Cultural Critique

Students engaging in classroom discussion

In the fall of 2019, students are learning how to be activists and experienced facilitators — and becoming published authors — in Insider/Outsider - The Genealogy of Black LGBT History, a class taught by Terrance Dean, a Consortium for Faculty Development Fellow and visiting professor.

“With this course, students will walk away with a tangible product, a published article, of which they can add to their resumes and CVs as they continue their academic journey and possibly pursue graduate school, or any career,” says Dean.

Dean is a writer, author, former MTV executive, and speaker. For this class, he draws upon his experience as a journalist. Dean has written for Huffington Post, VIBE Magazine, Essence Magazine, The Advocate, and The Tennessean.

“I was inspired by various ways to make my course a space for forward-thinking students who can push boundaries and engage in critical scholarship, while at the same time become bold and adventurous speakers and writers who challenge and engage in public discourse as enlightened young scholars,” he says.

Thanks to Dean’s connections, the class has a unique opportunity through a special partnership with Prizm magazine — an Ohio-based magazine focusing on connecting LGBTQ+ people to a statewide community.

If you walk into the room during a class, you might think that you had walked into a pizza party. Students laugh and bond while eating pizza, as they huddle in small groups around the classroom conference table, working on their soon-to-be-published opinion columns in Prizm.

“Students learn what it means to be in allyship and intentional community for those who are considered marginalized and oppressed. “

Throughout the semester, the student authors are responsible for addressing a major theme, idea, or thought. They put this in conversation with a larger issue that relates to the Black LGBT community, spanning such topics as celebrities, entertainment, art, literature, health, activism, education, law, HIV/AIDS, and social justice.

Each student also interacts with the Denison community through planning and facilitating events. For example, they organized a movie night and invited their Denison professors and peers to watch and stay for a student panel. Students take turns facilitating, planning, and being a part of a panel where they share the knowledge that they have learned in class. The goal is to promote the awareness of queer black topics.

The students are invested — not only because this work goes toward their class credit — but also because they believe in Dean’s mission.

“This class actually makes you want to read what he assigned,” Dana Phillips ‘20 says.

“Many classes sound good with the description and title,” says Hunter Lewis ‘20. “This class is different. This class has a purpose. It relates to pop culture.”

“They learn how to identify and discuss key events in the genealogy of Black LGBTQ history, resistance, and activism,” Dean says. “Students learn what it means to be in allyship and intentional community for those who are considered marginalized and oppressed. Their voices will be heard in a larger community and context.”

November 15, 2019