The Extracurriculum of Two Black Preachers: A Descriptive Study of Culturally Learned Practices
Fullwood, Kendra L.
University of Kansas
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This study examines the "extracurriculum" of the black preacher, the extracurriculum as theorized in Rhetoric & Composition, a subfield within the discipline of English. The extracurriculum is a concept characterized by one scholar (Anne R. Gere) as the various ways people learn to write outside the walls of the academy by forming their own community groups, workshops, and clubs for the purposes of improving writing, making a difference in one's community, and creating opportunities for self-publishing. Along these lines, in studying the literacy traditions in black churches, another scholar (Beverly J. Moss) makes a case for valuing a different kind of text, a text collaboratively authored by congregation and preacher working together--and therefore, in one sense, a community text: the black sermon. This authorship results in the dialogue that the congregation gives to the preacher during delivery, and she/he depends upon that resource, "without whom the sermon event would be impossible," as explained by Henry Mitchell in Black Preaching: The Recovery of a Powerful Art (112-13). Thus, I seek to demonstrate how written and oral texts, primarily sermons, get learned elsewhere, acquired tacitly through such informal ways as merely growing up inside the lived discursive practices of a community; the sometimes (but not always) intentional modeling of predecessors, elders, and mentors; the everyday transmission of verbal customs from one generation to the next, and so on. My investigation centers upon the following question: What literacy practices of the black preacher originated in the extracurriculum of her/his training, and do those practices have any pedagogical implications for writing, particularly for college students who witness those practices in their daily lives? To acquire the qualitative data needed to understand this extracurriculum, I selected two predominantly (though not exclusively) local African American churches. I conducted oral interviews with twelve subjects in this study; six from each congregation, and the interviews were recorded. The subject population consisted of the following: 1) Two preachers (male and female) from two denominations (Baptist & Methodist), each of whom possesses formally certified training or degreed education, as well as at least ten years in the pulpit; 2) Four parishioners (from each congregation), two of whom were recommended by the pastor, and two of whom were randomly selected (parishioners must represent different age groups and genders, and must be active churchgoers; 3) Two personal witnesses, one from each church, who provided insight about the preacher's development. Also, I conducted participant-observations in order to give a full description of the black church environment and the black preacher's congregation, the audience. Additionally, I collected audio-visual recordings of observed worship services. This description and analysis will give a rich account for the complex interplay of the communally learned elements crucial to the black preacher's effectiveness. Therefore, examining the extracurriculum of the black preacher may reveal culturally-specific rhetorical acts that have yet to be adequately examined in the context of writing instruction.
- Dissertations 
- English Dissertations and Theses 
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