“An archive of accounts”: This Bridge Called My Back in Feminist Movement

Meredith BenjaminBarnard College
Vol. 40, No. 1 (Spring 2021), 45-68

This article reads the now-classic feminist anthology This Bridge Called My Back: Writings By Radical Women of Color (1981) in the context of the archival materials surrounding its production, reception, and post-publication circulation. The archived papers of the anthology’s editors and advisors, including Gloria Anzaldúa and Audre Lorde, as well as the files of its original publisher, Persephone Press, reveal dimen- sions of the anthology beyond the published book: from the affective labor involved in its development and editing to its re-organizations and re-embodiments in staged perfor- mances. The anthology’s attempts to create freedom for movement and the ways in which an archival approach illuminates these attempts are epitomized by a script preserved both in the records of Persephone Press and in Anzaldúa’s papers, which the essay considers in detail in its final section. Responding to calls for new narratives of feminist writing and history, this essay reads This Bridge Called My Back as a dynamic work, both the result of movement and an impetus to new forms of movement.

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]