Pen-Full Resistance: Poetry, Power, and Persona




Kaya, Naliyah

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This dissertation explores the concepts of agency and structure in relation to the phenomenon of spoken word performance culture. Many have argued that the art form serves as a site of resistance for the disadvantaged self--those selves/identities that have traditionally been underrepresented, marginalized and/or oppressed; however, some would question if this cultural medium--largely dismissed and denigrated by the gatekeepers of society--can effectively address the causes of inequality so frequently referenced by poets. Guided by the overarching question of how and why disadvantaged selves use the arts to define and address inequality and social problems, this dissertation seeks to answer the following questions: What themes emerge overall in spoken word performance poetry? What types of public selves are exhibited or described by performers, and which social problems/topics are these selves connected to?


This work was embargoed by the author and will not be publicly available until May 2020.


Culture, Performance art, Poetry, Slam, Sociology, Spoken word