Making headlines when it was launched in 2015, Omise’eke Tinsley’s undergraduate course “Beyoncé Feminism, Rihanna Womanism” has inspired students from all walks of life. In Beyoncé in Formation, Tinsley now takes her rich observations beyond the classroom, using the blockbuster album and video Lemonade as a soundtrack for vital new-millennium narratives.
Woven with candid observations about her life as a feminist scholar of African studies and a cisgender femme married to a trans spouse, Tinsley’s “Femme-onade” mixtape explores myriad facets of black women’s sexuality and gender. Turning to Beyoncé’s “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” Tinsley assesses black feminist critiques of marriage and then considers the models of motherhood offered in “Daddy Lessons,” interspersing these passages with memories from Tinsley’s multiracial family history. Her chapters on nontraditional bonds culminate in a discussion of contemporary LGBT politics through the lens of the internet-breaking video “Formation,” underscoring why Beyoncé’s black femme-inism isn’t only for ciswomen. From pleasure politics and the struggle for black women’s reproductive justice to the subtext of blues and country music traditions, the landscape in this tour is populated by activists and artists (including Loretta Lynn) and infused with vibrant interpretations of Queen Bey’s provocative, peerless imagery and lyrics.
In the tradition of Roxanne Gay’s Bad Feminist and Jill Lepore’s best-selling cultural histories, Beyoncé in Formation is the work of a daring intellectual who is poised to spark a new conversation about freedom and identity in America.
"A compelling and timely read about the many ways Beyonc√© impacts not only American popular culture but the author's own particular life. Omise‚Äôeke Natasha Tinsley delivers a book that will appeal to lay listeners and members of the Beyhive alike."
Regina N. Bradley, author of Boondock Kollage: Stories from the Hip Hop South
"An incisive, spiraling celebration of Southern black women."
"You'll come away from each chapter with a new appreciation of what Beyonc√© has meant to women, particularly black women, across the country."
"Sure to appeal to scholars and pop-culture enthusiasts alike, this provocative book works to blur the lines between straight and gay black feminism. . . Lively and intelligent reading."
"[Translates] the visual and audio to another plane entirely, and will undoubtedly inspire much rewatching and relistening."
"Tinsley...brings tremendous gusto to her critique of Beyonce's 2016 album Lemonade."
Publisher's Weekly Holiday Gift Guide 2018
"Tinsley's‚Ä¶critical analysis of black women's sexuality, gender, and identity through the gaze of Beyonc√© and the Lemonade album is especially important as her queer black perspective dissects Queen Bey in a way that only a black women-loving black woman could."
The Feminist Press
"[Tinsley's] approach‚Ä¶keeps the text accessible to music fans while underlining the book's central thesis: that Lemonade is one of the great black feminist works of this century and it deserves an exalted place in the canon of women's studies."
"Part memoir, part pop-culture scholarship, this slim, engaging book uses Beyonc√© as a springboard for wide-ranging ruminations on sexuality, motherhood, and activism, among other big ideas."
"Beyonc√© in Formation is a remarkably pleasing book. It takes the reader by the hand and, skipping delightedly, leads her into a universe of happy, sexy, loving fandom, where Beyonc√© is queen and all are welcome at worship."
"With all the headlines it generated upon its release, it's hard to believe there's anything left to say about Beyonc√©'s Lemonade. Yet, Omise'eke Natasha Tinsley‚Ä¶manages to find new meaning in this cultural analysis of the already iconic record."
"An insightful cultural reading of the performer combined with memoir."
The Globe and Mail