Speculative Herstories: A Narrative Analysis Study of Black Girls' Afrofuturist Stories
Stephanie Toliver

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



University of Georgia

Primary Discipline

Afrofuturism is a cultural aesthetic in which Black authors create speculative texts that center Black characters in an effort to reclaim and recover the past, counter negative and elevate positive realities that exist in the present, and create new possibilities for the future. This aesthetic has been used by Black authors to critique oppression and imagine unbound Black subjectivities in future or alternate worlds, so it is a tool that Black girls can use to imagine more equitable futures. The purpose of my dissertation study, then, is to center how Black girls might use oral storytelling and Afrofuturistic short story writing to critique, discuss, or subvert social in/justice and position themselves as agents of social change. Using Womanism and Muted Group Theory as the guiding framework, my qualitative study will harness narrative inquiry and thematic analysis to better understand the stories of seven Black girls participating in a Black women's writing collective, a co-constructed space infused with unique elements of Black woman and girlhood. This focus is significant because the U.S Department of Education touts that prohibiting discrimination and ensuring equal access to education is essential. Because it is positioned as a pillar of social justice, the consistent erasure, marginalization, and dehumanization of Black girls presents critical challenges to the very foundation of the U.S. education system. Thus, my study is vital in assisting all education stakeholders to recognize and dismantle systemic, hegemonic practices that uphold, rather than denigrate the oppression of Black girls in educational spaces.
About Stephanie Toliver
Stephanie R. Toliver is an incoming Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Informed by her love of science fiction and fantasy texts as well as her experience as a 9th and 10th grade English teacher, Toliver?s scholarship centers the freedom dreams of Black youth and honors the historical legacy that Black imaginations have had and will have on activism and social change. Specifically, her research centers three, interrelated areas: (1) the examination of how Black youth engage in the reading and writing of speculative fiction to discuss and challenge their experiences with social injustice; (2) the consideration of how intersecting oppressions infiltrate the field of education and how educators must use their imaginations to dream of ways to challenge injustice in schools; and (3) the demonstration of how Black people use speculative storytelling to metaphorically describe modern and historical antiblackness and to dream of worlds and futures in which Black people are free from the burdens of societal injustice. She is the author of Recovering Black Storytelling in Qualitative Research: Endarkened Storywork, and her academic work has been published in several journals, including Equity, Excellence, & Education; Journal of Literacy Research; and Research in the Teaching of English. Her public scholarship has been featured on LitHub, Huffpost, and the Horn Book.

Pin It on Pinterest