Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Jessica Yood

Committee Members

Amy J. Wan

Carmen Kynard

Luke Waltzer

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities


composition-rhetoric, pedagogy, African American Studies


This project addresses the absence of literacy pedagogies produced by Black rhetors mostly in the mid-20thcentury South from the field of Writing Studies. One of the aims of this project is to center the rhetorical work of teachers and organizers like SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) facilitator Ella Baker, educator Septima Clark, and activist Stokely Carmichael, among others, as a major reference point for instructors and administrators in the field who are invested in practicing literacy pedagogies rooted in social justice. This project also seeks to invite folks in the field as well as other interested parties to develop responsive literacy pedagogies guided by principles of receptivity, reflection and reflexivity, ritual work, and crafthood (each chapter in this work addresses one of these four principles). It is my hope that readers recognize my acknowledgement of Black rhetorical work throughout this dissertation as a larger pedagogical imperative that can be implemented in their own learning spaces. I examine both primary and secondary accounts of the work of Black mid-20th century rhetors throughout this project, use relevant and current Writing Studies scholarship to support my arguments, and contribute my own pedagogical theory and practice in the third and fourth chapters of this work.

My key contentions are as follows: Black mid-20th century teachers and organizers involved in the Sea Island Citizenship Schools and Mississippi Freedom Summer practiced, as well as ritualized, care work, which I contend can help to support the social justice pedagogies we practice now, as these pedagogies tend to be inspired and informed by issues of policing of Black and brown bodies, incarceration, and food and housing insecurity, among other things; Black rhetorical practices have always, by necessity, been ambulatory (to contend with, among other things, racist state repression, historically)—and this fact can help us to imagine pedagogical formations (like workshops, which I discuss in chapter four of this work) that can occupy different spaces and by extension, be more responsive to our students.

This project offers scholars in Writing Studies as well as those invested in social justice pedagogies a framework to grapple with the current political and social forces that both instructors and their students engage—with, I hope, room to make even more room for what our students wish to develop and create in our college writing courses.