Francis Gourrier

Antioch College
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00:00:25 - Professor Gourrier introduces himself

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Segment Synopsis: Prof. Francis (Frankie) Gourrier, class of 2008, is from New Orleans and currently teaches in the History and American Studies departments.

00:01:42 - First interactions with academic programs at Kenyon

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Segment Synopsis: Prof. Gourrier was not initially interested in the humanities and decided to explore other classes because he could not enroll in Introductory Psychology. Wanted to be an International Studies major. Was encouraged to explore other courses by his academic advisor, Prof. Marla Kohlman.

00:03:50 - Prof. Glenn McNair's Contemporary African American history

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Segment Synopsis: After Prof. Marla Kohlman encouraged him to branch out, Prof. Gourrier enrolled in Prof. McNair's course. He reflects on how impactful the class was.

00:04:31 - Being a "thinker"

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Segment Synopsis: Prof. Gourrier reflects on the Contemporary African American history course as a point where he realized he wanted to be a critical thinker with a course of study tailored to his interest in African American history.

00:05:34 - Initial encounters with African American history

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Segment Synopsis: No exposure in high school, but learned African American history through television programming. Was passionate about justice and claims for justice within African American history.

00:06:25 - Planning for courses: American Studies major and African and African American Studies (AAAS) concentration

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Segment Synopsis: Went home and planned his course of study with American Studies major in mind, one of his last memories at his house in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina. Was not yet committed to African and African American Studies concentration.

00:07:28 - AAAS program as a concentration, not a major

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Segment Synopsis: Prof. Gourrier explains what a concentration (interdisciplinary minor) is versus a major (within one academic department).

00:08:40 - Decision to concentrate in AAAS

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Segment Synopsis: Decides on concentration sophomore year (2005-'06). First factor in this decision was wanting to take as many classes with Black professors as possible. Decided to take class with Prof. Mason, who was offering Introduction to African and African American Studies. At the time, there were four tenured Black professors (Prof. Ric Sheffield, Prof. Ted Mason, Prof. Ted Mason, and Prof. Glenn McNair).

00:11:31 - Experience in study abroad program in Brazil

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Segment Synopsis: Second part of deciding to concentrate was his experience in learning about diasporic identities in the SIT Brazil: Culture, Development, and Social Justice program in Northeastern part of the nation.

00:13:06 - Understanding the African diaspora outside of the U.S.

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Segment Synopsis: Consulted with Prof. Kohlman about courses in study abroad program that would count toward African and African American Studies concentration. His experiences in Brazil made him seriously consider the African diaspora outside of the U.S. and prepared him to take Introduction to African and African American Studies with Prof. Mason.

00:14:40 - Returning to Kenyon and learning about intersectionality

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Segment Synopsis: Within SIT program, Prof. Gourrier conducted a research project that considered race and class. Prof. Kohlman later introduced him to the term "intersectionality" to describe the research he wanted to do.

00:15:39 - Race, class, and gender as academic pursuits

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Segment Synopsis: Prof. Gourrier added gender to his analysis of race and class (intersectionality) and decided to pursue these topics in his remaining coursework at Kenyon. In order to do this, took a Sociology course with Prof. Allison Hurst on Class Studies in the Law. Also, Introduction to Sociology with Prof. Kohlman.

00:18:01 - Name change from African and African American Studies to African Diaspora Studies (AFDS) program

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Segment Synopsis: Prof. Gourrier recounts Prof. Kohlman wanting to change the name of the program to more accurately reflect its aims in 2005. Name changed in 2009.

00:18:35 - African history within the program

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Segment Synopsis: Wishes he had started African history earlier. Took courses with Prof. Stephen Volz.

00:19:07 - Crossroads film series

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Segment Synopsis: When Prof. Gourrier was a student, faculty and students gathered monthly to watch Sidney Poitier films. Was an environment where students and faculty discussed together, not a panel structure. Professors who were involved in African and African American Studies and/or the Crossroads faculty group.

