While others were combing through Lemonade for clues about the marriage of Beyoncé Knowles and Jay Z, writer and scholar Candice Marie Benbow took a more academically rigorous approach to the 46-minute visual album. Lemonade touches on so many issues of sexual and racial politics that it provides an ideal, accessible gateway into a whole world of literature. With that in mind, Benbow started curating a reading list to accompany the album, using the hashtag #LemonadeSyllabus to garner suggestions through Instagram and Twitter. Benbow’s own suggestions include the novel and film versions of Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, detailing a Southern woman’s several marriages.

Social media heeded the call, and soon other titles were being offered up as additions to the ever-expanding list. A free, downloadable version of the syllabus, which Benbow describes as “robust” but “not complete,” has been made available through Diaspora Hypertext. “After Lemonade aired,” Benbow writes in her introduction, “sisters began to seek resources that would help them unpack the rich Black feminist and womanist themes that permeate the visual album.” In that spirit, the syllabus contains sections devoted to fiction (including titles by Hurston, plus Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, and others), nonfiction (including Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings), as well as volumes on feminism, history, religion, and critical theory. There is a list of musical recommendations as well, and fans of Lemonade are pointed toward releases by Lauryn Hill, India.Arie, Nina Simone, and others. One high-profile release by Beyoncé has thus shed light on dozens of other works.

[via The Daily Dot]