Childhood & Youth Studies: Tammy-Cherelle Owens, May 1, 2014
Making Black Girls Visible: Reconstructing Black Girlhood in the United States, 1861-1963
Tammy Cherelle Owens, Instructor, Writing Studies
Owens’ project centers black girls as historical actors, and their girlhoods as sites of historical knowledge of black female personhood, intellectualism, and political agency. Moreover, she maps black women and girls’ efforts to engender materially and politically substantial black girl-subjectivities and girlhoods through memory, discourse, political organizing, literature, and music during pivotal moments in black history.
How is black girlhood imagined in literary and visual culture? How do black women in terms of embodied agency, subaltern knowledge, material and psychic capacities, and political insights render black girlhood? How might black girls, adolescents, and black women have strategically negotiated the legibility of black girls and their girlhoods at particular historical moments in response to racial and gender ideologies? What factors motivated black women and girls to write about their girlhoods at different historical periods?
Using a queer of color methodology to examine cultural work—biographies, visual images, music, children’s literature, and archival materials—produced in the U.S. between 1861-1963, Owens will illuminate the importance of investigating black girlhood as a foundational period in the development of queer black female epistemologies, ontologies, and modes of personal and political survival.