The "Sound" of Blackness: African American Language, Social and Cultural Identities, and Academic Success in a Middle School Language Arts Classroom
Williams, Cynthia Hansberry
This dissertation examined the use and variations of African American Language by middle school students. It focused on the relationships of African American Language to the social and cultural identities and academic achievements of students in educational settings. A second focus examined the educational complexities surrounding the uses of African American Language use by students in traditional classroom environments. Over a seven-month period, data were collected on interactions involving the use of African American Language in an eighth grade language arts classroom. Key classroom events and student interviews were examined utilizing the cultural analysis of discourse, thematic, and microethnographic analysis. Also examined were the cultural models for the use and meaning of African American Language and for cultural identity held by five African American Language student speakers. The study also examined the central role of prosody in signaling particular social and cultural identities and explored the significance of students adopting such identities across varying spaces in and outside of the classroom as a means to navigate social existences in a predominantly African American school community.