Theses Doctoral

It’s Lit: A Critical Qualitative Case Study on the Intersections of Hip Hop Education, Spirituality, and Race

Pirsch, Moira

This dissertation is a qualitative case study exploring the understandings, beliefs, and practices of Youth Spoken Word Poetry (YSW) educators who work within the field of Hip Hop-Based Education (HHBE) and have grown from youth participants to adult professionals within an international YSW Network. This study examines how current YSW practitioners describe and understand their work, along with the multiple literacy practices they utilize related to spirituality and race. This study is framed by a sociocultural lens of education, includes a blend of qualitative research methods related to narrative approaches, and is inspired by literature grounded in Hip Hop-Based Education; Race and Education; and Spirituality and Education. It is a hope of this study that the findings lead to a more nuanced understanding of how HHBE functions within the landscape of education and impact how we approach HHBE moving forward.
Major findings revealed that the participants describe themselves as racialized and spiritual beings in implicit and explicit ways. YSW participants in this study described the field of YSW as grounded in African American lineages and acknowledged that the field currently functions as pluralistic and multicultural. YSW participants describe spirituality as personal, collective, and transcendent experiences. Though participants defined spirituality differently, they described it as something that is present, naming it as an important factor to be considered when examining YSW practice. Core literacy practices participants engaged with and enacted within the YSW community related to race and spirituality included acknowledging their voice as something that was expressed individually, collectively, and universally and across time (past, present, and future). These findings highlight the value of communities that support: (1) Reflection, or honoring individual identities; (2) Refraction, or honoring Communities of Practice that shape our paths; and (3) Dispersion, or the use of stories to support dreaming, sharing, and revolutionizing the world as we know it.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
English Education
Thesis Advisors
Morrell, Ernest
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 10, 2018