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Catherine Knight Steele


Assistant Professor, Communication

(301) 405-8927

2105 Skinner Building; 0301 Hornbake Library
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Tu: 2:00-3:00
Th: 2:00-3:00 and by appointment


Ph.D., University of Illinois-Chicago

Research Expertise

Digital Media
Mass Communication

Cover of Digital Black Feminism

Catherine Knight Steele is an Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Maryland - College Park and was the Founding Director of the Andrew W. Mellon funded African American Digital Humanities Initiative (AADHum). She now directs the Black Communication and Technology lab as a part of the Digital Inquiry, Speculation, Collaboration, & Optimism Network funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Dr. Steele earned her Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research focuses on race, gender, and media, with a specific emphasis on African American culture and discourse in traditional and new media. She examines representations of marginalized communities in the media and how groups resist oppression and utilize online technology to create spaces of community. Dr. Steele's research on the Black blogosphere, digital discourses of resistance, and digital Black feminism has been published in such journals as Social Media + Society, Information, Communication and Society, and Television and New Media. Her book Digital Black Feminism (NYU Press Fall 2021), examines the relationship between Black women and technology as a centuries-long gendered and racial project in the U.S.

Twitter: @SteeleCat717


When the Black lives that matter are not our own: digital Black feminism and a dialectic of self and community

A new urgency has emerged within Black feminist writing online, advocating for a dialectic of self and community interests.


Lead: Catherine Knight Steele

Black women and Black feminist scholars have always pointed out the hypocrisy of advocating for civil rights and freedoms that do not extend to them. However, with the rise of digital culture and tools as the primary space and mechanism whereby Black feminists crafted arguments, a new urgency has emerged within Black feminist writing online, advocating for a dialectic of self and community interests. Black feminist writers have created a new rhetorical principle central to the #BlackLiveMatter movement, which began in the blogosphere with longform writing and enclaved communities. Before the hashtag or activism on Twitter or Instagram, the blogosphere provided a space for Black women to craft new arguments that centralized Black cis and trans women in the fight for justice. Black feminist writers insist that caring for themselves is integral to Black feminist praxis and social justice. Retracing this work from the blogosphere to social media reminds us of the importance of centralizing Black women in our discussion of digital culture and activism and the lessons this may provide in crafting a more just future.