Terrion Williamson

Faculty Advisor: Status: ABD

Contact Information

E-mail: terrionw@msu.edu

Biographical Sketch

Terrion L. Williamson earned her B.A. in 2002 from the University of Illinois at Chicago where she double-majored in English and African American Studies, receiving departmental honors in both. In 2005, she received her J.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she served as Executive Editor of the University of Illinois Law Review and sat on the moot court executive board, among other distinctions. She earned her M.A. in American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California in 2008. Terrion is currently working with Herman Gray, Judith Halberstam, Ange-Marie Hancock, Kara Keeling, and Fred Moten.


  • B.A. University of Illinois at Chicago, 05/2002
  • J.D. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 05/2005
  • M.A. American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California, 08/2008

Employment History

  • Teaching Assistant, Legal Research & Writing, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2003
  • Teaching Assistant, Religion & Ethical Issues w/Alvin Rudisill, University of Southern California, 2007
  • Teaching Assistant, Religions of Latin America w/Roberto Lint Sagarena, University of Southern California, 2008
  • Teaching Assistant, Exploring Ethnicity through Film w/Lanita Jacobs-Huey, University of Southern California, 2008
  • Teaching Assistant, Race and Class in Los Angeles w/Robin D. G. Kelley, University of Southern California, 2009
  • Teaching Assistant, Exploring Culture through Film w/Lanita Jacobs, University of Southern California, 2010


Summary Statement of Research Interests

  • Terrion’s project, “Marks of the Fetish: Twenty-First Century (Mis)Performances of the Black Female Body,” considers the ideological work done by contemporary narratives of black women within popular media texts and discourses that coalesce under the five typologies she has identified as the “nappy-headed ho,” the “baby mama,” the “angry black woman,” the “good Christian girl,” and the “strong black woman.” In order to get at a more conscientious understanding of how the rubrics of culture, ideology, and power shape and manipulate black women’s subjectivity, she contends that these narratives circulate throughout a variety of media including film, television, music, the blogosphere, public policy, and political and social commentary to produce narratives, or ideations, of black female identity that are rooted in pathological logics of difference and work to constrain and delegitimate black women’s agency and various ways of being. She thus argues that ongoing conversations about “stereotypes” are often limited in their ability to move beyond the positive/negative binary they implicitly posit and ultimately do little to recognize the potentialities of black female difference. Moreover, in its insistence on negatively cataloging the behavior of black female cultural producers, stereotype discourse functions to reinforce exactly what it purports to disavow. Terrion therefore proposes an alternative theoretical methodology, informed in part by the work of Judith Butler, Hortense Spillers and John L. Jackson, that includes an analysis of the constitutive nature of race and gender and ultimately has the potential to profoundly affect the way we think about the representative black body.

Research Keywords

  • Black Popular Culture, Christianity, Representation, Feminism, Media, Discourse, Sexuality, Gender Studies, Imagery, Deviance

Honors and Awards

  • Provost Graduate Fellowship, 2005-2011  
  • EDGE Travel Grant, 2010  
  • Ford Foundation Diversity Dissertation Fellowship, 2009-2010  
  • EDGE Travel Grant, 2009  
  • Graduate Professionalism Initiative Grant, 2008  
  • Ninfa Sanchez Memorial Graduate Prize, 2008  
  • Center for Law, History and Culture Fellow, 2006-2008  



  • Department of American Studies & Ethnicity
  • University of Southern California
  • 3620 South Vermont Avenue
  • Kaprielian Hall 462
  • Los Angeles, California 90089-2534