WGS 4500 (girlhood)

Course Name: 
The Global History of Black Girlhood

The Black Girls Matter movement has behind it a long history of advocacy by and for black girls.  In recent years, scholars working on the history of black girls in the US, Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa have created a vibrant new field of black girl studies.  Combining insights from black feminism and the history of childhood, these scholars have centered black girls’ experience as a means of reframing our understanding of citizenship, labor, and creativity.  This course will introduce you to this exciting new field by reading foundational texts by historians as well as primary sources authored by black girls.  We will employ a broad chronological scope, beginning with the centrality of girls in the Atlantic slave trade of the seventeenth century and ending with black girls’ activism today.  Taking a global perspective, we will explore the commonalities and differences among black girls’ experiences in various regions.  Themes to be explored include: freedom, slavery, and incarceration; productive and reproductive work; innocence, sexuality, and respectability; spirituality and creativity; citizenship and rights.  Throughout, we will seek to understand both how black girls have defined themselves and how other people have sought to represent, protect, or exploit them. 
This will be a discussion based, writing intensive class.  You will be asked to engage with a range of sources including historical monographs, black feminist theory, slave narratives, legal documents, poetry, and photographs.  You will write short, one-page papers every week that will build towards a final fifteen-page research paper on a topic of your choice related to the history of black girlhood.
Readings will include:
Colleen Vasconcellos, Slavery, Abolition, and Childhood in Jamaica, 1788-1838
Abosede George, Making Modern Girls: A History of Childhood, Labor, and Social Development in Colonial Lagos
Okezi Otovo, Progressive Mothers, Better Babies: Race, Public Health, and the State in Brazil, 1850-1945
LaKisha Michelle Simmons, Crescent City Girls: The Lives of Young Black Women in Segregated New Orleans
Marcia Chatelain, South Side Girls: Growing Up in the Great Migration
Ruth Nicole Brown, Hear Our Truths: The Creative Potential of Black Girlhood
African American Policy Forum, Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced, and Underprotected

Field, C.
Course Category: 
Gender Concentration