In January 2020, Dr. Epps-Robertson presented a paper titled, “A Global ARMYof HOPE: BTS and a Pedagogy for Global Citizenship,” at the first BTS Interdisciplinary Global Conference at Kingston University. This paper is part of new research that examines connections between public pedagogies, literacy, the rhetorical construction of gloabl citizenship education, and transnationalism.
There is a long-standing association between art and the ability to inspire and institute change. Recently, BTS has gained international recognition for such abilities as artists. BTS is sharing and supporting a type of global citizenship that spreads hope, transcends borders, and encourages listeners to do good for the world. In 2018, BTS addressed the United Nations and lent their support to launch Generation Unlimited with UNICEF. BTS’s fandom, ARMY, take grassroot actions to promote awareness on environmental issues, bullying, and other concerns. This presenter will discuss why BTS’s popularity and influence is important to examine at this particular historical moment. Given the tenuous state of global citizenship, BTS and their ARMY fandom are pushing against borders. This presentation offers one response in that BTS, through their music, music videos, appearances, and online discourse, is providing their fandom a pedagogy of global citizenship. Building upon scholarship on BTS and art (Lee, 2019), fandom studies (Potts et. al, 2018; Jenkins, 1992), citizenship studies (Langran and Birk, 2016; Isin, 2017) and rhetorical theory on citizenship and engagement (Abdi, 2015; Bitzer, 1968; Kock and Villadsen, 2017) I argue that given the current socio-political moment, BTS provides their fandom a model of how to enact a global citizenship of hope that spans both online and offline communities.
Image Description: Purple ARMY bombs (light sticks) being held up during the BTS Love Yourself Tour. Image Attributed to: Chris Belison Distributed under: CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)
Representative Published Work
Dr. Epps-Robertson’s first book, Resisting Brown: Race, Literacy, and Citizenship in the Heart of Virginia, examines the literacy program of the Prince Edward County Free School Association (Free School). After the Brown vs. Board of Education rulings (1954, 1955) many localities in American resisted integration. Prince Edward County, Virginia was one of the most extreme. Rather than fund integrated schools, the county’s board of supervisors closed public schools from 1959-1964. The Free School stood as one response to the closures. Drawing upon extensive archival research and interviews with former students, Epps-Robertson analyzes public discourse that supported the school closures as an effort and manifestation of citizenship and demonstrates how the establishment of the Free School can be seen as a rhetorical response to racist ideologies. The school’s mission statements, philosophies, and commitment to literacy served as arguments against racialized constructions of citizenship. Princ Edward County stands as a microcosm of America’s struggle with race, literacy, and citizenship.
“Writing with your family at the kitchen table: Balancing Home and Academic Communities.” Praxis: A Writing Center Journal, Vol 14, No 1, (2016).
“The Race to Erase Brown vs. Board of Education: The Virginia Way and the Rhetoric of Massive Resistance.” Rhetoric Review 35: 2 (2016): 108-120. Print. *Winner of the 2016 Therese J. Enos Award for Best Article in Rhetoric Review
“Teaching Must Be Our Demonstration!:” Literacy, Citizenship, and Activism in the Prince Edward County Free School Association, 1963-1964” Literacy in Composition Studies (Spring 2015)
“Massive Resistance and Harry F. Byrd” ~ A guest blog post for The Blog of The Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library (University of Virginia)