Camille Owens

Camille Owens
Contact Information
Email address: 
camille.owens [at]

Arts 370
Arts Building
853 Sherbrooke Street West
Montreal, QC H3A 0G5

Faculty Members
Assistant Professor
Cultural Studies
Specialization by geographical area: 
United States
Specialization by time period: 
Archives & Bibliography
Book History
Creative Practice & Performance Studies
Identity & Representation
Post/Anti/Decolonial Studies
Areas of interest: 

African American literature; American children’s literature; theories of Blackness and indigeneity; disability studies; archival methods; Black feminisms; Black literatures and performance; history of childhood; 
nineteenth-century U.S.


In my work, I examine race, childhood, and ableism at their historical, cultural, and epistemic intersections. My first book, Like Children: Black Prodigy and the Measure of the Human in America (NYU Press, 2024), identifies modern childhood’s developmental schema—from child to Man—as key to naturalizing white patriarchal power, ableism, and race across the nineteenth century. Rethinking the common sense of children’s innate dependence by identifying each system’s historical dependence upon children, this book also tests another common sense: that black children have historically been excluded from childhood. Demonstrating white Americans’ immense possessive investment in black children’s labor and cultural production, this book recenters the history of American childhood around the question of black children’s value. My related research and writing on childhood, race, and disability have appeared in Disability Studies QuarterlyEarly American Literature, and American Quarterly. I teach on a range of topics in black studies, African American and Indigenous literatures, children’s literature, performance studies, disability studies, interdisciplinary research methods, and archival theory.


M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D., Yale University, African American Studies and American Studies
B.A., summa cum laude, Harvard University, History & Literature and WGS

Selected publications: 

Journal Articles

“The Keller Plantation and the Racial Plot of Disability History in the U.S.,” Disability Studies Quarterly, Special Issue on Origins, Objects, and Orientations (Fall 2023) 

“‘I, Young in Life’: Phillis Wheatley and the Invention of American Childhood,” Early American Literature 57, no. 3 Special Issue on Phillis Wheatley Peters (Winter 2022)

“‘Fine Discords’: Anarranging the Archives of Philippa Schuyler,” American Quarterly 73, no. 2 (June 2021).

Awards, honours, and fellowships: 
  • Junior Fellow, Harvard Society of Fellows, 2020-2023
  • 1921 Prize in American Literature, American Literature Society, 2022
  • Ralph Henry Gabriel Dissertation Prize, American Studies Association, 2020
  • Sylvia Ardyn Boone Dissertation Prize, Yale University, 2020
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