For almost twenty-five years now, I have worked in and with culturally and linguistically pluralistic, urban settings, in and out of schools, from K-16. As an interdisciplinary researcher and scholar, I am especially interested in the ways that race, gender, African Diaspora cultures, Black feminisms, and the politics of schooling collide. I work at the intersection of a few, interrelated disciplines and fields: composition-rhetoric studies, literacies research, feminist/gender studies, and critically raced theories. Today, the content and political-methodologies of my manuscripts, journal articles, keynote addresses, conference presentations, grants, workshops, and community work involve a close following of four, overlapping cyclical themes:
- THEME I. Composition-Rhetoric Studies and the Critical Contexts of Black Language
- THEME II. Black Feminist Rhetorics of Work, Literacy, and Life
- THEME III. Race and Critical Pedagogies/Critical Literacies
- THEME IV. Historiography, Africana Studies, and Literacies Research
|THEME I. Composition-Rhetoric Studies and the Critical Contexts of Black Language
In this theme, I look at the polemics of and research on African American Language (AAL) as representative of a unique political and cultural context. I look at Black Language philosophically as a space that offers radical alternatives of life, freedom, and racial critique. This work first began with book chapters that I published in 2003. Those texts launched journal articles in English Teaching: Practice and Critique, Computers and Composition, and Teaching English at the Two Year College as well as book chapters published by Teachers College Press and Heinemann. I also crafted two local grants connected to urban teacher education. Overall, this body of work links the racial subordination of young people of color with the ways that their multimodality, multilingual literacies, and ethnic rhetorics have been denigrated. For access to my research and pedagogies related to this theme, click here.
My pedagogical focus on Black Language is now most closely related to the digital projects that I engage with undergraduate students, projects that I design from the vantage points of what I call AfroDigital Humanities and Black Digital Vernacular Pedagogies. I explore these ideas in a digital essay that I have presented around the country called ” ‘Make It Do What It Do’— The Early Makings of My Black Digital Vernacular Pedagogies.” Courses and workshops that I have offered related to this theme of my research include: Word is Bond— African American Language and Performance (Undergraduate Course); “Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired”: Black Protest, CompRhet Studies, and the Fannie Lou Hamer Turn (Workshop); SANKOFA: ePortfolio Express Series (Workshop). In these projects, Black Language is not merely a product or set of morphosyntactic choices from speakers and writers but an ideological system and intellectual approach.
|THEME II. Black Feminist Rhetorics of Work, Literacy, and Life|
In this area of my work, I examine discourses of Black women as histories and epistemologies that can (re)shape research, schools, and methodologies. This theme is closely connected to the work that I do in discourse and composition-rhetoric studies but it is distinct in that it is explicitly connected to contemporary Black feminist purposes, methods, and processes. This is the theme where I am expending most of my energy with a new book manuscript, Black Female Students Right-ing/Writing the World: Sites of Recursive Memory. In this monograph, I am looking at how college undergraduate women of African descent construct themselves as mothers, daughters, social activists, and literate beings in the struggle for their own right to flow past barriers and reconstitute themselves in higher education. My most recent article looks at women hip hop deejays and the ways that gender, sexuality, and narrative identities shape their technological experiences and artistry in the industry. Across the broader stretch of this theme, I have published journal articles in Teaching Education, Enculturation, Feminist Teacher, and Harvard Educational Review, and I have forthcoming chapters in edited collections. I also crafted four local grants related to this theme in order to make progress on this set of manuscripts. For access to my research and pedagogies related to this theme, click here.
