Assistant Professor of Diasporic Youth Cultures
From the success of the Oscar-winning film Moonlight to the global popularity of hip-hop stars Chance the Rapper and Kendrick Lamar, America indulges in the cultural work that young black men and boys create to express their unique experiences at the intersections of race, youth, and masculinity in film and music. Yet, when black boys and young men are not on stage or the screen performing to entertain spectators, they are oftentimes perceived as threats and violently policed, incarcerated, and killed. This course explores how the interconnections of race, gender, youth, and geography influence performances and cultural perceptions of black masculinities in America since the twentieth century. Students will use Queer of Color and Feminist theories to analyze representations of black masculinity in literature (e.g., Kiese Laymon, Richard Wright), film, art, music, and social media. Students will also study current social science research on black masculinities in Boyhood Studies.
Defining moments in girlhood and youth like fashioning different hairstyles and clothing are oftentimes inextricably linked to turning points in the development of one's political consciousness. This course explores the ways girls and women of color theorize the development of their political consciousness through these seemingly apolitical coming of age moments in the U.S. since 1920. Students will analyze personal narratives, oral histories, fiction, and plays that document early political trajectories of well-known figures such as bell hooks, Michelle Cliff, and Janet Mock and lesser-known figures. Students will examine the political trajectories of women (e.g., Beyonce) who came of age in the public eye. Course questions include: What are defining moments in the emerging political identities of girls of color? How does becoming aware of gender, race, and class differences during youth impact the development of political identity? How have social movements influenced the political identities of girls of color?
This course explores narratives of black girlhood from the nineteenth century to our contemporary moment. Students will analyze black girlhood through a diverse collection of sources including young adult literature, street lit, personal narratives, and recent scholarship in Black Girlhood Studies. We will consider the following questions: How do the intersections of race, class, gender, and geography impact the ways we understand girlhood? How have black girls defined girlhood and the transition from black girl to black woman? How do representations of black girlhood challenge dominant conceptualizations of American childhood and young adulthood? To answer these questions, students will examine the racialization of girlhood, the criminalization of black girls, sexual literacy, youth activism, education, and black girls in social media and hip-hop culture. Some of the texts we will engage include The Coldest Winter Ever (Sister Souljah) and Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools (Monique Morris).
Each culture defines childhood according to their own values and beliefs. These definitions of childhood change over time. Since the nineteenth century, racial ideologies have shaped dominant conceptualizations of childhood in the U.S. In this course, students will examine the history of race and childhood. The guiding questions of the course include: How do racial ideologies affect the concepts of childhood, dependency, and age? How have defining historical moments in race relations such as U.S. slavery, the Brown vs. Board of Education case, and the Black Lives Matter movement influenced conceptualizations of the "American child" and "American childhood"? To answer these questions, we will engage scholarship in the History of Childhood and Youth Studies alongside representations and analyses of "American childhood" in literature and sociology. Placing history in conversation with literature and sociology is essential for exposing students to diverse interpretations of the interrelationship of race and childhood.