Stories to Tell
November 20, 2020
Washington, DC has been a known hub for Black literary artists. The city is well known for historically significant figures like Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Frederick Douglass, Paul Lawrence Dubar, Georgia Douglass Johnson and others who spent time living and working in DC. This session will highlight the reasons they flocked to the District, literature that's set in DC and documents the city's Black culture in its text, and modern DC based literary artists that are adding to this narrative of DC as Chocolate City. The featured guest speaker for this session was Dr. Tiffany Marquise Jones, an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at William Rainey Harper College in Palatine, IL. Serving as interlocutor for the discussion was NYU DC Global Leadership Student, Abigail Mata-Hernandez.
Dr. Jones obtained her PhD in Anthropology from the University of South Carolina. However, before that, she received her first Masters in Rhetoric and Composition from Georgia State University, where her thesis explored the in-group rejection of African American Vernacular English (AAVE). This research motivated her to pursue a second Masters in Linguistics at UofSC and, ultimately, a doctorate in Linguistic Anthropology.
While at UofSC, Dr. Jones received several grants and fellowships that sponsored her research, an ethnographic project based on 16 months of immersion in Washington D.C.’s Spoken Word poetry community. These awards include UofSC's Institute of African American Research fellowship (2017-2018), UofSC's Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Fellowship (2019-2020), and the American Anthropological Association's (AAA) Minority Dissertation Award (2019-2020). Her dissertation entitled Place-Making Through Performance: Spoken Word Poetry and the Reclamation of “Chocolate City" documents the interactive model of Spoken Word poetry while showcasing how D.C. poets’ performances embody and preserve “Chocolate City” as well as affirm a sense of belonging that has been threatened by gentrification.
Currently, Dr. Jones is working towards completing an ethnographic film short that will examine the oral histories and performances by artists that host and perform at well-known D.C. venue Busboys and Poets as well as the District's longest-running open mic series SpitDat D.C. This venture will also highlight the result of redevelopment projects around the U Street Corridor, formerly known as Black Broadway, including Native Washtonian's grief and loss suffered as a result. Dr. Jones' long-term pursuits in social justice teaching and advocacy research works to produce inclusive pedagogies and public scholarship as well as curate a virtual archive that showcase the richness of AAL verbal art traditions for diverse audiences.