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Title:The rhetorics of community space: critical events in Champaign-Urbana's Black Freedom Movement
Author(s):Burns, Michael
Director of Research:Prendergast, Catherine J.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Prendergast, Catherine J.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Mortensen, Peter L.; Ginsburg, Rebecca; Lang, Clarence E.
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Local Black Freedom Movement
Material and Conceptual Space
Abstract:Residing at the intersection of writing studies research that address public rhetoric, and Black Freedom Movement (ca. 1940-1970) scholarship that foregrounds local people and social movements, this dissertation narrates and analyzes critical events relevant to the Douglass Center, a community center in the historically black American North End neighborhood of Champaign-Urbana and argues that the role of that location is both the result of and the location for politicized rhetoric. The dissertation analyses a variety of archival documents from both traditional and nontraditional sources–letters and correspondence, newspaper articles, meeting minutes, proposals, maps–to offer both a rich history of the era and foreground the importance of conceptual space and material location in efforts toward more balanced social relations. The Douglass Center has historically served as a location for members of Champaign-Urbana’s black community to confirm their connection to each other and convene beyond the white gaze. Yet to frame this study solely in terms of the establishment and maintenance of a recreational center obscures both the importance of the Center and the dissertation’s intervention, which is to highlight black community members’ rhetoric in their efforts to establish and maintain control over material and conceptual space. It argues that the tactics used by local actors evidences a critical awareness of the rhetorical (and, by connection, social and political) situation. So, while the dissertation is interested in generating a narrative account, it is more concerned with showing how community members’ rhetorics reveal their own understanding of power relations with the dominant public and demonstrates an awareness of how to improve the material conditions of the local community.
Issue Date:2013-05-24
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Michael Burns
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-05-24
Date Deposited:2013-05

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