How to Begin is also Where: Placemaking Pedagogy and June Jordan's His Own Where


This paper highlights the multiple modalities through which writer, activist, and educator June Jordan materialized a placemaking pedagogy, grounded in the art of structural critique and using language in the service of social change. In this paper, I show how Jordan “implicitly instructs” her students and young readers in cultivating a structural imaginary that locates one’s seemingly idiosyncratic experiences in relation to physical spaces and the power relations they materialize. For Jordan, placemaking is intertwined with a literary pedagogy that emerges from women of color feminist aesthetics. By considering Jordan’s early teaching experiences alongside “Skyrise for Harlem” and her young adult novel His Own Where, we can better apprehend how cultivating a structural imaginary is a central component of social justice pedagogy, and how literature can facilitate this learning

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