Black Feminist Rhetorics shape both how and why I teach courses in (or related to) gender studies departments today with an unyielding focus on intersectionality. I explore this approach with undergraduate students in an archive project called Gender-Sphere: The Gender Studies Archive and in a digital essay that I have presented around the country called “From “ ‘Rebel Femmes’ to ‘Feminist Thirst’: Lessons from Students’ ePortfolio Design in Gender/Sexuality Studies Courses.” Courses and workshops that I have offered related to this theme of my research include: #BlackGirlMagic: @The Intersections of Literacies, Pedagogies, and Black Feminisms (Graduate Course); Intersectionality and Activist Research in the Movement for Black Lives (Graduate Course); Senior Writing Seminar in Gender Studies (Undergraduate Course); “Freedom is a Constant Struggle”: Gender and Justice (Undergraduate Course); “Until I Am Free, You Are Not Free Either”: Introduction to Gender Studies (Undergraduate Course); “Unbossed and Unbought”: Black Women’s Rhetorics (Undergraduate Course); and Rhetorics of Intersectional Feminisms (Undergraduate Course, currently in development).
|THEME III. Race and Critical Pedagogies/Critical Literacies|
In this theme, I make an explicit connection to critical pedagogy and theories of race through an intersectional lens. In particular, I am interested in the ways that the histories of African American education in the context of racial oppression bear implicit connections to theories of critical pedagogies and radical approaches to understanding and teaching literacies. In this theme, I have published a journal article, special issue review essay in Literacy in Composition Studies, and a chapter in an edited collection published by Utah State University Press.
My most current work in this theme interrogates race, gender, sexuality, culture, and digital media for which I was awarded a local grant through CUNY Central’s work on undergraduate research. I also explore this theme most critically with and at my open access website/blog that I launched in fall of 2012, “Education, Liberation, and Black Radical Traditions” (http://carmenkynard.org), which has now received more than 1.5 million hits. Alongside the launch of my own website, I have crafted digital syllabi across all of my courses for students but the most relevant courses in this theme are: Digital Rhetorics/ Digital Justice (Undergraduate Course); Writing for Racial Justice in an Unjust World: Critical Race Theory (Undergraduate Course); Rhetoric, Justice & Public Writing in the 21st Century (Undergraduate Course). For access to my research and pedagogies related to this theme, click here.
My general projects related to undergraduate teaching are all inspired by my lens on race in higher education, even when those projects are not explicitly named as such. Such projects include: Digital Spectrum: Multimedia Essays and Digital Projects from the First Year (Undergraduate Journal); The Adelante! Edge: How Second-Semester Students at an Urban, Public University Crafted Their Academic and Career Profiles with ePortfolios (Digital Research Essay and Project with Daniel Auld); 2012-2013 WPA Research Project: What Excites Our Students about Writing?; Back-to-the-Basics: Portfolio Assessment (Workshop); CSS & Portfolio Design (Workshop). All of the projects in this theme of my work converge around my interests in thinking about and providing an alternative center of gravity for a critical university education where the experiences of Brown and Black bodies are centered.
|THEME IV. Historiography, Africana Studies, and Literacies Research|
Here, I situate African American cultural spheres and aesthetic movements as histories of literate traditions. My first book, Vernacular Insurrections: Race, Black Protest, and the New Century in Composition-Literacy Studies, argues that the Black Freedom Struggles of the 1960s and 1970s set particular discursive and political imaginations in motion for composition studies when the dynamics of Black radicalism achieved a “re-vocabularization” of literacy and academic discourse.
I want to continue to tell critical stories here in this theme about the multiple locations where literacy, race, gender, sexuality, and radical African American rhetorical agents have intersected. Related to this theme, I have published journal articles in College Composition and Communication, Reading Research Quarterly, College English, and Changing English: Studies in Culture and Education. The most relevant courses that I have taught related to this theme are: African American Literacies and Education— the 20th and 21st Centuries (Graduate Course); Advanced Topics in Literacies Studies: African American Literacies (undergraduate). Today, my work related to this theme is most notably captured in the work that I did to bring the seventh annual Hiphop Literacies Conference to my current college (see hiphopliteracies.com) and a forthcoming project I am planning for undergraduate and graduate students to create and curate digital indexes related to Black political cultures. For access to my research and pedagogies related to this theme, click here.