Cover Photo: crop of comic book cover illustration of Riri WIlliams, aka Ironheart
Illustration by Stefano Caselli for Marvel Comics

How I Became a Scholar of Black Girl Fantasy

These stories had deep histories, centered Black women, and belonged to us. We only had to be brave enough to claim them.

It was my love of comics and Lois Lane that led me to my undergraduate thesis research topic, my decision to apply to graduate school, and my eagerness to try my hand teaching a self-designed course called Superheroes in Society while still in college. I was thrilled as I gave impromptu lectures on the various storylines, histories, and authors behind the mythic character I loved—a nosy but talented writer with a big heart, an eye for justice, and a soft spot for a superhero. But with her traditionally violet eyes, dark hair, and white skin, Lois and I couldn’t be further apart in looks. The particular traits I saw and admired in her—abrasive, nosy, sharp as a tack—were traits that had been often perceived differently in me, a Black girl. In the comics, Lois’s antics are met with mild exasperation, but mostly admiration; my own decisions and backbone often garnered calls home from my irritated high school teachers. Lois is often characterized as “spunky” or “feisty”; I register as a disruption, even a threat.

.and

many

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us

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The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger GamesBlack woman Black woman Black woman Black woman

know .

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Dreaming in the Dark

Ravynn K. Stringfield is an American Studies Ph.D. Candidate at William & Mary. Her research focuses on Black women and girls in fantasy new media narratives. Her CNF has appeared in Catapult, ZORA, and Shondaland, and her short fiction can be found in midnight  & indigo and Voyage YA  Journal.  For more, visit her website, ravynnkstringfield.com, or follow her on Twitter, @RavynnKaMia.