00:20:19 - Crossroads conference highlighting student work

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Segment Synopsis: Professors encouraged students interested in African diaspora to write a paper and present it at a small conference on campus. Had written a paper about rapper, Flavor Flav.

00:21:56 - Wanting to be a professor

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Segment Synopsis: Prof. McNair's encouragement in the Contemporary Black History course and the Crossroads conference contributed to his desire to be a professor. Realized that being vulnerable and sharing work was part of the profession.

00:22:34 - Being respected as a peer

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Segment Synopsis: Felt like the Crossroads conference contributed to the sense of being a peer as part of an academic discussion and community.

00:24:28 - White majority, involvement in the Black Student Union (BSU), and awareness of past calls for diversifying Kenyon

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Segment Synopsis: In conversations with founding member of BSU, Eugene Peterson, Class of 1970, became aware of the history of the organization. The founding statement (1969) of BSU had calls for a Black Studies program. Prof. Gourrier saw his academic pursuits as the product of others' work and a larger mission of change.

00:28:50 - Transition to teaching at Kenyon

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Segment Synopsis: Was taught by a Marilyn Yarbrough Dissertation fellow during his time at Kenyon (Prof. Sarah Kaplan). Knew he wanted to do that and applied in 2016. Presented his research on campus in same room he presented for Crossroads in as part of his interview. Started at Kenyon in 2016-'17 school year.

00:32:43 - Courses taught by Prof. Gourrier in his first year as a professor at Kenyon

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Segment Synopsis: Taught Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Civil Rights Movement, and another course on the Great Migration in connection with the development of Black student organization in the 1960s. Joy of the classroom paralleled his experience at Kenyon as a student.

00:34:04 - Returned as visiting instructor for 2017-'18 year

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Segment Synopsis: Currently team teaching Introduction to American Studies with Prof. Peter Rutkoff and another course, Blacks in the Age of Jim Crow. Also teaching special topic course, Race, Education, and Student Rebellion, which explores topics he engaged with as an undergraduate.

00:36:02 - Past teaching experience

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Segment Synopsis: Recounts his experience instructing in University of Wisconsin Madison and in public middle schools.

00:37:39 - Pedagogical strengths of previous teachers as examples used by Prof. Gourrier

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Segment Synopsis: Always thinking about past instructor's strengths, specifically the affirmation and questioning model used by Prof. Pamela Jensen, who taught Prof. Gourrier African American Political Theory his junior year at Kenyon.

00:39:17 - Changes in academic engagement

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Segment Synopsis: Prof. Gourrier laments students no longer be able to engage with Crossroads conference or film series. There is still a Crossroads course, team-taught by professors, which allows for taste of African Diaspora scholarships by professors.

00:41:27 - Students can no longer engage with discipline and professors collectively

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Segment Synopsis: Prof. Gourrier thinks students no longer have the opportunity to collectively think and talk about the African diaspora. Felt like there was a "cohort" engaging with African Diaspora Studies program together when he was a student at Kenyon.

00:43:26 - Connection to BSU's demands

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Segment Synopsis: Prof. Gourrier sees his experience in the African and African American Studies program as what the founders of BSU envisioned. He also desires to see the program's work done on a larger scale (more Black faculty, more Black Studies courses) and to regain the sense of collectivity ("doing it together") that he experienced during his time at Kenyon.

00:44:21 - Prof. Gourrier speculates a lack of interest in the AFDS program

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Segment Synopsis: Prof. Gourrier reflects on dwindling numbers of students interested in the humanities.

00:45:08 - Interdisciplinary strengths of the AFDS program

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Segment Synopsis: African Diaspora Studies reflects the mission of the liberal arts education by tying together different academic disciplines. Builds intellectual curiosity and critical thinking.

00:47:21 - This oral history project as an opportunity to rethink AFDS program

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Segment Synopsis: Prof. Gourrier hopes this project will be a historical document and source of research for faculty and administrators to think and re-think the program.