Program

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships , ACLS Fellowship Program

Project

The Promise of Aesthetic Education: On Pedagogy, Praxis, and Social Justice

Project

Insurgent Knowledge: The Poetics and Pedagogy of Toni Cade Bambara, June Jordan, Audre Lorde, and Adrienne Rich in the Era of Open Admissions

Department

English

Named Award

Tenure Track Teaching Intensive

The Promise of Aesthetic Education: On Pedagogy, Praxis, and Social Justice

While many of the most important feminist and antiracist poets in the United States had life-changing careers as teachers, their engaged pedagogies have long been overlooked. This dissertation analyzes how aesthetics shaped classroom practices in the late twentieth century and, reciprocally, how educational opportunity programs helped produce some of the most powerful literature of the 1960s and 1970s. Through archival research on the syllabi, lesson plans, and assignments of Audre Lorde, Toni Cade Bambara, June Jordan, and Adrienne Rich, and analysis of their published work, this project argues that these teacher-poets developed pedagogies of collective dissent deeply influenced by their experiences teaching in the nation’s first state-mandated educational opportunity program at the City University of New York.

Insurgent Knowledge: The Poetics and Pedagogy of Toni Cade Bambara, June Jordan, Audre Lorde, and Adrienne Rich in the Era of Open Admissions

“Insurgent Knowledge” is the first monograph to analyze the classrooms of authors Toni Cade Bambara, June Jordan, Audre Lorde, and Adrienne Rich, all of whom taught at Harlem’s City College in the late 1960s. While these authors are often studied for their writing, their archival syllabi, lesson plans, and assignments reveal that they developed creative methods of teaching students to advocate for social change. At the same time, teaching during this revolutionary moment in educational history inspired what I call “the genres of open admissions” and many insights now associated with intersectional feminism. “Insurgent Knowledge” thus reveals how these renowned authors were also transformative teachers and educational activists, whose experiences in public universities fundamentally altered the course of American literature.