Mary Helen Washington

Mary Helen Washington

Mary Helen Washington


On April 20, 1990, Marygrove College hosted a former Detroiter, Mary Helen Washington, at the second Contemporary American Author Lecture Series event. She spoke about "the need for women writers to resist the romance narrative, to invent new lives for women that are not dependent on the traditional marriage script." 

Born January 21, 1941, in Cleveland, Ohio, Dr. Washington received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Notre Dame College in 1962, followed by her Masters Degree and her Ph.D. from the University of Detroit. She taught in the Cleveland Public Schools, St. John's College, the University of Detroit, where she was Assistant Professor of English and Director of Black Studies, and at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Currently she is Professor of English at the University of Maryland. She is the recipient of The Richard Wright Award for Literary Criticism from Black World in 1974.

Washington is editor of Black-Eyed Susans: Classic Stories By and About Black Women (1975), Midnight Birds: Stories by Contemporary Black Women Writers (1980), Invented Lives: Narratives of Black Women 1860-1960 (1987), and Memory of Kin: Stories About Family by Black Writers (1991). She edited an introduction to The Zora Neale Hurston Reader, and has written an afterword to the Feminist Press edition of Paule Marshall’s Brown Girl, Brownstone, and essays on Gwendolyn Brooks and Zora Neale Hurston in the anthologies Black Literature and Literary Theory, edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Of Our Spiritual Striving: New Developments in Black Literary Criticism, edited by Richard Yarborough. She has also written on the images of black women in Essence and Ms., among many other journals.

Contemporary American Author Lecture Series (CAALS)

Contemporary American Authors Lecture Series (CAALS)

The CAALS brings a nationally-known author to Marygrove College each year for a public lecture and a seminar with students.

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