About Carmen Kynard . . .
You know those cis women who tell you that they thought about their wedding dresses, wedding days, bridesmaid dresses, etc when they were little girls? Yeah, well, that was NOT me. I thought that stuff was tacky. A long white dress? And grown women in matching taffeta, pastel dresses with corresponding shoes? That ain't never been cute on nobody and costs more than anyone should have to pay. It's not that I didn't/don't like ceremony, pageantry, tradition, and gathering. I did and do. But I had much bigger plans back then. I was tryna be SHEILA E! Have you seen what this sista can do with EVERY percussion instrument invented? She was what I saw as WOMANHOOD. Fly. Culturally rooted. Inventive. Creative... and. IN. CHARGE.
As I got older, I learned that I could never be someone other than who I was (and that I had NO musical talent). I never forgot Sheila E though. I never let go of the conviction that the standards and norms of what you are supposed to be, how/what you are supposed to create, and how you represent yourself do NOT need to be controlled by traditions that do not include you and could never liberate you.
Today, I am an associate professor of English at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Graduate Center at the City University of New York. My commitment to teaching as part of my professional identity and research represents many years of experience: founding high school teacher for one of the Coalition of Essential Schools in Bronx, New York; on-site school consultant and summer institute leader for the New York City Writing Project; curriculum consultant and designer for the African Diaspora Research Institute and Caribbean Cultural Center in New York; instructional coordinator for the Center for Black Literature (CBL) at Medgar Evers College; facilitator for CBL’s Literature-to-Life and arts programs for Brooklyn high schools; instructional coordinator for pre-college workshops and dual enrollment courses at Medgar Evers College aimed at area Brooklyn high school students; curriculum designer and staff developer for a Community Learning Center Grant in Harlem, New York; and more. Each of these experiences has situated my work in literacy education in very different ways and continues to shape my ongoing understandings of the multiple sites of intervention where such work must occur.
Each semester, each setting, and each institution present both struggles and opportunities to create a space for literacy work that questions and enriches my social environment rather than reify dominant relationships between institutions of power and racially-economically subordinated groups. Thus, my teaching, in both content and form, for both processes and products, engages an approach nested with new literacies, critical pedagogies, and Black prophetic traditions. This means that I approach literacy as: the space for what people do, rather than what they have or do not have; a set of socio-cultural practices, rather than a set of neutral skills to be acquired according to already given political and social hierarchies; a deep engagement with political processes (we either construct ourselves as objects or we act as subjects who can change what lies before us); and an issue of context---personal, cultural, geographic, and historical.
I intend to bring to my research, teaching, and service a commitment to educational change where the humanities, writing studies, and critical pedagogy (in theory and in practice) work in conjunction. I have published in Harvard Educational Review, Changing English, College Composition and Communication,College English, Computers and Composition, Reading Research Quarterly and more. My first book, Vernacular Insurrections: Race, Black Protest, and the New Century in Composition-Literacy Studies (SUNY Press, 2013) makes Black Freedom a 21st century literacy movement and won the 2015 James Britton Award from the Conference on English Education. I trace and challenge my ideas and ideals about research and teaching at my website, “Education, Liberation, and the Black Radical Tradition” (http://carmenkynard.org). Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some of My Favorite Poems
Some of My Other Websites
My Educational Background