Ruth Nicole Brown

Section 1

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

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Ruth Nicole Brown is an associate professor in Gender and Women’s Studies and Education Policy, Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research documents, analyzes, and interrogates Black girls’ lived experience and explores the gender and racialized power dynamics of collectivity, particularly as it relates to Black girlhood. Through research and creative projects, she is interested in the ways Black girls make use of abstract concepts like freedom, justice, and power. She is the visionary of Saving Our Lives, Hear Our Truths (SOLHOT), a practice based, publicly engaged, collectively organized space for Black girls to envision Black girlhood anew. 

Brown's first book, Black Girlhood Celebration: Toward A Hip Hop Feminist Pedagogy (Peter Lang Press, 2009) counters the invisibility of Black girls and the marginalization of Black girlhood in academic literature by providing a new way to theorize Black girlhood through praxis. Her second book, Hear Our Truths: The Creative Potential of Black Girlhood (Illinois Press, 2013), provides 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 builds on the work of Black feminists and feminists of color to break intriguing new ground in Black feminist thought and methodology. Currently, she is working on a multi-media project, Black Girl Genius about the importance of independent and everyday Black girls’ cultural and artistic expressions. 

 Ruth Nicole Brown is also the co-editor of Wish To Live: The Hip Hop Feminist Pedagogy Reader with Chamara Jewel Kwayke (Peter Lang Press, 2012) and co-editor of Disrupting Qualitative Inquiry: Possibilities and Tensions in Educational Research (Peter Lang, 2014) with Rozana Carducci and Candace Kuby. Brown has written, performed and produced plays (Endangered Black Girls), performance texts (The Rhythm, The Rhyme and The Reason; Black Girlhood: The Mixtape Remix; Check-In) and curated photo performance exhibits (Necessary Truths: Reflections of African American Girlhood). She is also a member of the band, We Levitate, a digital formation of SOLHOT.

Specializations / Research Interest(s)

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


  • 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 N. Hear Our Truths: The Creative Potential of Black Girlhood. . Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2014.
  • 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).