Ashleigh Greene Wade in conversation with Dr. Janice Johnson Dias
City Lights and Duke University Press celebrate the publication of
Black Girl Autopoetics: Agency in Everyday Digital Practice
By Ashleigh Greene Wade
Published by Duke University Press
In Black Girl Autopoetics Ashleigh Greene Wade explores how Black girls create representations of themselves in digital culture with the speed and flexibility enabled by smartphones. She analyzes the double bind Black girls face when creating content online: on one hand, their online activity makes them hypervisible, putting them at risk for cyberbullying, harassment, and other forms of violence; on the other hand, Black girls are rarely given credit for their digital inventiveness, rendering them invisible. Wade maps Black girls’ everyday digital practices, showing what their digital content reveals about their everyday experiences and how their digital production contributes to a broader archive of Black life. She coins the term Black girl autopoetics to describe how Black girls’ self-making creatively reinvents cultural products, spaces, and discourse in digital space. Using ethnographic research into the digital cultural production of adolescent Black girls throughout the United States, Wade draws a complex picture of how Black girls navigate contemporary reality, urging us to listen to Black girls’ experience and learn from their techniques of survival.
Ashleigh Greene Wade is Assistant Professor of Digital Studies, jointly appointed in Media Studies and African American Studies at the University of Virginia. Broadly speaking, her work traverses the fields of Black girlhood studies, digital and visual media studies, Black Feminist theory, and digital humanities. Wade has a Ph.D. in Women’s and Gender Studies from Rutgers University and is an alumna of the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies Fellowship Program. Her work on digital Blackness appears in The Black Scholar, National Political Science Review, Women, Gender, and Families of Color, Visual Arts Research, and Camera Obscura: Feminism, Culture, and Media Studies.
Dr. Janice Johnson Dias is a scholar-activist whose life’s work is developing research-informed, innovative solutions to the challenges facing the urban poor, particularly underserved black mothers and their children. She is the author of “Parent Like It Matters: How to Raise Joyful, Change-Making Girls.”
Praise for the work of Ashleigh Greene Wade:
“With Black Girl Autopoetics Ashleigh Greene Wade gives us a mechanism to witness the creativity embedded in Black girls’ survival strategies and digital social lives. She brilliantly readjusts our framework to focus on Black girlhood as a site of digital exploration, innovation, and creativity. Black girls teach us how to play with the digital through an interrogation of visibility, spatiality, activism, and self-presentation. This is a must-read for anyone invested in reimagining our digital future.” — Catherine Knight Steele, author of Digital Black Feminism
“Black Girl Autopoetics is incredibly important for Black girlhood studies; it will be the go-to book on Black girls’ digital expression. As Ashleigh Greene Wade points out, the dominant paradigm of Black girls’ use of digital media is too often enveloped in panic and mania. Here, she helps us understand how Black girls use media to navigate structures of oppression as they engage their imaginations. Black Girl Autopoetics will help create more life-affirming possibilities for Black girls to be in and move through the world with full access to their creative energies.” — Ruth Nicole Brown, author of Hear Our Truths: The Creative Potential of Black Girlhood
“Ashleigh Greene Wade . . . writes a fascinating book examining the intersection of Black girlhood and digital arts. She argues that Black girls who express themselves creatively in the digital sphere are exposed to the trauma of cyberbullying and harassment as they become hyper-visible, yet at the same time, seldom receive credit for their digital intellectual property and are rendered invisible.” — Jordannah Elizabeth, New York Amsterdam News
This event is made possible by support from the City Lights Foundation.