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Dissertation Defense Announcement

 College of Arts and Sciences announces the Final Dissertation Defense of

Crystal Harris

for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

November 05, 2019 at 09:15 AM in Patterson Hall Library

Advisor: Verena Erlenbusch-Anderson

"Repossessing Her Self Possession": A Lesson in Communal Pedagogy

ABSTRACT: This dissertation uses historical and literary mediums to assign pedagogical skills and communal benefit to African American female subjugation and labor typically associated with turmoil, ignominy, and struggle. Accordingly, Black feminist commentary (Lorde) is in conversation with theories of pedagogy (hooks, Ladson-Billings, Dewey) as well as literary philosophy and criticism (Bakhtin, Baraka) about the particular ways each field of study contribute to the analysis of twentieth century African American literature but also provide specific methods for Black communities to construct, implement, and sustain educational principles throughout time. Using the term communal pedagogy, I argue that African American culture has an inherent pedagogy based on survival literacies produced during the Middle Passage. These literacies build upon oral traditions, spirituality, mass movement throughout the twentieth century, and sociopolitical Movements, under the Black woman's subjugated leadership. Organized around the Great Migration, the dissertation begins before its onset to reveal the brutal circumstances that initiated survival literacies during the Middle Passage. Through literary texts and historical examples the chapters move with characters through the rural South to the urban North and West scrutinizing the ways individuals' internalization of cultural and hegemonic traditions inform pedagogy. By the end of the Great Migration in the 1970s, aggravations of the civil rights era produce intentional and unintentional Black female facilitators of communal pedagogy, proving the necessity of movement with the Black community. However, when some chose to rebuke traditions and communal pedagogy's individual collectivism, they brought destruction to the community. Nonetheless, the civil rights era invigorated lost cultural traditions by recalling Zora Neale Hurston's literary spirit. The juxtaposition of old folkloric traditions with new sociopolitical Movements represents Bakhtin's heteroglossia as women began to teach through their own centralizing pracitices in order to destabilize systemic forces. Effectively, these forces affected children as they emulated the Black women who taught them about hierarchal systems of power through cultural traditions. Ultimately, communal pedagogy broadens the scope of Black women's talents through a historical and literary lens and has a profound effect on how scholars and teachers envision the African American community sustaining a pervasive pedagogy.