This essay explores the sexual politics of women's blues of the 1920s and compares it to black women's fiction during the same period. Carby argues that classic blues singers Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, and Ethel Waters had more latitude to challenge patriarchy and expose the contradictions of black women's experience than black women writers-though the latter's work has been more thoroughly investigated for insights into these issues.
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African American studies, Bessie Smith, blues, Ethel Waters, feminism, gender, Harlem Renaissance, Jessie Fauset, literature, Ma Rainey, Nella Larsen, sexuality, vocalists, women, Zora Neale Hurston