I’ve known rivers

a journey through the academy in search of my language, voice and power


  • Michèle Foster University of Louisville




Black women, discourse, life history, narrative


This article examines the trajectory of a research programme focused on Black women’s language through the lived experiences of the investigator. Using rivers as a metaphor to structure the account, the article mines key incidents in the researcher’s life that have shaped her understanding of and approach to analysing Black women’s discourse.

Cet article examine la trajectoire d’un programme de recherche axé sur le langage des femmes noires à travers les expériences vécues de l’enquêteur. Utilisant les rivières comme métaphore pour structurer le récit, l’article explore des incidents clés dans la vie de la chercheuse qui ont façonné sa compréhension et son approche de l’analyse du discours des femmes noires.

Author Biography

Michèle Foster, University of Louisville

Michèle Foster is Professor and Henry Heuser Endowed Chair in Urban Education at the University of Louisville. Her research interests include the use of African American English (AAE) in society and schools, teaching academic writing to AAE-speaking students, sociolinguistic and ethnographic research particularly in educational settings and the social, historical and cultural contexts of African Americans. Her research, which includes the early book Black Teachers on Teaching (The New Press, 1998), has appeared in numerous journals and has also been featured in the popular press.


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How to Cite

Foster, M. (2021). I’ve known rivers: a journey through the academy in search of my language, voice and power. Gender and Language, 15(3), 403–413. https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.20881



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