To Russia With Love: Dorothy West’s Adventures in Moscow and Other Transatlantic Challenges to the Color Line

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University Club, Room 212
@ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Black and white portrait of Cherene Sherrard-Johnson with shoulder-length hair, earrings, and a suit jacket

Monday Seminar:

Cherene Sherrard-Johnson

Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity Fellow (2009-2010)

English, UW-Madison


This paper draws on a chapter in a book-in-progress, Dorothy West’s Paradise: A Biography of Class and Color. It places West’s personal reflections and publications about her Soviet sojourn in conversation with Nancy Prince’s 1825 narrative of her life in imperial Russia and Andrea Lee’s cold war memoir Russian Journal (1979). Considering West’s experiences and writings within a nearly 200-year literary tradition of black women’s travel writing, the paper explores Russia as a privileged, utopic site of personal and political transformation in the African Diaspora.


Cherene Sherrard-Johnson is Associate Professor of English at UW-Madison. She is the author of Portraits of the New Negro Woman: Visual and Literary Culture in the Harlem Renaissance (Rutgers UP, 2007) and the editor of a new edition of Jessie Fauset’s last novel: Comedy: American Style (Rutgers UP, 2009). She is a Race, Ethnicity and Indigeneity Fellow at the Institute for Research in the Humanities where she is working on a biography of Harlem Renaissance writer Dorothy West.