Youth-Nex Talk: A Future for Black Youth’s Stories in Schools

Sep 30, 2022 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM

Dr. Stephanie Toliver from the University of Colorado Boulder will give a talk on “Endarkened Storywork, or A Future for Black Youth’s Stories in Schools” on Friday September 30that 11 AM in Holloway Hall, Bavaro Hall. This is an in-person event.

There is a graduate student meeting with the speaker after the talk that students are encouraged to attend--for more information or to sign up, please email

Talk Abstract: Storytelling is an essential component of Black existence, a component so integral to life that many African nations had their own storytellers, or griots, who acted as teachers, genealogists, historians, and praise-singers. African griots were responsible for cultivating their verbal artistry, but they were also in charge of completing various tasks that fostered intergenerational connections and encouraged the remembrance of people’s histories, communities, and homelands. By collecting, analyzing, and synthesizing the stories they gathered, griots were the scholars of their nations. These storytelling traditions traveled past the door of no return and across oceans to reach the land now called the United States. They passed from generation to generation and continued to teach, to heal, and to bring life despite enslavement, Jim Crow, and state-sanctioned violence. Therefore, storytelling is not a luxury for Black people, it is vital to our very existence. Nevertheless, the field of education has collectively failed to (re)member this history and chosen to keep this sacred practice from the forefront of schools and classrooms. Those stories that do enter education spaces are often told from the perspectives of adults, not young people. Considering the neglect of Black youth’s stories in schools, Toliver presents Endarkened Storywork as a new possibility for teaching and learning, one that hinges on Black storytelling traditions and honors alternative writing practices in schools.

Speaker Bio: Stephanie R. Toliver is an assistant professor of Literacy and Secondary Humanities at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She earned her PhD in Language and Literacy Education from the University of Georgia and was a 2019 NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellow. Informed by her love of science fiction and fantasy texts as well as her experience as a 9th and 10th grade English teacher, Toliver’s scholarship centers the freedom dreams of Black youth and honors the historical legacy that Black imaginations have had and will have on activism and social change. Specifically, she focuses on representations of and responses to Black youth in speculative fiction texts to discuss the implications of erasing Black children from futuristic and imaginative contexts and to assist teachers in imagining how classrooms can use speculative fiction as a means to center Black joy and Black dreams. She is the author of Recovering Black Storytelling in Qualitative Research: Endarkened Storywork, and her academic work has been published in several journals, including Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, Journal of Literacy Research, and Research in the Teaching of English. Her public scholarship has been featured on LitHub, Huffpost, and the Horn Book.

Co-Sponsored by Youth-Nex, the the Education Research Lectureship Series, the Cooper Speaker Series and the Center for Race & Public Education in the South (CRPES).