Hamline News

Professor Chepp's Book on Youth Activism and Spoken Word Available for Pre-order

Sociology and Social Justice Professor Valerie Chepp's book "Speaking Truths: Young Adults, Identity, and Spoken Word Activism" is now available for pre-order.

Drawing upon detailed observations and in-depth interviews, Chepp goes behind-the-scenes to uncover how spoken word poetry—and young people’s participation in it—contributes to a broader understanding of contemporary social justice activism, including this generation’s attention to the political importance of identity, well-being, and love.

Based on more than two years of ethnographic fieldwork, Chepp tells the story of a diverse group of young adults from Washington, D.C. who use spoken word to create a more just and equitable world. Weaving together their poetry and personally told stories, Chepp shows how poets tap into the beautiful, emotional, personal, and therapeutic features of spoken word to empathically connect with others, advance intersectional and systemic analyses of inequality, and make social justice messages relatable across a diverse public.

Chepp argues that spoken word activism is a product of, and a call to action against, the neoliberal era in which poets have come of age, characterized by widening structural inequalities and increasing economic and social vulnerability. She illustrates how this deeply personal and intimate activist approach borrows from, builds upon, and diverges from previous social movement paradigms. Spotlighting the complexity and mutual influence of modern-day activism and the world in which it unfolds, Speaking Truths contributes to our understanding of contemporary social change-making and how neoliberalism has shaped this political generation’s experiences with social injustice.