October 2, 2019
Hubler delivers paper at international conference on children's literature
Angela Hubler, professor of gender, women, and sexuality studies, presented a paper titled "Black Female Voices in the Fiction of Police Brutality for Young Adults" on Aug. 14 at the 24th biennial Congress of the International Research Society for Children's Literature in Stockholm, Sweden.
Her paper analyzes the bestselling young adult novel, "The Hate U Give," by Angie Thomas in relation to a genealogy of black women's writing that stresses the black female protagonists' witness of police brutality and the trauma that race, class and gender-based oppression inflicts upon them. This genealogy includes Kristin Hunter's 1968 "The Soul Brothers and Sister Lou," Louise Meriwether's 1970 "Daddy was a Number Runner," Kekla Magoun's 2009 "The Rock and the River," and the 2013 sequel, "Fire in the Streets."
Thomas points out that black girls' voices have been excluded from debates about police shootings. Similarly, she has talked about her alienation from "white feminism," due to a lack of "intersectionality." Thomas' comments are relevant to feminist criticism of children's literature, which has often negated racial difference "by subsuming women of color into the unitary category of woman/women" (Alarcon 290). Her novel, however, challenges the U.S. history of racist police violence with particular attention to its impact on black women.
Hubler's paper is part of her book manuscript in process: "The F-Word in Children's Literature," which argues that while feminism has profoundly influenced children's literature, until recently that feminism has been rarely named, represented or interrogated. On the occasions that feminism — suffrage, women's rights, or women's lib — is named, the representation is often shaped by anti-feminist stereotypes or informed by a gender-only, white liberal feminism rather than an intersectional materialist one. For example, while there are more a dozen historical novels focused on the suffrage movement in the U.S., none feature a protagonist of color, and only one adequately represents the white-supremacist politics that shaped the movement. However, a group of recent novels by Renee Watson, Jennifer Mathieu and Gabby Rivera explicitly embrace feminism and critique the history of racism within it.
Hubler's conference travel was made possible by K-State's Faculty Development Awards and departmental funding. In addition to her presentation, Hubler also served as a mentor to two junior scholars and moderated a panel.