Colleen Wilkowski PhD Defense: 'Come Gather ‘Round, People: Building a Constitutive Writing for Publics Pedagogy Through Rhetorical Analysis of Folk Music Recorded by Bob Dylan and Odetta During the Civil Rights Movement'

Committee: Keith Miller (Chair), Shirley Rose, Cedric Burrows.  ::  ABSTRACT: My dissertation contributes to the field of rhetoric and composition by introducing “folk pedagogy,” a pedagogical approach grounded in rhetorical theory that effectively prepares students to write for public audiences. This pedagogical theory answers calls from scholars of rhetoric and composition for teaching in a manner that encourages civic engagement. Folk pedagogy is a pedagogical approach that views folk music as a metaphor for public writing in order to prepare students to write impactfully on social issues. The approach is derived from my analysis of the folk music of Bob Dylan and Odetta, in which I utilize close textual analysis in order to better understand the ways in which their music was able to constitute activist communities around the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Through this analysis, I argue that Bob Dylan and Odetta constituted audiences through appeals to American civic identity, including references to travel across U.S. landscapes and rearrangement of traditional American folk songs. In making this argument, I engage the scholarship of Gregory Clark, Michael Calvin McGee, Maurice Charland, and Rachel Donaldson, among others. I then use this analysis to build folk pedagogy, a subgenre of writing for publics that uses folk music as a metaphor for public writing in order to effectively prepare students to engage audiences through composition. In creating this approach to teaching composition, I draw on the work of scholars such as Brian Gogan and Laurie Gries. This pedagogical approach is inspired by my own teaching experiences in both the university and prison setting and is therefore designed in a manner that is accessible and adaptable for different learning contexts. Finally, I share a syllabus that engages folk pedagogy at the university level. Through this dissertation, I hope to inspire other educators to adapt folk pedagogy for their own classrooms. I also aim to extend our field’s understanding of the civil rights movement by drawing attention to the essential role that folk music played in constituting activist communities around it.

This is a virtual presentation:

Sheila Luna
Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, 1 p.m.