close up of cut fabric arranged to make a figure

Dissertation

Yet to be titled, my dissertation is all about how philosophy as a discipline (at least mainstream, analytic, Eurocentric philosophy) can and should be open, accessible, and truly inclusive of all. I'm applying my material and process-based approach to philosophy--detailed below--to the ideas and critiques advanced by philosophers such as Kristie Dotson, Patricia Hill Collins, bell hooks, George Yancy, Charles W. Mills, and others.

 My aim is to amplify their ideas and advance their projects of a more inclusive, equitable, and just discipline by using my approach--illustrated by narratives of my own experience and explored through a metaphor of quiltmaking--to highlight important threads in these works.

Woven together (pun intended), these key threads will help us expand the traditional canon of philosophy--that is, the texts and authors we cite and teach, and the methods we use to do philosophy--to become a place where everyone can find connection, community, and belonging in pursuit of understanding and wisdom.

Cream cat laying on top of pile of multicolor African fabrics

Key Ideas

Material-Oriented Approach

My lens for research, teaching, and philosophy generally is always grounded in the material. By this, I mean that I work from bodies and embodied knowledge, lived experience and everyday practice, concrete particulars, and paying attention to what authors, perspectives, and issues I am engaging with as a central component to my work.

 

This means choosing to use non-traditional and interdisciplinary research epistemologies, methods, and sources of knowledge, and to prioritize engaging work from thinkers chronically underestimated, ignored, or excluded from philosophy for centuries as a facet of oppression.

Core Areas

Key Figures

Kristie Dotson

Dotson's article, "Concrete Flowers: Contemplating the Profession of Philosophy," is a critique of mainstream Western philosophy's norms that serves as a guiding framework for my project.

bell hooks

hooks' text, Teaching to Transgress, is a touchstone of my inclusive pedagogical praxis, and her accessible academic writing through personal narrative influences my own writing style. 

Patricia Hill Collins

Collins' seminal work, Black Feminist Thought, provides key theoretical tools that help bridge quilting to philosophy, and from critiquing the mainstream philosophical canon to transforming it.

Form and Method

My dissertation is intended to model my argument for how a material-based approach to philosophy, using non-traditional sources, methods, and communication styles, can do important philosophical work that is accessible and inclusive without having to adhere to the norms of traditional mainstream Western professional philosophy.

Inspired by the arguments and style of scholars including bell hooks, Tressie McMillan Cottom, and George Yancy, I am writing in a  conversational tone using personal narrative and drawing from lived experience and community-based knowledge in connection with influential ideas from scholars from marginalized and historical excluded groups, particularly Black women writers.

I have also conceived of my project through spatial connections rather than linear argumentation, represented metaphorically and visually through a material object--a symbolic art quilt I am making in conjunction with the dissertation--and intend to write and publish the project (pending approval from my department and graduate college) as a digital humanities object. This will allow me to weave visual and written information together seamlessly, give readers multiple pathways through the project,  and provide an innovative means for feminist citational practice that will amplify the work of marginalized and underrepresented scholars.