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Black Women's Rhetoric Project: An Undergraduate Course


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This is an introductory course for undergraduates on African American women's rhetoric. The corresponding website for the course is:

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Black Women's Rhetoric Project: An Undergraduate Course

  1. 1. Black Women’s Rhetoric Project
  2. 2. Imagine… it is 1968 and you could be the first black woman who has ever been elected to congress. What would your campaign entail? What would you promise? How would you convince people to believe in your capacity to “Unbought&Unbossed”: make changes in their lives? A black woman Learning, Researching, doing something they had never seen a blackand Thinking about Black woman do? In 1968, the Brooklyn-native and daughter of Barbadian parents, Shirley Womens Discourses and Chisholm, did indeed become the first black Lives woman elected to the U.S. Congress. Her campaign was organized around her now famous slogan: “Fighting Shirley Chisholm--- A course taught by Unbought and Unbossed.” That slogan will be Carmen Kynard, Ph.D. used as a kind of map for our seminar that will guide our study of how Black women have used rhetorical means in their unique struggle to encounter, re-imagine, and transform their worlds. In other words, what has it looked like, sounded like, and felt like to be “Unbought and Unbossed” for black female poets, essayists, orators, comedians, activists, MCs, b-girls, DJs, musicians, designers, and artists?
  3. 3. Unit One Rhetoric&Black Women: “Giving You Props,Respect and Dignity” In the first days, we spend our time exploring andframing our own definitions of rhetoric and literatepractices in the lives of black women.
  4. 4. Unit Two “While the Water Is Stirring, I Will Step into the Pool”: 19th Century Black Women’s ActivismThere is no better way tointroduce these weeks ofstudy other than to repeat thefirst lines of chapter one inShirley Wilson Logan’s book:19th-century AfricanAmerican women were fullparticipants in the verbalwarfare for human dignity.
  5. 5. Unit Three “You Done Listen toMy Story &Ev’ry-thing Come Out True”: Discourse, Power, &BlueswomenIn these weeks, we will work onlistening to the blueswomenmore deeply---to the lyrics andinto the songs’ meanings. Inother words, when blackwomen are talking aboutanother man who done did ‘emwrong, what social and politicalrealities are they speakingabout and into that extend farbeyond heterosexual/romanticlove? When black women getdeep and blue, what is theworld they reveal?
  6. 6. Unit Four “Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired”:BlackWomen’s Civil Rights MovementWhat we have today is a historythat has largely written blackwomen out of the Civil rightsMovement. But scan the historicalimages of the civil rightsmovement and you will SEE thatblack women and little girls areeverywhere: from the protestersbeing hosed down, to the sit-insand demonstrations by studentsat historically black colleges, tothe teenagers of Little Rock Nine.THAT history is our charge.
  7. 7. Unit Five “Unbought and Unbossed”: Black Congresswomen’sRhetorics of Equality and DemocracyWe will spend this timeworking at three points ofrhetorical study for Chisholm:her campaign for congress,her campaign for presidency,and her autobiography. Fromthere, we will go on to thespeeches and talks by otherprominent black femalecongresswomen.
  8. 8. Unit Six “I Write to Keep in Contact with Our Ancestors and to Spread Truth to the People”: From Black Power to Black ArtsIn this week we areconnecting three points ofblack women’s intellectualand aesthetic history: theBlack Power movement, theBlack Arts Movement (BAM)that was the sister to BlackPower, and contemporaryspoken word artists.
  9. 9. Unit Seven “While You’reImitating Al Capone,I’ll Be Nina Simone”: Black Female MCs and Hip HoppersOur intellectual and politicalpoint of departure will comefrom Marcyliena Morganthese weeks: “hip hopperformers use discursivestrategies to transform thenotion of ‘real’ Americanwomanhood through publicperformances that becomeresources for racial andfeminist identity---and forongoing politicalcontestation.”
  10. 10. Closing“My Soul Looks Back in Wonder at How I Got Ovuh”: Spirit, Vision, and New FuturesWhat we need now is someinspiration--- a re-charge totake us into the week of finalexams. So we will end withblack women whodeliberately use ministry touplift the masses.
  11. 11. To Visit the Course Website: To Visit Carmen Kynard’s Personal Website: http://carmenkynard.orgContact: