita, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"A welcome addition to African American literary criticism . . . This volume raises important issues relevant to the sociocultural and historical contexts of African Americans that need to be examined, critiqued, and healed." - Sonja L. Lanehart, Brackenridge Endowed Chair in Literature and the Humanities, Department of English, University of Texas at San Antonio