Vernacular Insurrections

Race, Black Protest, and the New Century in Composition-Literacies Studies

By Carmen Kynard

Subjects: English Education, Composition And Rhetoric Studies, Higher Education, African American Studies
Paperback : 9781438446363, 334 pages, January 2014
Hardcover : 9781438446356, 334 pages, April 2013

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Table of contents

Introduction: Runnin with the Rabbits, but Huntin with the Dogs: On the Makings of an Intellectual Autobiography
Teaching Interlude I: Method Men and Women
1. “Before I’ll Be a Slave, I’ll Be Buried in My Grave”: Black Student Protest as Discursive Challenge and Social Turn in Nineteenth– and Twentieth–Century Literacies
Teaching Interlude II: Through Their Window
2. “I Want To Be African”: Tracing Black Radical Traditions with “Students’ Rights to Their Own Language”
Teaching Interlude III: Undoing the Singularity of “Ethical English” and Language–as–Racial–Inferiority
3. “Ain’t We Got a Right to the Tree of Life?”: The Black Arts Movement and Black Studies as the Untold Story of and in Composition Studies
Teaching Interlude IV: “Not Like the First Time, Talkin Bout the Second Time”
4. “The Revolution Will Not Be [Error Analyzed]”: The Black Protest Tradition of Teaching and the Integrationist Moment
Teaching Interlude V: “Your Mother is Weak”
5. What a Difference an Error Makes: Ongoing Challenges for “White Innocence,” Historiography, and Disciplinary Knowledge Making
Outerlude: Leaving the Emerald City

Relates Black Freedom Movements to literacy education.


Winner of the 2015 James M. Britton Award presented by Conference on English Education a constituent organization within the National Council of Teachers of English

Carmen Kynard locates literacy in the twenty-first century at the onset of new thematic and disciplinary imperatives brought into effect by Black Freedom Movements. Kynard argues that we must begin to see how a series of vernacular insurrections—protests and new ideologies developed in relation to the work of Black Freedom Movements—have shaped our imaginations, practices, and research of how literacy works in our lives and schools.

Utilizing many styles and registers, the book borrows from educational history, critical race theory, first-year writing studies, Africana studies, African American cultural theory, cultural materialism, narrative inquiry, and basic writing scholarship. Connections between social justice, language rights, and new literacies are uncovered from the vantage point of a multiracial, multiethnic Civil Rights Movement.

Carmen Kynard is Associate Professor of English at St. John's University.


"With this groundbreaking book, Carmen Kynard claims her place among a growing group of scholars who are challenging traditional models for teaching writing and for understanding the role of linguistic diversity in effective communication. She skillfully draws on her own classroom experiences to demonstrate the liberatory, meaning-making potential of writing generated in an environment of trust and respect." — Shirley Wilson Logan, author of Liberating Language: Sites of Rhetorical Education in Nineteenth-Century Black America