Writing Black Women’s Mythology: A Conversation with Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton


  • Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton
  • Gulsin Ciftci
  • Silvia Schultermandl




Juneteenth, African American literature, interview


In commemoration of the proclamation of the end of slavery in the United States on June 19, 1865, writer, activist, and performer Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton read from and discussed her memoir Black Chameleon at the 2023 Juneteenth Dialogue hosted by the Chair of American Studies at the University of Münster. The Juneteenth Dialogues are designed to enter into a discussion about systemic racism in the United States and to explore literary responses to the vulnerabilities of Black lives and strategies of (literary) resistance. With Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton, the focus of conversation was on the importance of mythology for Black women in the United States, the potentials of autobiographical writing, and the importance of literature today. Mythology, in Mouton’s work, builds on what Audre Lorde called “biomythography” to combine personal experience, popular culture, history, and received narratives that are part of ancient storytelling traditions. In Mouton’s hands, this becomes a technique for getting closer to some of the complex truths of a past grounded in enslavement. Mouton’s reading from Black Chameleon and the panel discussion that followed are the basis of this interview. It has been edited for clarity. We want to thank the audience of the 2023 Juneteenth Dialogues as well as Dr. Ortwin Lämke and Frederik Köpke from the Studiobühne for providing the space for this event.

Author Biographies

Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton

Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton is an internationally-known writer, librettist, educator, activist, performer, and Poet Laureate Emerita of Houston, Texas. Formerly ranked the #2 Best Female Performance Poet in the World by Poetry Slam Inc., her recent poetry collection, Newsworthy, garnered her a Pushcart nomination and was named a finalist for the 2019 Writer’s League of Texas Book Award and received an honorable mention for the Summerlee Book Prize.​ Her most recent choreopoem, PLUMSHUGA: The rise of Lauren Anderson, debuted at Stages Houston Oct 13, 2023 and was recently mentioned in the New York Times Fall preview. A forthcoming opera, She Who Dared, composed by Jasmine Barnes, was recently workshopped by the American Lyric theater in May 2023.

Gulsin Ciftci

Gulsin Ciftci is a research associate and doctoral candidate at the University of Münster, Germany, where she teaches American studies. She serves as an associate editor for New American Studies Journal: A Forum, and she is the co-editor of Current Objectives of Postgraduate American Studies and Textpraxis: Digital Journal for Philology. She holds an M.A. in North American Studies and English Philology from the University of Göttingen, where she previously taught literary and cultural studies and worked as a research assistant. Her research interests include theories of reading, theory of the novel, literary criticism, affect and public feeling, continental philosophy, as well as contemporary poetry and digital literatures.

Silvia Schultermandl

Silvia Schultermandl is Chair of American Studies at the University of Münster. She is the author of Transnational Matrilineage: Mother-Daughter Conflicts in Asian American Literature (2009) and Ambivalent Transnational Belonging in American Literature (2021) and co-editor of eight collections of essays which explore various themes in transnational studies, American literature and culture, as well as family and kinship studies. Her articles have appeared in various journals including Meridians, Atlantic Studies, Interactions, Journal of Transnational American Studies, and Journal of American Culture. Her areas of interest include affect theory, literary theory, critical race theory, queer theory, aesthetics, and transnational feminism. She is currently developing the Palgrave Series in Kinship, Representation, and Difference and is embarking on a new project on kinship and archives.



2023-09-15 — Updated on 2023-10-19


How to Cite

Mouton, D. D., G. Ciftci, and S. Schultermandl. “Writing Black Women’s Mythology: A Conversation With Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton”. 2023. New American Studies Journal: A Forum, vol. 74, Oct. 2023, https://doi.org/10.18422/74-1400.