Ruth Nicole Brown

Section 1

Associate Professor of Gender and Women's Studies,Center for African Studies, and EUI

Contact Information:


Dr. Ruth Nicole Brown is an assistant professor in the Gender and Women’s Studies and Education Policy, Organization and Leadership Studies Departments at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign. Her research documents, analyzes, and interrogates Black girls’ lived experiences as it intersects with cultural constructions of Black girlhood. Her first book, Black Girlhood Celebration: Toward A Hip Hop Feminist Pedagogy counters the invisibility of Black girls and the marginalization of Black girlhood in academic literature. Black Girlhood Celebration demonstrated how liberal assumptive frameworks of culture, society, and youth programming have contradictory implications for the type and quality of value assigned to Black girls’ lives. Her second book, Hear Our Truths: The Creative Potential of Black Girlhood, is an ethnographic account of the creative processes Black girls rely on to make intelligible the ways power, creativity, spirituality, memory, and performativity structure meanings of belonging. This book draws directly from her experiences in SOLHOT. SOLHOT (Saving Our Lives, Hear Our Truths), founded in 2006 by Ruth Nicole Brown, is a commitment by Brown in collaboration with the Champaign community to organizing a “space” dedicated to the celebration of Black girlhood in all of its complexity. As a critical method of civic engagement, SOLHOT is a creative cutting-edge application of Dr. Brown’s studied and research interventions in Black Girls’ Studies and Hip Hop Feminism.

Specializations / Research Interest(s)

  • Black Feminism and Black Girlhood
  • Critical Youth Culture and Studies
  • Performance Studies
  • Art-Based Research

Research Description

  • Dr. Brown’s research is interdisciplinary. She writes, performs, and produces plays, performance texts, photo-performance exhibits, books, and journal articles to document the lived experiences of Black girls in the United States and throughout the diaspora. 


  • Ph.D., University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Political Science. Certified in Gender and Women’s Studies and World Performance Studies
  • M.A., University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Political Science
  • B.A., University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Political Science



  • Brown, Ruth Nicole. Black Girlhood Celebration: A Hip Hop Feminist Pedagogy. . New York: Peter Lang, 2008.

Edited Books

Journal Articles

  • Brown, Ruth N. "Political philosophy of theatre: The experience of avant-garde and Black theatre." Linguistic and Philosophical Investigations 9 (2010): 17-35.
  • Brown, Ruth N. "Dianne Pinderhughes: A career dedicated understanding the racial dynamics of American politics and to serving as an agent of change. ." PS Political Science & Politics 41 (2008): 233-238.
  • Brown, Ruth Nicole. "Speaking Free and Fully: The Political Significance of Black Girls' Way with Words." International Journal of Africana Studies 13.1 (2007): 83-98.
  • Brown, Ruth Nicole. "Persephone’s Triumph: Reflections of A Young Black Woman Becoming A Real Political Scientist." Qualitative Inquiry 13.5 (2007): 650-659.
  • Brown, Ruth N. "Speaking free and fully: The political significance of Black girls’ way with words." International Journal of Africana Studies 13.1 (2007): 83-98.
  • Brown, Ruth N. "Remembering Maleesa: Theorizing Black girl politics and the politicizing of socialization." National Political Science Review 11 (2007): 121-136.
  • Brown, Ruth Nicole. "Mentoring on the Borderlands: Creating Empowering Connections Between Adolescent Girls and Young Women Volunteers." Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge 4 (2006): 105-122.


  • Creative Works Black Girlhood: The Mixtape Remix A hip-hop inspired choreopoem that documents the everyday struggles and joys of Black girls. Lexington, KY. (March 2011).,
  • Check-In! Building on Shange’s concept of the choreopoem, this performance engages reflective moments of doing and living Saving Our Lives Hear Our Truths (SOLHOT) through song, poetry, and dance by SOLHOT participants. Independent Media Center. Urbana, IL (April 2010).,
  • Necessary Truths: Reflections of African American Girlhood Photography exhibit created in collaboration with Claudine Taaffe and African American middle school girls. Krannert Art Museum. Champaign, IL (February 2009).,
  • The Rhythm, The Rhyme, and The Reason Performance piece co-written and performed with Claudine Taaffe and Chamara J.Kwayke, first conceptualized at the 2008 National Women’s Studies Association and later premiered at the University of Illinois Krannert Center for the Performance Arts (September 2008). A staged version of this performance piece was performed at Southern Connecticut State University (October 2008). ,
  • Endangered Black Girls Play premiered at the University of Illinois Armory Theatre (March 2008) and was also staged at the University of Southern California, and Cornerstone Theatre in Los Angeles, CA. (October 2008). A revised version of the play was produced at the East African Theatre Festival in Addis Abba, Ethiopia (November 2008).