The Center for Writing Studies

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Colloquium Archive

Carmen Kynard

Name: Carmen Kynard, St. John's University.

Presentation Title: “I Carry The Eyes of Ida B. Wells': Discourse, Rhetorical Action, and the Power of the Word in the Writing of Black Female College Students"

Date: February 10, 2011


Although we now have significant research and scholarship that analyze multi-ethnic/multi-racial students discourses in and out of classrooms in composition, literacies, and educational studies, we still experience a general drought of knowledge concerning black female students as writers and literate beings. It is more likely to see black female students aggregated with black males to the bottom pole of the "achievement gap," more likely to hear dismissals of black female literacies as an essentialist idea, and more likely to see accounts of the impossibility of a radically "alternative" process and product for black female students writings (since such students must be supposedly taught that they are doomed to the eternal hell of their blackness if they do not internalize white rules of schooling.) This presentation attempts to engage a critical discourse analysis of overarching concepts in black female college students' writing that are endemic to their own "endarkened epistemologies" rather than racially pathologized notions of underachievement (Dillard, 2000; Richardson, 2003). In so doing, we can begin to use the literate experiences of black female college students "as a point of critique and data for institutional change" (Guinier, Fine, and Balin, 1997).