Join us for an in-person event celebrating Choosing Family: A Memoir of Queer Motherhood and Black Resistance by Francesca Royster. For this event, Royster will be in conversation with Michele Morano.
Please note: Pre-registration for this event is required. By pre-registering, you are verifying that you are fully vaccinated and will wear a mask throughout the entirety of the event.
A brilliant literary memoir of chosen family and chosen heritage, told against the backdrop of Chicago’s North and South Sides
As a multiracial household in Chicago’s North Side community of Rogers Park, race is at the core of Francesca T. Royster and her family's world, influencing everyday acts of parenting and the conception of what family truly means. Like Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts, this lyrical and affecting memoir focuses on a unit of three: the author; her wife Annie, who's white; and Cecilia, the Black daughter they adopt as a couple in their forties and fifties. Choosing Family chronicles this journey to motherhood while examining the messiness and complexity of adoption and parenthood from a Black, queer, and feminist perspective. Royster also explores her memories of the matriarchs of her childhood and the homes these women created in Chicago’s South Side—itself a dynamic character in the memoir—where “family” was fluid, inclusive, and not necessarily defined by marriage or other socially recognized contracts.
Calling upon the work of some of her favorite queer thinkers, including José Esteban Muñoz and Audre Lorde, Royster interweaves her experiences and memories with queer and gender theory to argue that many Black families, certainly her own, have historically had a “queer” attitude toward family: configurations that sit outside the white normative experience and are the richer for their flexibility and generosity of spirit. A powerful, genre-bending memoir of family, identity, and acceptance, Choosing Family, ultimately, is about joy—about claiming the joy that society did not intend to assign to you, or to those like you.
Francesca Royster is a native of Chicago’s South Side and a professor of English literature at DePaul University in Chicago, where she teaches classes on African American literature and culture, Shakespeare, and gender and queer theory. She is the author of Black Country Music, Becoming Cleopatra: The Shifting Image of an Icon and Sounding Like a No-No: Queer Sounds and Eccentric Acts in the Post-Soul Era. She received her PhD in English literature from University of California, Berkeley. Her essays have appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Chicago Literati, and Feminist Studies, among others. She lives in Chicago.
Michele Morano is the author of the essay collection Like Love as well as the travel memoir Grammar Lessons: Translating a Life in Spain. Her essays and short fiction have appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Best American Essays, Fourth Genre, Ninth Letter, and Twenty-First-Century Essays by Women. She lives in Chicago, where she chairs the English Department at DePaul University.
Image Description: A light teal colored banner with a faint pattern of open books. The banner features a small cover image for CHOOSING FAMILY next to a large photo of the author, Francesca Royster. The text reads, "Women & Children First Presents Francesca Royster in conversation with Michele Morano, Thursday February 9th, 7pm, masks and proof of vaccination required."