Lauren Leigh Kelly

Lauren Leigh Kelly is an Assistant Professor in the Urban Social Justice Teacher Education program at Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Education. She is also the founder of the annual Hip Hop Youth Research and Activism Conference. Kelly taught high school English for ten years in New York where she developed courses in Hip Hop Literature and Culture, Spoken Word poetry, and Theatre Arts. Kelly received her Ph.D. in English Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research focuses on critical media literacy as a lens through which young people can better understand, navigate, and influence their social and cultural environments.

Her workshop, Exploring History, Geography, and Culture through Hip Hop Lit Circles, supports the development of Hip Hop literacies as well as sociohistorical understandings of cultures and communities through the examination of Hip Hop narratives in rap lyrics. Participants will work in groups to read diverse Hip Hop narratives rooted in particular times geographic locations. Using internet resources, each group will research the locations referenced in the songs and discuss the social, historical, and lyrical significance of this place both within and outside of Hip Hop culture, including local knowledge. We will also explore the relationship between time and these locations. Through research, geographic mapping, critical reading, and discussion, participants will work collaboratively to contextualize the authors and narratives of these Hip Hop texts through understandings of the histories, cultures, people, and locations that are embedded in them.

Solange & Seeing What We Imagine: Building compassionate spaces for learning, leadership, and critical self-reflection will explore identity, perspective, story-telling, and how all of these come into play when building brave and compassionate spaces for students and faculty.