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Humanities Speak of Race (2021): Unbecoming Me: Models of Transgressive Black Girlhood

Public Humanities, Building Publics

May 5, 2021

This spring, we open our Building Public Series with Margaret Banks and her project Unbecoming Me: Models of Transgressive Black Girlhood, a summer camp devised with high school students to (re)imagine constructions of Black Girlhood through creative practice and literary study. With guests Jydin Harwell (Frederick Douglass Academy and Double Discovery Center) and a response by Ruth Nicole Brown (Michigan State University).

Margaret Banks is a PhD student in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. She studies coming-of-age narratives of Black girls to explore their transgression and modes of being in an anti-Black world. Prior to doctoral study she taught middle school humanities, and currently teaches high school humanities courses through Columbia’s Double Discovery Center. As a teacher, she seeks to connect the world-making strategies she encounters in her literary research to the strategies Black girls already generate and use in their everyday lives.

Her public humanities project, the Unbecoming Me Summer Camp, is a program for Black girls to unravel and (re)imagine constructions of Black girlhood thorough creative practice. Emulating literary characters like Sula and Nel from Toni Morrison’s Sula, the campers will use artistic media to explore transgressive girlhood in community with one another.