SHU Celebrates Women’s History Month with the West Indian Student Organization (WISO)

In honor of Women’s History Month, the Walsh Library partnered with SHU’s West Indian Student Organization (WISO) for the second iteration of WISO Reads! We are excited to highlight Caribbean authors and provide an associated list of reading recommendations. A large and hearty thank you to Ijah Penn, the treasurer of SHU WISO for the extensive work she put into compiling these resources!

    1. Zelma “Zee” Edgell is Belizean born American author. She was born in Belize City, British Honduras now known as Belize. Edgell studied journalism at the school of modern languages at the Polytechnic of Central London and continued her education at the University of the West Indies. From 1981 to 1987, she served at the first Director of the Women’s Bureau in the Government of Belize and later became the Director of the Department of Women’s Affairs. She spent several years living in places such as Jamaica, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Somalia working with Peace Corps to provide aid to such countries. She passed away on December 20th, 2020.

Recommended Read:

        • Edgell’s debut Novel, Beka Lamb (1982), showcases the early years of the nationalist movement in British Honduras (Belize) from the eyes of a growing and maturing teenage girl named Beka Lamb. The book deals with and discusses social insecurity, racial prejudice, educational pressures, societal pressures, poverty, and the influence of conservatism on womanhood and freedom. The novel also discusses the struggle of being a woman in Belize due to the result of the social, governmental, and societal struggles Belize had place upon them. Edgell goes into detail focusing on the process of womanhood in the development from childhood to young adulthood.
    1. Erna Brodber is a Jamaican writer, sociologist, and social activist. She has established herself as a major voice in Caribbean literature through her narratives drawing upon the experience of the oral and scribal traditions of the African diaspora, mixing modernist literature with folk tales. Brodber was born in Saint Mary Parish, Jamaica. She received her BA from University College of the West Indies, followed by earning her MSc and PhD with a predoctoral fellowship in psychiatric anthropology. Brodber became a sociology lecturer and researcher at the Institute for Social and Economic Research in the University of the West Indies where she collected several oral histories of the elders in rural Jamaica. She challenges western ways of ordering the world and resurrects myth and tradition in order to provide those rehabilitation form the lost of ancestry and psychic damage due to slavery and colonialism.

Recommended Reads:

        • Myal (1988) is a novel that explores the link between people of two areas of the black diaspora, the Afro-Americans, and the Afro-Jamaicans. The story is of a women’s cultural and spiritual struggle in colonial Jamaica.
        • Jane and Louisa Will Soon Come Home (1980) is a book that reflects an internal sociological perspective that takes readers on a journey. Broder breaks down the life of Nellie, the main narrator, into vignettes that explore the complexity of Nellie’s childhood, sexuality, and search for identity under the circumstances of Jamaica and colonial legacy.
        • Nothing’s Mat (2014) is a story told by a young black British teenager as she navigates life and the topic of family history and comments on anthropological methodology as well as the African system of thought.
    1. Paule Marshall is an American-born novelist with emigrant parents from Barbados. She is very well known for writing very telling narratives of Caribbean communities within America. After going to school to be a social worker, she changed course, majored in English Literature, and then began to write. She is very well known for encouraging Black identity from an Afrocentric perspective, detailing a coming-of-age motif in many of her works.

Recommended Read:

        • Brown Girl, Brownstone (1959) is a novel about a young girl named Selina Boyce growing up in a small black immigrant community where she is caught between her mother who wants to conform to the ideals of new home and participate in making the American Dream into a reality while her father longs to go back to the security of his home in Barbados. The themes this story discusses are travel, migration, and the need to find belonging or wholeness within a community.
    1. Nicole Dennis-Benn is a Jamaican novelist best known for her debut novel, Here Comes the Sun, which earned the title “Best Book of the Year” by the New York Times. Dennis-Benn was born and raised in Kingston Jamaica. She is a graduate of Cornell University and holds a Master of Public Heath from the University of Michigan and an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Dennis-Benn is a founder of the Stuyvesant Writing Workshop. Dennis-Benn in her novel discusses the conservatism of Jamaica as her characters struggle with their forbidden love for another of the same sex, this is relative to her life as Dennis-Been identifies as queer and is currently married with her wife in Brooklyn, New York.

