American Studies ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-14-2020


This dissertation explores the deployment of race and gender in comic books and graphic novels, paying close attention to how Black womanhood and girlhood operates in the speculative future. This project suggests that the framing of black womanhood and girlhood in post-apocalyptic/dystopian spaces provide a counter to the normative notions of both while simultaneously using normative tropes of Black womanhood and girlhood to produce new ways of understanding Black femininity in the future. Nubians of Plutonia use Black feminist cultural criticisms, Black popular culture, and visual culture to ask: does graphic literature present new, more dynamic understandings of race and gender, or does it reinforce racialized and gendered ideologies?

Through an interdisciplinary focus, this project unpacks how Black women and girls in these literary texts shift how we come to know Black spaces, the African diaspora, and otherhood. Through the introduction and deployment of subversive iconicity and hood heroinism, this project engages identity markers and other forms of racial formations among all communities of color. This project ultimately finds that Black female content creators provide alternate ways of knowing Blackness and gender through the reworking of normative renderings of Black female bodies.




black girls, black girlhood, comic books, graphic novels, afrofuturism

Document Type


Degree Name

American Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

American Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Antonio Tiongson

Second Committee Member

Rebecca Schreiber

Third Committee Member

Myra Washington

Fourth Committee Member

Shante Paradigm Smalls


Fifth Committee Member: Cynthia Young