Graduate Student Work-in-Progress: Illustrating Little Manhood & Erasing Black Boyhood in African American Picture Books

Emmett Till Illustration

Cara Byrne, a graduate student in the Department of English, will examine the complexities of visualizing black male identity, especially for and about young black boys. There is a long legacy of picture books that teach young African American boys to become “little men,” leaving behind childish ways to demonstrate rigid maturity and asexual masculinity. This project ultimately contends that many African American picture books not only respond to generations of hate crimes and discrimination but also that black authors and illustrators use the genre as a way to protect the youngest generation and seek social justice. By analyzing the African American picture book genre, which has gone simultaneously critically ignored and popularly embraced, one can see a long lineage of this theme. 

Pre-lecture reception begins at 4:15 pm in Clark 206.