Recommended Reads:

        • Here Comes the Sun (2017), is a novel that explores the world hidden among the pristine beaches of Jamaica. A young girl by the name of Margot, hustles by trading to send her sister Thandi to school. The story talks about forbidden love, the violent social consequence of same-sex love within a small community, the very real and pressing struggles of poverty and the complexities both social and economic, of commercial development in the Caribbean.
        • Patsy (2019) is a novel that takes a look at motherhood, immigration, and sacrifice. It is a story of a woman and her two daughters fighting for survival in their drought-stricken Jamaican town as it takes a powerful look at issues of poverty, colorism, and homophobia in Jamaica.
    1. Oonya Kempadoo is a novelist born in the United Kingdom from parents of Guyanese lineage though she grew up in Guyana. Kempadoo works freelance as a researcher and consultant in the arts, private sector with youth and international organization focusing on social development. She is also the co-founder of the Grenada Community Library and Resource Center and served as a National juror for the Scholastic Arts & Writing Awards 2019-2020.

Recommended Reads:

        • Buxton Spice (1997) is a story of a young girl’s growing sexual awareness and sexuality in the multi-racial society of Guyana disintegrating under a corrupt government.
        • Tide Running (2001) is set in Tobago as an account of young couple as it raises question about relationships, wealth, responsibility, racial, cultural and class differences. Additionally, the novel takes a look at the predicament of a young society in Tobago that looks to America for fantasies and heroes and not reality.
      1. Esmeralda Santiago is a prominent Puerto Rican author in the United States. She writes memoirs that encapsulate her own assimilation into this American culture and way of life, which allow others with similar experiences to relate and feel represented. Her writing showcases themes of self-discovery, immigration, working-class immigrant experience and biculturalism.

Recommended Read:

        • When I was Puerto Rican (1994) is a memoir about author Esmerelda Santiago and her story. She speaks of her journey during her early years in Puerto Rico, her travels to New York and many highlights along the way, including her receiving high honors at Harvard. This work emphasizes Santiago’s experience with assimilating in order to feel represented, both as a woman and as one who migrated from another country trying to find her identity in a sea of adversity.

Please continue to visit our blog for more instances of WISO Reads and other reading recommendations.

To get involved with SHU WISO or learn more about their organization, follow their Instagram page: shu_wiso

Follow the hashtags #caribbeanreads #WISOReads

Women’s History Month – The Period Movement @ SHU

This Women’s History Month, Seton Hall University Libraries is excited to work with The Period Movement @ SHU to highlight items in our collection that intersect with their mission to end period poverty and stigmas around menstruation.

Their collection can be found at https://library.shu.edu/2021dislays/whm

Interested in reading these items? The items in this book display are mostly eBooks which can be read anywhere, the physical items can be placed on hold.

Want to learn more about this group or join them?

The Period Movement @ SHU fights to end period poverty and stigmas through service, education, and advocacy. We aim to serve menstruators in the populated communities around us, especially those who are not fortunate enough to have access to sanitary products. We recognize that menstruation is a burden to many, causing financial strains as well as reproductive health problems that are not widely taught in school. Along with these burdens, there are many cultural and societal stigmas that are not widely acknowledged and instead kept behind closed doors. Every menstruator should feel encouraged to discuss their personal experiences with the world, slowly changing the taboo mentality that society today holds towards reproductive health. In order to normalize open conversation about menstruation, we aim to use our chapter to encourage discussion in our own community, starting right here on campus. Our club is about serving the communities around us, including women and students in cities such as South Orange, Newark, and even New York City.

In order to get involved, please contact Period Movement: