David E. Kirkland

Associate Professor of English Education

David E. Kirkland

Phone: 212-998-7391

Curriculum Vitae/Syllabi

David E. Kirkland is a transdisciplinary scholar of English and urban education, who explores the intersections among urban youth culture, language and literacy, urban teacher preparation, and digital media. He analyzes culture, language, and texts, and has expertise in critical literary, ethnographic, and sociolinguistic research methods. He has received many awards for his work, including the 2008 AERA Division G Outstanding Dissertation Award and was a 2009-10 Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow and is a former fellow of NCTE' Cultivating New Voices. Dr. Kirkland has published widely. His most recent articles include: Black Skin, White Masks: Normalizing Whiteness and the Trouble with the Achievement Gap (TCRecord), English(es) in urban contexts: Politics, Pluralism, and Possibilities (English Education), and We real cool: Examining Black males and literacy (Reading Research Quarterly). He is currently completing his fourth book, A Search Past Silence, to be published through Teacher College Press Language and Literacy Series. Dr. Kirkland believes that, in their language and literacies, youth take on new meanings beginning with a voice and verb, where words when spoken or written have the power to transform the world inside-out.

Office Hours Fall 2010

Physical Hours

  • Tuesdays 4 pm - 6 pm, Room 774 Pless Hall
  •  (and by appt.)

Digital Hours

  •  Wednesday 4 pm - 6 pm @
  • Join me on AIM (DrKirkland); Yahoo! or Windows Live (kirklan4); Skype or Google Talk (davidekirkland)

English is . . . Hip Hop and Def Poetry.

Selected Presentations

  • Kirkland, D. (April, 2009). Politics in the Place of Inscription: What Urban Youth Write Without Writing. Presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Diego, CA.
  • Kirkland, D. (April, 2009). The Writing on the Wall: Examining Digital Dialogue in Facebook. Presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Diego, CA.
  • Kirkland, D. (March, 2009). Hip Hop Loves You: The New Rhetoric of Urban Youth. Presented at the annual meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication, San Diego, CA.
  • Please see CV for complete list of presentations.


  • 2009 : Ford Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellowship
  • 2008 : AERA Division G Dissertation Award
  • 2007 : Finalist-CCCC Outstanding Dissertation Award
  • 2007 : Finalist-Spencer Foundation Exemplary Dissertation Award
  • 2006 : CNV Fellowship
  • 2006 : Summer Completion Fellowship Award
  • 2005 : AERA/IES Grant
  • 2005 : Black Graduate Student Association Award in Scholarhip
  • 2004 : Scholars for the Dream Travel Award
  • 2004 : Spencer Foundation Research Training Grant
  • 2003 : Dean's Competitive Enrichment Summer Fellowship Award
  • 2002 : Summer Enrichment Fellowship Award
  • 2001 : Competitive Doctoral Enrichment Fellowship Award
  • 2000 : Mid-Michigan Teacher of the Year

English is . . . the soul, spoken.

Professional Service (selected)

  • 2008-Present: Section Co-Chair, AERA Division K, Section 2
  • 2008-Present: Co-Chair, NCTE Conference on English Education Commission on Social Justice
  • 2008-Present: Acting Chair, NCTE/CCCC Black Caucus Communications Committee 
  • 2007-Present: Editorial Board Member, Research in the Teaching of English
  • 2006-2008: NCTE Annual Conference Program Planning Committee (Rainbow Strand)
  • 2004-2008: Member, NCTE Conference on English Education Commission on Social Justice
  • 2002-Present: Member, NCTE/CCCC Black Caucus
  • 2006: Conference on College Composition and Communication Scholars for the Dream Travel Award Selection Committee
  • 2004-2006: Member, Michigan Department of Education Bias Committee
  • Please refer to CV for complete list of service.

Degrees Held

  • Ph.D. Michigan State University 2006
    Language, Literacy, and Urban Education

