Appointed As

Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


ACLS Emerging Voices Fellowships program


The Ohio State University

PhD Field of Study

PhD, English and African American Literature, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dissertation Abstract

"Homeplaces and Spaces: Black and Brown Feminists and Girlhood Geographies of Agency"

During the late 20th and early 21st centuries, noted Chicana feminists such Gloria Anzaldúa and Pat Mora, as well as Black feminists like Octavia Butler and bell hooks frequently turned to children’s literature or youth-centric literature as a means to confront social injustice in American society. My dissertation considers this literary investment in Black and Brown girlhoods by examining feminist-authored children’s picture books, middle-grade and youth-centric literary novels featuring girl protagonists. Specifically, I examine how Black, Chicana and Mexican American feminist writers consistently render girlhood in relation to geography. Not limiting my investigation to geopolitical bodies, I pay particular attention to everyday spatial terrains such as the girls’ homes, schools, community centers, and playgrounds. These seemingly ordinary spaces of girlhood merge public and private and constitute key sites for nation building. They also provide fertile ground for the development of Black and Brown girl spatial citizenship: girl-centered, critical vantage points from which readers may view operations of power and privilege. Building upon work in feminist geography and adding age to theorizations of intersectionality and oppositional consciousness, I trace how this girlhood-geography alignment reframes the girls’ social and political marginalization to reveal the situated, embodied knowledge and liberating worldviews produced within these spatial contexts. By attending to the landscapes of literary girlhoods, my dissertation ultimately argues that these girl-centered narratives constitute a neglected archive of feminist thought, a creative yet compelling vehicle through which Black, Chicana and Mexican American feminist authors imagine community, resist inequity, and theorize broader social change.