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Beyoncé’s dense, complex visual album Lemonade practically requires an academic reading to unpack the undercurrents of black womanhood, racism, sexism, monogamy, and more. Luckily, the Internet’s academics are coming together to provide just that.
Candice Benbow, a writer and doctoral student in religion and society at Princeton Theological Seminary, has compiled the #LemonadeSyllabus for Diaspora Hypertext, after issuing a call, via the hashtag, for black women to share “the works of art, history, and literature that came to mind or informed their reading of the visual album.”
A photo posted by Candice Marie Benbow (@candicebenbow) on
On Friday, Benbow released a copy of all the compiled texts, ranging from fiction works by Toni Morrison and Alice Walker, poetry by Maya Angelou and Nikki Giovanni, and music from artists like India.Arie and Nina Simone. The downloadable document also includes room for readers to keep their own notes on the sources.
Benbow isn’t the only one to call for an academic dive into Lemonade. Barnes & Noble published a Lemonade reading list, which includes Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth by Warsan Shire, the poet Beyoncé quotes throughout Lemonade, and a history of the Illuminati. The Maryland Institute College of Art also provides a guide to all the cultural references made in Lemonade, including Pipiloti Rist’s Ever Is Over All, a 1997 work of video art that inspired the visual segment to “Hold Up.”
Obviously, there are many ways to read into Lemonade, but we’d love it if a professor could tell us how Beyonce being a clone fits into all of this.
Jaya Saxena is a lifestyle writer and editor whose work focuses primarily on women's issues and web culture. Her writing has appeared in GQ, ELLE, the Toast, the New Yorker, Tthe Hairpin, BuzzFeed, Racked, Eater, Catapult, and others. She is the co-author of 'Dad Magazine,' the author of 'The Book Of Lost Recipes,' and the co-author of 'Basic Witches.'