Selected Publications

  • Kirkland, D. & Hull, G. (in press). Literacy out-of-school: A review of research on programs and practices. In M. L. Kamil, P. D. Pearson, E. B. Moje, & P. Afflerbach (Eds.), Handbook of Reading Research, Vol. IV. New York: Erlbaum/Taylor & Francis.
  • Kirkland, D. (in press). “Something to brag about”: Black males, literacy, and teacher education. In A. Ball, & C. Tyson (Eds.), Studying Diversity in Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume III. Washington, DC: AERA.
  • Paris, D., & Kirkland, D. (in press). Understanding “the consciousness of the verbal artist”: The work of vernacular literacies in digital and embodied spaces. In V. Kinloch (Ed.), Critical Perspectives on Education in Urban Settings. New York: Teachers College Press.
  • Miller, s.j., & Kirkland, D. (eds.). (forthcoming, fall 2010). Change Matters: Moving social justice from theory to policy in language and literacy education. New York: Peter Lang. (in press)
  • Kirkland, D. (August, 2010). “Black Skin, White Masks”: Normalizing Whiteness and the Trouble with the Achievement Gap. Teachers College Record, http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?ContentId=16116. (link)
  • Kirkland, D. (2010). 4 Colored Girls Who Considered Social Networking When Suicide Wasn’t Enuf: Exploring the Literate Lives of Young Black Women in Online Social Communities. In D. Alvermann (Ed.), Adolescents’ Online Literacies: Connecting Classrooms, Media, and Paradigms, pp. 71-90. New York: Peter Lang.
  • Kirkland, D. (April, 2010). English(es) in urban contexts: Politics, Pluralism, and Possibilities. English Education, 42(3), pp. 293-306. (view)
  • Kirkland, D. (April, 2010). Editor’s Introduction: Teaching English in a sea of change: Linguistic pluralism and the new English education. English Education. (view)
  • Kirkland, D. (ed.) (April, 2010). English Education as Language Education. (Themed issue for English Education.)
  • Kirkland, D., & Gilyard, K. (2009). Conversation with David E. Kirkland. In K. Gilyard & V. E. Taylor (Eds.), Conversations in Cultural Rhetoric and Composition, pp. 223-243. The Davies Group Publishers. (view)
  • Kirkland, D. (August, 2009). Researching and teaching English in the digital dimension. Research in the Teaching of English, 44(1), pp. 8-22. (view)
  • Kirkland, D. (July, 2009). Skins we ink: Conceptualizing literacy as human practice. English Education, 41 (4), pp. 375-395. (view)
  • Kirkland, D. (July, 2009). We real cool: Toward a theory of Black masculine literacies. Reading Research Quarterly, 44(3), pp. 278-297. (view)
  • Kirkland, D. (2009). Shaping the digital pen: Media literacy, youth culture, and Myspace. Youth Media Reporter, pp. 188-200.
  • Kirkland, D., & Jackson, A. (2008). Beyond the Silence: Instructional Approaches and Students' Attitudes, pp. 160-180. In J. Scott, D. Y. Straker, & L. Katz (eds.), Affirming Students' Right to Their Own Language: Bridging Educational Policies and Language/Language Arts Teaching Practices. Champagne/Urbana, IL: NCTE/LEA.
  • Kirkland, D. (2008). "The Rose that Grew From Concrete": Hip Hop and the New English Education. The English Journal, 97 (5), pp. 69-75. (view)
  • Miller, s. j., Beliveau, L. B., Kirkland, D., Rice, P., & Destigter, T. (2008). Narratives of Social Justice Teaching: How English Teachers Negotiate Theory and Practice between Preservice and Inservice Spaces. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.
  • Please see attached CV for complete list of publications, presentations, and courses taught (view)
  • Zhao, Y., Zhang, G., Yang, W., Kirkland, D., Han, X., & Zhang, J. (2008). A comparative study of educational research in China and the U.S. Asian Pacific Journal of Education, 28 (1), pp. 1-17. (view)
  • Kirkland, D. (2008). "You must learn": Promoting hip-hop in education. Youth Media Reporter, 2 (3), pp. 42-46.
  • Zhao, Y., Kirkland, D., & Lustick, D. (2007). Introduction. In Y. Zhao, D. Lustick, & W. Yang (eds.), Government, assessment and accountability in the United States: A primer for Chinese educational leaders. Shanghai: East China Normal University Press. English version is also available at: (link)
  • Kirkland, D. (2007). The Power of Their Text: Teaching Hip Hop in the Secondary English Classroom. In K. Keaton & P. R. Schmidt (eds.), Closing the Gap: English Educators Address the Tensions between Teacher Preparation and Teaching Writing in Secondary Schools. Language, Literacy, and Learning Series for Information Age Publishing, pp. 129-145. (view)
  • Kirkland, D. (2007). Foreword. In M. Diaz & M. Runnell (eds.), Hip Hop Education Guidebook, Volume One. New York: Hip Hop Association.
  • Kirkland, D. (2006). The Boys in the Hood: Exploring literacy in the lives of Six Urban Adolescent Black Males. Unpublished Dissertation, Michigan State University, East Lansing.
  • Kirkland, D. (2004). Rewriting School: Critical Writing Pedagogies for the Secondary English Classroom. Journal of Teaching of Writing 21(1&2), pp. 83-96. (view)
  • Kirkland, D., Robinson, J, Jackson, A., & Smitherman, G. (2004). From "The Lower Economic": Three Young Brothas and an Old School Womanist Respond to Dr. Bill Cosby. The Black Scholar, 34(4), pp. 10-15. (view)
  • Kirkland, D., Jackson, A., & Smitherman, G. (March/April 2001). Leroy, Big D, and Big Daddy Speakin Ebonics on the Internet. American Language Review, pp. 22-26.

