All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Tondra L Loder-Jackson

Advisory Committee Members

Samantha Elliott Briggs

Jessie LaFrance Dunbar

Dereef Jamison

Andrew N McKnight

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Education


Mothering Ourselves to Wholeness: Employing Black Feminist Criticism & Critical Narrative Methods to Trace Black Maternal Archetypes & Restory the Praxes of Socio-Politically Engaged Black Mothers,” is a project that seeks to uncover the myriad ways Black mothers in diverse geographic spaces in Alabama and in select works of Black literature have forged communal wholeness, protected the most vulnerable, and healed harm outside and within communities. Black Mothering Praxis constellates the communal practices that counter exploitation, center care, accountability, and foster wholeness in a world that breaks and fragments Black bodies and beings. The research begins with identifying the various ways that Black mothers have been read as a “problem” in research, and argues that even though Black feminist thought has, in some ways, become more mainstream, racist misreadings of Black mothers as deficient and unfit persist. While significant work has been done to address Black mothers’ misreadings, stereotyping, framing, criminalization, and dehumanization across disciplines, few studies move beyond the framing and re-imagining of Black motherhood and Black mothering and build a path for exploring how Black mothers’ portrayal in literary texts can be connected to the narratives that real-world Black mothers/other mothers tell and use them to instruct us in creating more livable and loving communities. iv Specifically, my research in Black feminist criticism and critical narrative inquiry used interview data from 14 socio-politically engaged Black mothers in rural, suburban, and urban communities and three select novels and stories written by Black women writers to answer the questions: How have Black mothering practices been written about in select Black literary texts? What Black maternal archetypes are presented in select Black literary texts? In what ways are socio-politically, engaged Black mothers employing activism, advocacy, and organizing strategies in service of rural, urban, and suburban communities? Who are socio-politically engaged Black mothers outside of their service, labor, and production for others? How can the interior and exterior lives of Black mothers in literature, as well as in rural, urban, and suburban communities be explored and used to build a neo-interpretive framework? Through the lens of Black feminist theory, my research contends that Black mothering practices activate freedom, resist oppression, and restore community wholeness. Black mothers’ life stories in literature and across regional contexts clear pathways for fostering communal care and accountability.

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