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Title page for ETD etd-11192015-172249

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Keeys, Mia Ruth
Author's Email Address mia.r.keeys@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-11192015-172249
Title Imagination, Interrupted: The Black Child's Public Sphere & Critical Race (Literary) Spaces
Degree Master of Arts
Department Sociology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Richard Pitt Committee Chair
Laura Carpenter Committee Member
  • Black children
  • children's books
  • imagination
  • critical race
Date of Defense 2015-09-01
Availability unrestricted
This study illuminates the Black Child’s Public Sphere (BCPS) in which the young Black American community receives, elaborates upon, and formulates racial meanings, as informed by a collection of literary-based messages. As sociologist Marie Gillespie articulates, “the concept of the public sphere is used both as a critical tool of cultural analysis, and as a measure of democratic communications” (Gillespie 1998: p. 1). This study aims to expand understanding of the public sphere by uniquely examining the race culture and communications of Black children. Often times, these messages are derived within the nexus of adult-centric spheres. Yet, how do Black children consciously create their own racial meanings? To what extent do literary texts—namely children’s books—inform the Black child’s racial imagination in an exceptional manner? I address these questions by deriving data from focus groups with Black children ages 11-13 years, in a major southern U.S. city, and parent survey data. This study focuses on a range of racial meanings that Black children develop through peer interaction, consumption of public-societal and private-familial influences, and from Black children’s books, a specific textual space of the BCPS, and a mechanism facilitating racial imagination.
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