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My name is Joycelyn Wilson. I am an Assistant Professor of Black Media Studies and Educational Anthropologist in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication (LMC) at Georgia Tech. I began my position at Georgia Tech in 2016-2017 as a Fellow in LMC’s Digital Integrative Liberal Arts Center (DILAC). I received my BS in Mathematics and my PhD in Educational Anthropology from the University of Georgia. My Masters of Arts in curriculum and instruction is from Pepperdine University. As a scholar, I identify as an ethnographic and qualitative researcher of the Hip Hop generation. I study the educational practices and cultural traditions of Southern communities of color from the perspective of a Black woman who was raised after the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 and during the formative years of the Hip Hop movement. My academic research broadly crosses three fields: Schooling in the American South, Southern Hip Hop Studies, and African American Culture. The specific topics include African American music and performance; African American education in the South; culture, race, and technology in Atlanta; oral history and storytelling; learning sciences and design; pop culture, Hip Hop in higher ed, and justice-oriented humanities instruction in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics).
Since entering the teaching profession in 1997 as a high school math teacher, I have continued to interrogate ways to solve critical issues of schooling through the design of culturally-resilient educational technologies across K-12 policy and curriculum. I advanced this mission to higher education in 2007 when I entered the academic profession as a Scholar of Hip Hop Studies in the Leadership Center at Morehouse College. The last 20 years of my scholarship and community outreach have continued to ask questions about the intersectionality of Black expressive traditions in the South – Atlanta specifically – with issues of civic engagement, race and politics, and STEAM influencers. Because I am most excited about how these traditions mesh with new technologies, I have developed lines of research in archival and educational gaming, augmented realities, interactive narrative, and digital pedagogy.
Before landing at Georgia Tech, I held a faculty position in the Faculty of Learning Sciences and Technologies at Virginia Tech, and affiliate faculty status in its Africana Studies Program and Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT). I am also an alumni fellow of the Harvard Hiphop Archive, and the Founding Co-Chair of the Hip Hop Theories, Pedagogies, and Praxis Special Interest Group for the American Educational Research Association (AERA).
I love what I do! I am a pioneer of Hip Hop education as a practice and as a pedagogy as well as an early theoretician of Southern Hip Hop Studies. My career began in a high school math classroom where I decided to use my southern Hip Hop sensibilities to teach Algebra and my love for the rap music duo OUTKAST to manage what was a racially and economically-diverse learning environment. I’ve been writing and producing content that integrates the music and ideologies of OUTKAST since 1997, which include my published dissertation Outkast’d and Claimin True: The Language of Schooling in Southern Hip Hop. As an emerging learning design scholar in culture, media, and technology studies, my courses are some of the most popular taught at colleges and universities. “Engaging the Lyrics of Outkast and Trap Music to Explore Politics of Social Justice”, was featured throughout local, national, and international media outlets including NPR. I have also given a TEDx Talk called “The Outkast Imagination” and the author of the empowerment series 30 Days of Outkast.
Since then, I have oriented by work in studying ways to archive these techniques for open access consumption. My research is therefore uniquely oriented to culturally-resilient design strategies that leverage African American expressive traditions and digital mediations as a tool for enhancing the social justice/civic engagement capacities and critical media literacies of secondary and post-secondary influencers.
I disseminate my work through both the public/popular space as well as the academic/intellectual one – book chapters, journal articles, documentary film, and online. I am currently completing the first of two manuscripts on Hip Hop culture, Atlanta, and pedagogical innovation. I have spoken on numerous panels and has contributed commentary to The Root, NewsOne, HuffPost Live, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and CNN. My pop culture commentary has been featured in publications such as ArtsATL, FADER and XXL. Currently, I have focused my love for “message music”, southern culture, and the digital as a contributor to The Bitter Southerner. One of my essays was referenced by The New York Times.
I have also developed lines of research in interactive narrative as the founder of the Four Four Beat Labs, a digital pedagogies incubator focused on expanding traditional perspectives of “the classroom” space. That is, how it looks, where it happens, the archival resources used, and what happens in it when technological innovation meets pedagogical sensibility. The projects, such as the HipHop2020 Curriculum Project, are guided by design principles that utilize the storied meanings of cultural artifacts to buildout learning spaces, publish content in an open-access way, and implement installations across analog, digital, and augmented platforms.
I have taken my mission on the road as well, lecturing at Emory University’s Center for Digital Scholarship, Brock University’s Digital Pedagogy Institute, Kansas State, Morehouse College, Occidental College, Harvard, Yale, and other institutions. As part of the movement to usher Hip Hop culture into campus culture, I am responsible for bringing artists such as Big Boi from Outkast, Killer Mike, David Banner, TI, Lupe Fiasco, and DJ Drama to the higher ed classroom. I have sat on numerous panels and my commentary has appeared on The Root, NewsOne, HuffPost Live, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and ArtsATL. Ava DuVernay, director of the movie Selma, gave me my first feature in her BET documentary My Mic Sounds Nice: The Truth About Women in Hip Hop . Since then, I’ve provided insight on VH1’s ATL: The Untold Story of Atlanta’s Rise in the Rap Game, and along with civil rights leader Andrew Young, I co-produced the Emmy-winning documentary Walking With Guns. Helping produce this film afforded me the opportunity to feature rapper/actor Clifford “TI” Harris, Jr. and Grammy-winning rapper/activist Michael “Killer Mike” Render. Through their stories of hope and redemption, they highlighted contemporary challenges of gun violence. I currently use the film to teach my graduate students about ethics when collecting personal stories for research purposes. Many of my music reviews and features are archived here as I’ve written for FADER, XXL, The Source, and wax poetics.
Hobbies? Yes! I love traveling and reading fashion and lifestyle magazines. I like to work out. And I enjoy having provocative conversations with people about ideas that elevate their social justice conscience. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @thedrjoyce. Find my formal bio here.