Jervette Ward’s edited collection 'Real Sister' now available from Rutgers University Press

by Michelle Saport  |   

Dr. Jervette R. Ward's edited collection, Real Sister: Stereotypes, Respectability, and Black Women in Reality TV, was recently released by Rutgers University Press. The book is available from the UAA Campus Bookstore, Rutgers UP website and Amazon.

From "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" to "Flavor of Love," reality shows with predominantly black casts have often been criticized for their negative representation of African-American women as loud, angry and violent. Yet even as these programs appear to be rehashing old stereotypes of black women, the critiques of them are arguably problematic in their own way, as the notion of "respectability" has historically been used to police black women's behaviors.

The first book of scholarship devoted to the issue of how black women are depicted on reality television, Real Sister offers an even-handed consideration of the genre. The book's ten contributors-female scholars from a variety of disciplines-provide a wide range of perspectives, while considering everything from "Basketball Wives" to "Say Yes to the Dress." As regular viewers of reality television, these scholars are able to note ways in which the genre presents positive images of black womanhood, even as they catalog a litany of stereotypes about race, class and gender that it tends to reinforce.

Rather than simply dismissing reality television as "trash," this collection takes the genre seriously, as an important touchstone in ongoing cultural debates about what constitutes "trashiness" and "respectability." Written in an accessible style that will appeal to reality TV fans both inside and outside of academia, Real Sister thus seeks to inspire a more nuanced, thoughtful conversation about the genre's representations and their effects on the black community.

Praise for Real Sister "Real Sister makes a significant contribution to existing scholarship by establishing links between depictions of black women in television and a longer-running history of representations of black women in literature and popular culture tropes." -Leigh H. Edwards, author of The Triumph of Reality TV: The Revolution in American Television

"A frank meditation on the images of black women in television's most dominant form, Real Sister exposes the ways in which the ambivalent pleasures derived from reality TV's obligatory train wrecks implicate black women as both victim and entrepreneur." -Darnell Hunt, editor of Channeling Blackness

Ward will be speaking on Real Sister at several universities and colleges over the next few months.

Oct. 20 - Western Washington University Oct. 22-23 - University of Montana Oct. 28 - UAA Campus Bookstore Nov. 6 - Portland Community College Nov. 11-12 - University of Texas at San Antonio

The book is available from the UAA Campus Bookstore, Rutgers UP website and Amazon.

Creative Commons License "Jervette Ward’s edited collection 'Real Sister' now available from Rutgers University Press" is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
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