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Danica Savonick. “How to Begin is also Where: June Jordan’s Placemaking Pedagogy”


From: Thursday, September 13, 2018, 10:00am

To: Thursday, September 13, 2018, 11:30am

This talk explores the reciprocal relations between teaching and writing in June Jordan’s work as an activist, educator, and author. In 1968, at the height of the Women’s Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, Black Power, and protests against the Vietnam War, Jordan was teaching weekend writing workshops and college courses using methods influenced by these movements. By considering Jordan’s syllabi, lesson plans, and assignments alongside journalistic experiments like “Skyrise for Harlem” and her young adult novel His Own Where, this talk highlights the multiple modalities through which Jordan enacted a placemaking pedagogy, grounded in the art of structural critique and using language in the service of social change. Jordan’s work encourages us to ask, how can classrooms address the uneven distribution of resources along embodied axes of race, class, gender, and sexuality? What kinds of worlds might we build if we aim to be useful, both to the students in our classroom and those beyond its walls? How can we deliberately structure social spaces so that love and human flourishing are the easiest, most instinctive reactions to our built environment? Through analysis of Jordan’s multifaceted work, this talk offers a blueprint for navigating and contesting the privatization of knowledge and power that has come to dominate educational practice. 

Biography: Danica Savonick is an Assistant Professor of Multiethnic Literature in the English Department at SUNY Cortland. She holds a Ph.D. in English and a Certificate in American Studies from the CUNY Graduate Center, as well as a B.A. in English and Comparative Literature from Rutgers University. Her research analyzes the intersections among twentieth-century U.S. literature and culture; feminist aesthetics; critical race, gender, and sexuality studies; and student-centered pedagogy. Savonick regularly blogs about pedagogy and social justice, and her research has been published in American Literature, Modern Fiction Studies, Digital Humanities Quarterly, and Hybrid Pedagogy.


The “What is Decoloniality?” speaker series offers a space to reflect on the formation of, and contemporary relevance and multiple modes of opposition to doctrines of discovery, conquest, and modern colonization as well as of their entanglements with indigenous genocide, racialized slavery, and the coloniality of gender, power, knowledge and being. Rather than being strictly an academic disciplinary approach, decolonial thinking emerges at the intersection of various knowledges and practices that give expression to questions about dehumanization, rehumanization, and decolonization, and to perspectives on and projects toward epistemic, material, and symbolic transformation. As such, this speaker series aims to enrich conversations that shed light on the understanding of coloniality and the unfinished project of decolonization  that is taking place within academia, but even more so outside of academia, and, across universities and other spheres and communities of knowledge production. At stake is the possibility of redefining excellence and relevance through a serious consideration of decolonial forms of critical theorizing, research, literature, social and world-system analysis, pedagogy, artistic work, and other modalities of engagement with communities in struggle. 

Sponsored by the Rutgers Advanced Institute of Critical Caribbean Studies and the Center for Cultural Analysis

What is decoloniality Fall 2018 final copy 04721


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Events sponsored by the Center for Cultural Analysis are free and open to the public, unless specifically noted