Sondra Bickham Washington

I can remember the first time I seriously considered the plight of black girls in literature. Of course I noticed them previously, but initially, their presence or absence in texts made no significant difference to me or my scholarship.

Then, a few years ago, I re-read Alice Walker’s The Color Purple and really contemplated young Celie and the very specific struggles she faced due to her age, societal positionality, and abusive circumstances. This epiphany sparked my interest in literary depictions of black girlhood, and since that time I have written and presented several papers on this topic – one of these is published and another is forthcoming. I am also locating other books and articles that depict or discuss these “most vulnerable, most undescribed, not taken seriously little black girls [who] never existed seriously in literature,” in the words of Toni Morrison.

As a doctoral student in African American literature, I will be using this research as I complete my dissertation. Therefore, as I locate literature featuring black female children and adolescents or discussing black girlhood in general, I will write posts summarizing and analyzing these titles. I will also compile a reading list of literature and other texts that highlight black female children and adolescents as a means of creating a resource for myself and others who are also interested in studying this topic.

I hope you will join me in this endeavor. Please be sure to subscribe to this blog and leave comments to suggest texts for the Black Girlhood Project Reading List and to let me know what you think about featured titles.


Sondra Bickham Washington’s CV