Professor Courtney Mauldin Awarded Humanities Grant for Black Girls Storytelling Project

School of Education Professor Courtney Mauldin has been awarded a Humanities New York grant for “Foregrounding Black Girls Literacies and Cultural Storytelling,” a project that scales her recent community engagement and research work with The Breedlove Readers Book Club and “Art Story: Love and Language,” a pop-up exhibit and makerspace at Syracuse University’s Southside Communications Center.

Courtney Mauldin stands with books in hand“My new project centers Black girls’ stories by creating space for intracommunal dialogue, guided artmaking, and the opportunity for girls to curate an exhibition that showcases their lived experiences,” explains Mauldin. “It aims to recognize space and environment as a ‘first teacher,’ which is essential to understanding the ways that Black youth—and especially Black girls—read and write the world around them.”

Mauldin adds that the project is an extension of The Breedlove Readers, a young adult (YA) book club where Black girls engage in a communal space, read together, share dialogue, and make art projects that speak to their lived experiences. “At the same time, we unearth themes within the selected novels that we read with each book club cohort,” says Mauldin.

The themes of exploring space, artmaking, and making sense came together at a June 17, 2023, community event at Syracuse University’s Southside Communications Center (2331 South Salina St.), organized by Mauldin and sponsored by the Syracuse University Office for Strategic Initiatives. At “Art Story,” Breedlove Readers showcased the books they have read and the art inspired by it in a pop-up exhibit. Along with the art show, a makerspace invited community members to join an indigo fabric dyeing workshop with art therapist Rochele Royster, mask making, creative writing, and communal painting.

Humanities New York uses the humanities to foster engaged inquiry and dialogue around social and cultural concerns. The organization’s action grants fund projects that encourage public audiences to reflect on their values, explore new ideas, and engage with others in their community.