Poetry, Pedagogy, and Social Change: Insurgent Knowledge with Danica Savonick (Aug 2)
Hello friends! I am so excited for next week's discussion, which will be facilitated by my friend and colleague Danica Savonick (ACLS Fellow and Assistant Professor at SUNY Cortland).
As a reminder, we'll meet on Tuesday, Aug 2 at 2pm. Please register here.
In this folder, you'll find three documents:
- An overview of Danica's book manuscript, Insurgent Knowledge: The Poetics and Pedagogy of Toni Cade Bambara, June Jordan, Audre Lorde, and Adrienne Rich in the Era of Open Admissions (under contract with Duke University Press)
- Chapter 1, “Dancing is her way to learn now”: Toni Cade Bambara’s Multimodal and Anthological Pedagogy
- Chapter 2, “This class has much to teach America”: June Jordan’s Public and Project-Based Pedagogy
Please read the overview and one or both chapters, and see the note below from Danica below in preparation for the discussion. Very much looking forward to reconnecting next week!
Wishing you all a beautifully slow, restorative summer.
Project Overview and Notes for Discussion
While authors Toni Cade Bambara, June Jordan, Audre Lorde, and Adrienne Rich are best known for their literature, Insurgent Knowledge recovers the untold stories of their classrooms. It focuses on their overlapping experiences teaching at the City College of New York in the late 1960s and early 1970s, during one of the most controversial moments in U.S. educational history. Through analysis of their archival teaching materials—syllabi, lesson plans, and assignments—alongside their published work, Insurgent Knowledge reveals how these renowned writers were also transformative teachers who developed creative methods of teaching their students to advocate for social change. In addition to recovering their pedagogical legacy, Insurgent Knowledge explores how teaching in open admissions fundamentally altered their writing and, with it, the course of American literature and feminist criticism.
Both Jordan and Bambara developed similar public, project-based, multimodal pedagogies inspired by their experiences at City College. Each chapter emphasizes different aspects of that pedagogy: while Bambara’s chapter focuses on its multimodal and collaborative dimensions, Jordan’s focuses on the practice of publishing student writing. What might also be interesting for this group are the different trajectories the two teacher-poets took later in their careers. While Bambara shifted her focus away from formal academic institutions to focus on community centers, where her teaching could more directly serve Black communities, Jordan spent the rest of her life working to further democratize higher education at public institutions like SUNY Stony Brook and the University of California at Berkeley.
This manuscript is still very much a work in progress. I’m hoping that our session can be a continuation of “In Our Own Words” (in the sense that feedback and suggestions are very welcome!) as well as a discussion of how it relates to the broader themes and questions we’ve been addressing.
As I work to streamline these chapters, it would be especially helpful to know what aspects are most interesting and useful to you, and where you might need greater context / elaboration. A few possible things to consider, in relation to conversations we’ve been having:
- What are the possibilities for teaching in the service of social change today?
- How are the various contexts in which we’re working similar to / distinct from the conditions in which Jordan and Bambara were working?
- How can we create the institutional conditions in which social justice teaching can flourish?
Looking forward to chatting with you all on Tuesday, August 2 @ 2 pm. Thank you, in advance, for reading!
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