The Lemonade Syllabus Is Here to Help

An Overview of the Social Science Highlights

Album cover of Beyonce's Lemonade. Read about The Lemonade Syllabus here.

If you loved Beconcé's "Lemonade" then you'll love The Lemonade Syllabus, compiled by Candice Marie Benbow, a doctoral student in Religion and Society at Princeton Theological Seminary. Benbow also has a Master of Arts in sociology, which shines through in The Lemonade Syllabus in the robust presence of authors from within the social sciences.

Many commentators have noted that Lemonade resonates with themes of race and racism, the politics of gender and sexuality, and feminism. Benbow worked with dozens of contributors to compile a syllabus that draws from a vast array of scholarship and art to provide fans of Lemonade with deeper insights to these themes and why they are present in Beyoncé's album.

The Lemonade Syllabus is organized categorically, and includes fiction and literature; non-fiction and autobiography; Black Feminist Studies; English and Critical Theory; historical and Cultural Studies; inspirational and self-care; religion and Womanist Theology; youth; poetry and photography; music; and theater, film, and documentary.

Let's take a look at some of the authors and texts that represent the social sciences.

Patricia Hill Collins

Dr. Patricia Hill Collins, Distinguished University Professor in Sociology at the University of Maryland and former president of the American Sociological Association, is arguably the most well-read and beloved writer within the cannon of Black Feminist Studies. Most consider Collins to be the pioneer of this area of research and writing, in large part for popularizing and expanding the concept of intersectionality initially created by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw. Given this, it's no surprise that three of Collins's books have made it onto The Lemonade Syllabus. These include Black Feminist Thought, in which she offers a robust theoretical treatment of intersectionality; Black Sexual Politics, which draws on history and contemporary examples to examine the particular intersecting relationships between racism and heterosexism; and Fighting Words, about the experiences of black women as they fight injustice throughout society.

bell hooks

Feminist theorist bell hooks has emerged as a critical voice against what she views as Beyoncé's appropriation of feminism for profit, but that doesn't mean that there isn't resonance between her writing and the themes of Lemonade, which focuses specifically on the struggles of black women. Contributors to the syllabus included six of hooks's books throughout it: Ain't I a WomanAll About LoveBone BlackCommunionSisters of the Yam, and The Will to Change

Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde--feminist, poet, and civil rights activist--is known within the social sciences for offering shrewd critiques of the failure of feminists to account for the experience of black women, and especially queer black women. Lorde made waves within feminist studies when she delivered a searing speech at a conference in which she called out the organizers for failing to include black women among their speakers, excepting herself (see "The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House). Sister Outsider, included on the syllabus, is a collection of works on the many forms of oppression Lorde experienced in her life, and on the importance of embracing and learning from difference at a community level.

Dorothy Roberts

In Killing the Black Body, Dorothy Roberts draws from sociology, critical race studies, and the feminist perspective to demonstrate the particular injustices that have been visited upon black women in the U.S. for centuries. The text focuses on how racialized social control is enacted at the level of the body, with particular focus on the injust effects of welfare reform and its relationship to sterilization and forced population control.

Angela Y. Davis

Angela Davis is best known as a Civil Rights activist and former member of the Communist Party USA, but perhaps less well-known are her important scholarly contributions she made as a professor at the University of California-Santa Cruz in the History of Consciousness. Included on The Lemonade Syllabus are four of Davis's books: Blues Legacies and Black FeminismsWomen, Race and ClassFreedom Is a Constant Struggle; and The Meaning of Freedom and Other Difficult Dialogues. Lovers of Lemonade are sure to enjoy Davis's thoughtful, critical writings on these topics.