Feel These Words: Writing in the Lives of Urban Youth

Feel These Words: Writing in the Lives of Urban Youth

by Susan Weinstein


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Feel These Words is the story of nine young people from Chicago-Jig, Crazy, TeTe, Mekanism, Robbie, Marta, Patricia, Jose, and Dave-who regularly write poetry and/or song lyrics, but not for school. The Writers, as author Susan Weinstein calls them, are skilled in a variety of literacy-centered discourses through which they develop sophisticated understandings of core rhetorical issues and explore concepts of identity, social positioning, gender roles, and sexuality. Despite a deep engagement with imaginative composition, their work regularly goes unrecognized or is devalued due to the normative trends in standardized curricula and testing. Weinstein argues that this devaluation exists because their writing is informed by discourses that use language, forms, and styles different from-and at times at odds with-the mainstream. She explores the ways in which educators can focus not simply on what they believe kids need to be taught, but also on what makes them want to learn.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781438426518
Publisher: State University of New York Press
Publication date: 06/04/2009
Pages: 201
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Susan Weinstein is Assistant Professor of English at Louisiana State University.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

1 "I Am Me But Who Am I?": Introducing the Writers 11

2 "You Never Let Me Speak": Power, Language, and Learning 39

3 "Questioning Myself and the People Around Me": Identifications and Communality in Imaginative Writing 57

4 "You Gotta Be a Writer to Get in the Game": Understanding Rap as a Literate Discourse 73

5 Pregnancy, Pimps & "Cliched Love Things": Writing Through Gender and Sexuality 101

6 "My Work Sparked an Interest in Someone Else": The Pleasures of Imaginative Writing 119

7 "I'm Book Smart, Street Smart & Everything in Between": Writing, Literate Identity, and Academic Achievement 135

8 "If You Can't Write You Can't Succeed": Changing Attitudes Among Educators and Youth 155

Epilogue: Where Are They Now? 161

Appendix 165

Notes 169

Works Cited 173

Index 181

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