Graduate Studies


Date of this Version

Spring 5-2014


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: English, Under the Supervision of Professor Stacey Waite. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2014

Copyright 2014 Sherita V. Roundtree


There are several ways of producing, receiving, and responding to noise. Noise is often jarring and active; and although it is not inherently negative, the academic institution displaces noise as a practice that does not belong. Elizabeth Boquet’s book, Noise from the Writing Center (2002), discusses “noise” in the sense of a high risk/high yield model -- the more that is risked, the higher reward. However, this understanding about the possibilities of noise does not account for the complex positions and the varying levels of personal risk for African American students and their raced bodies. Therefore, I will take on the term, noise, as it applies to African American students -- a degree of disciplined resistance in spaces that have worked to accommodate, not facilitate and support their needs. As I will argue, noise is a way of speaking back to situations and, at times, disrupting the narrative that works to oppress and alienate.

In a similar respect, this paper will extend the conversation to explore the binaries in which African American students receive writing instruction: the practices of romantization or restriction. Instructors romanticize the mother-tongues of African American students and encourage them to embrace their written identity. However, instructors regularly fail to inform those students of the potential consequences of using such practices. On the other hand, instructors who only recognize Standard American English as the standard for students to succeed and communicate effectively do not present opportunities for students to introduce their personal selves to their academic selves. As a means of respecting African American students' multifarious identities, instruction language diversity needs to be explicit and transparent so that students can negotiate when they might or might not implement noise.

Adviser: Stacey Waite