At NYU, we are rethinking English education to suit the needs of today in order to prepare the teachers of tomorrow!

Word Life: A Performance and Conversation on Language, Identity and Power from NYU Steinhardt on Vimeo.


  • ENGED-GE 2045 - Hip Hop and the Teaching of English 
  • ENGED-UE 1030 - Literature Seminar for English Education
  • ENGED-UE 1589 - Teaching English in a Multidialectal Society 
  • ENGED-GE 2049 - Teaching English in the Inner City 
  • ENGED-GE 2515 - Linguistics, Society and the Teacher
  • ENGED-GE 2577 - Pluralistic Approaches to Cultural Literacy 

Research Projects (Most Recent)

“4 Colored Girls” Project

This research explores the storied lives of a group young Black females as recorder in their online social contexts.  Over the course of a year, I examined the representational and situational resources that the young women used to tell their specific stories online.  Using critical ethnographic and discourse approaches, I illustrate how such narratives do not exist in a neutral female-friendly space.  That is, online social communities can be seen as contested sites, layered in the same complexities that constitute the physical and historical geographies in which they are embedded.  Hence, the semiotic and symbolic relations of Black feminine iDentity (digital identity) that sometimes get traded to serve perverse and patriarchical pleasures are dangerous when left unexplored. (more)

Digital Underground Project

The Digital Underground Project sought to examine the language and literacy practices of urban youth in online social contexts (e.g., Facebook, MySpace, blogs, wikis, etc.). The project sought to address two questions: (1) Will understanding the ways that urban youth use digital media to practice literacy extend New Literacy Studies (Gee, 1996; New London Group, 1996; Street, 1984, 1995) and reshape our understanding of literacy learning among urban youth?  (2) Will it help educators develop curricula and pedagogies capable of transforming academic literacy achievement in urban contexts?  To answer these questions, I observed a group of youth in a community center in Brooklyn, NY twice a week for one school year, from September 2007 to June 2008.  Data included fieldnotes based on my observations, recorded conversations with participants, and digital textual artifacts (e.g., text messages, instant messages, Facebook and MySpace profiles, etc).  Data was interpreted over the course of a year to “ground” a theory of digital literacy that grows out of or that is directly relevant to understanding the role of new media in the literate lives of urban youth. (more )

The Boys in the Hood Project

The “Boys in the Hood” (BIH) project was a three-year ethnographic study, which examined literacy as it was practiced among a group of young Black men in a large Midwestern city.  Its purpose was to broaden understandings of literacy by helping researchers better understand literacy in the lives of urban adolescent Black males.  The research was guided by the following questions: How is literacy defined among urban adolescent Black males, and what purposes does it serve across multiple social spaces in their lives?  Hence, by analyzing discourse—the “socially accepted association among ways of using language, of thinking, and of acting that can be used to identify oneself as a member of a socially meaningful group or social network” (Gee, 1991)—this work profiled by documenting and describing literacy between the achievement gap as successfully practiced by six urban adolescent Black males. (more

“My Brother’s Keeper” Project

The My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) project, in conjunction with Michigan State University’s African American Language and Literacy Program, explored issues of language, literacy, and identity among a group of adolescent Black males in Detroit, MI.  This work sought to understand how the young men of MBK viewed themselves in relation to language and literacy, as larger social and political structures influenced their subjectivities.  While the term subjectivity has a variety of histories, it is used here to represent the young men’s ability to (or degree to which they) imagined and shaped their lives.  The project has offered a number of findings in relation to youth subjectivity, which have presented at three conferences (Kirkland, 2002, 2005, 2008). This work also comprises two book chapters and two journal articles.  Each of these papers feature the unique ways in which young Black men practice literacy.  They also help to illustrate a Black masculine school experience, which can be described as both tragic and hopeful.  This experience is movingly articulating in the manuscript “A Lesson Before Dying: Reading in the Whispers,” which has been recently submitted for publication.

Areas of Interest (in alphabetical order)

  1. African American Studies in Education
  2. Critical & Cultural Studies in Education
  3. Qualitative Research Methods/Methodologies in the Social Sciences and Humanities (Critical Literary/Cultural Analysis/Criticism, Critical Discourse Analysis, Ethnographies of Discourse, and Critical Ethnography)
  4. Secondary English Education/Adolescent Literacy /Composition Studies
  5. Urban Education and Teacher Preparation