Sheri Parks

Associate Professor

Sheri Parks is Associate Dean for Research, Interdisciplinary Scholarship and Programming for the College or Arts and Humanities, an associate professor of American Studies, and founding director of the Arts and Humanities Center for Synergy at the University of Maryland at College Park.

A public intellectual, she has appeared frequently in national and international media.  She is a long time and award winning public radio host and commentator and is now a regular cultural critic for WYPR-NPR and the Baltimore Sun podcast, Roughly Speaking.  Her general research area is that of public aesthetics, the ways in which people find and create meaning and beauty in their everyday lives, with specific emphasis on race, gender, social class and sexuality.  She is a well-known black academic feminist, whose work has been identified as part of the black feminist canon.    She is the leader for one of the first National Endowment for the Humanities in the Public Square grants for Baltimore Stories: Narratives and the Life of an American City and one of the co-leaders of a 1.2 million dollar grant awarded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for Synergies among Digital Humanities and African American History and Culture.

Her most recent publication is Fierce Angels: Living with a Legacy from the Sacred Dark Feminine to the Strong Black Woman.  In the book, now in its second edition, Dr. Parks traces the archetype of the nurturing and strong Sacred Dark Feminine from early creation stories, through religion, literature, and in the secular version of the Strong Black Woman, into popular culture, and includes interviews with black women about the roles’ uses and costs.   In all of her work, she strives to explain the deeper cultural histories that inform the expectations, attitudes and relations that Americans have with each other so that richer understandings will lead to more sophisticated and mutually rewarding interactions.  Fierce Angels was an Editor’s Pick by Essence magazine.

Research Areas

  • Critical Race and Ethnic Studies
  • Popular Culture
  • Media Studies
  • Gender Studies


  • Ph.D. Communication Studies (University of Massachusetts-Amherst)
  • M.A. Communication Studies (University of Massachusetts-Amherst)
  • B.A. English and Radio, Television and Motion Pictures (University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill)



  • Fierce Angels: The Strong Black Woman in American Life and Culture. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2010.

Articles and Book Chapters

  • “Black Families and the Media.” Managing Black/White Tensions at Home: Family Communication and Ethnic Cultural Diversity. Ed. T. Socha and R. Diggs. New York: Erlbaum, 1999.
  • “Through Our Own Eyes.” Black Film Review March 1995.
  • “Ridicule as an Educational Corrective.” Journal Of Educational Psychology 73 1981. 722-27.
  • “In My Mother’s House: Traditional Black Feminism in the PBS production of A Raisin in the Sun.” Theatre and Feminist Aesthetics. Ed. K. Laughlin and C. Schuler. Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson, 1995.
  • “In My Mother’s House: Black Feminist Aesthetics, Television and A Raisin in the Sun.” Feminism and Theater. Ed. C. Schuler. Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson, 1993.
  • “Feminism in the Lives of Ordinary Women.” Barnard College Occasional Papers. Fall 1990.
  • “The Effect of Ridiculing a Television Model on Children’s Imitation of the Model’s Behavior.” Human Communication Research 10 1983. 243-55.
Sheri Parks
Faculty Information
Campus Address
3324 Tawes Hall
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