Penn State

Wanda B. Knight - associate professor of art education, Penn State University Park

Book Title: I know why the caged bird sings

Author: Maya Angelou

Book Description:

I chose I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou, because the metaphor of the caged bird is one that resonated with me in my quest for promotion and tenure, while Maya Angelou's ability to overcome some of life's major struggles served as a source of inspiration.

As a neophyte to academe, the promotion and tenure process was a coming-of-age journey for me as a female scholar of color in a major research-oriented university. As one not of the dominant culture, I felt as though the power of institutional social structures and norms hampered my ability to find my voice amidst the framework of the promotion and tenure process—the rules, practices, norms, and discourses which privileged certain forms of research, teaching, and service over others.

Nevertheless, despite professional and personal difficulties and setbacks, including the loss of my father, I was able to keep a positive attitude and outlook, while maintaining steady and continued action toward my research, teaching, and service goals. Not only did I find my voice and hit my stride, in academe, in the process, now "I believe I can fly."

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