Date of Award

2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Education

First Advisor

Gerald Campano

Abstract

This practitioner research (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009) study explores how a multiracial inquiry group of girls of color mobilized their literacies in service of building solidarity with one another across nondominant differences (Lorde, 2007). The stories and theories of the eight girls in the group, which they named the Unnormal Sisterhood, are centralized in this dissertation in service of adding nuance to conversations about the needs, desires, and brilliance of girls of color. Informed by feminist of color epistemologies (e.g. Anzaldúa, 1983; Collins, 2000; Lorde, 2007), postpositive realist perspectives (Mohanty, 2000; Moya, 2000), sociocultural perspectives of literacy (e.g. Street, 1984), and culturally sustaining/responsive literacy pedagogies (e.g. Ladson Billings, 1995; Paris & Alim, 2017), this study inquires into how the writing practices of girls of color and the pedagogies that center them might provide a platform for the development of what I’ve theorized as “unnormal sisterhood,” a new form of sociality produced as girls of color work towards self and group definitions that honor their simultaneous differences and connectedness. Using ethnographic methods, I gathered data including fieldnotes, interviews, focus groups, and artifacts, and utilized in Vivo and thematic coding and analytic memos to unearth findings.

The first finding from this study is that the centralization of girls’ narratives, theories, and understandings in literacy curriculum can help girls of color establish important notions of resistant self-love. Their narratives resist dominant and deficitizing discourses and, instead, illustrate their complexity, artistry, and brilliance. The second finding is that as girls of color engage literate activities that allow them to engage in one an others’ stories and theories, they can progress towards conceptions and enactments of solidarity that honor difference, thereby allowing them to better understand not only how to fight for their own, but also their sisters’ rights and humanity. The third finding is that as girls of color engage in literate activities that center their stories, theories, and ways of knowing, they are able to name and build incisive critiques of systemic oppression.

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