Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2020

Author's School

College of Arts & Sciences

Author's Program

African and African American Studies

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (A.B.)




In recent decades, Black women have taken more agency in the creation, transmission, and circulation of their creative works in the areas of literature, television, and digital media. This raises the question of what is it about Black women’s’ lives, in particular, that makes issues of representation, public depiction, and concealment so important? My research aims to explore this question by examining the means in which Black women conceptualize and contextualize themselves intimately and socially in those creative realms. I will accomplish this through the usage of scholar Elizabeth Alexander’s concept of the Black interior, which she defines as the internal intellectual space where Black people can exist absent of stereotypes. My research will be conducted through close readings and textual analysis of literary texts, and visual and cultural analysis of film, and new digital media. More specifically, I explore the changes and continuities between Gloria Naylor’s novel, The Women of Brewster Place (1982), and the Harpo Productions’ 1989 adapted television mini-series, as well as Issa Rae’s Awkward Black Girl (2011) and her HBO series, Insecure (2016) with each set of paired creations analyzed through a specific intimate emotion in the lens of the Black Interior. The works of Melissa V. Harris-Perry, Tamura Lomax, and Lisa B. Thompson will be foundational as I explore Black women’s specific experiences of the intimate emotions of love, insecurity, and awkwardness. Ultimately, my work will add to the overall conversation about the politics and aesthetics of Black female representation in media.


Jonathan Fenderson


For research inquiries, please feel free to contact the author at