Date of Degree
Robyn C. Spencer
Arts and Humanities | Education
Black Studies, Puerto Rican Studies, Women's Studies, movement literatures, social and writing compositions, City University of New York, New York City
In my dissertation, CUNY Will Be Free!: Black, Puerto Rican, and Women’s Compositions, Literatures, and Studies at the City College of New York and in New York City, 1960-1980, I argue that the writings, political actions, and relationships of City College students and teachers underwent a collective decolonial metamorphosis that transformed the landscapes of United States higher education, as public universities like the City University of New York and the University of Puerto Rico became key sites of counterinsurgency to suppress Third World coalitional projects. In doing so, I situate New York City as an epicenter of Black, Puerto Rican, and women’s liberation work, and underscore the conditions in which these participants’ legacies emerged in their poetry, fiction, journalism, and communiqués that continue to animate struggles today both inside and outside of classrooms. I recover the roles of Toni Cade Bambara, David Henderson, and June Jordan as community-grounding scholars who intervened in the formation of Black and Women’s Studies. I also re-interpret Audre Lorde and Adrienne Rich's poetry as texts that illuminate their experiences in CUNY classrooms, and confront the limits of masculinist revolutionary ideologies and studies of the time. Finally, I trace the student compositional records of Samuel Delany’s early sexual and intellectual explorations, Louis Reyes Rivera and Sekou Sundiata’s Third World journalism in Tech News/The Paper, and Guillermo Morales and Assata Shakur’s clandestine organizing back to their City College foundations, as I recover the archival records of the University of Puerto Rico’s student mobilizations against the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) and conscription into the war in Vietnam. Altogether, this document chronicles the entwined “freedom schools” movement pedagogies and creative arts in New York City and Puerto Rico that transformed U.S. higher education in the 1960s and 1970s, preceding a transitional period of U.S. imperialism that would restructure and rebrand itself through neoliberal diversity claims that masked a counterinsurgency campaign upon public higher education.
Reed, Conor Tomás, "CUNY Will Be Free!: Black, Puerto Rican, and Women’s Compositions, Literatures, and Studies at the City College of New York and in New York City, 1960–1980" (2019). CUNY Academic Works.
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