Jones_Tiffany_M_Prof PhotoWelcome visitor! My name is Tiffany Jones, and I am a PhD Candidate in the department of Anthropology the at University of South Carolina. My path to linguistic anthropology — as my CV shows — was a winding road. That said, I have always been a lover of language and culture in all of its forms.

After an internship led me back to graduate school for my Masters in Rhetoric and Composition, I discovered one of my greatest joys: teaching novice writers to wield the power of the pen. Through my tenure as an instructor of Composition, I found the need to advocate for linguistic (language) diversity in and outside of the classroom. So, I began focusing on African American Vernacular English, specifically its negative depiction in the media and resulting in-group resistance. This led me to obtain my Masters in Linguistics. However, this work proved to be very disheartening and demoralizing. And instead, I decided to focus on the positive perspective of African American Language (AAL) and its Verbal Art Traditions (VATs), which eventually pushed me towards pursuing a PhD in Anthropology.

That said, my Rhetoric and Composition background was not cast aside. In fact, it heavily informed my teaching practices as a Presidential Teaching Fellow for the Social Advocacy and Ethical Life (SAEL) program at UofSC. For three years, I led an intense seminar-style course that prompted students’ engagement with ethical theories while establishing their own platforms advocacy and producing speeches that would outline their social agenda. The best part of this class was exposing students of all disciplines to my research interests, including how to dissect any interaction and communicative act (e.g., conversation and performance) based on their socio-cultural, political, and, economic contexts.

Today, as one of the 2019-2020 recipients of Russell J. and Dorothy S. Fellowship, I am finalizing my dissertation based on long-term immersion in Washington D.C.’s Spoken Word poetry community. This research documents the interactive model of open mic culture while showcasing how local artists’ performances embody and preserve “Chocolate City” — i.e., a sense of home that is being threatened by gentrification. Overall, my long-term interests for advocacy research is to promote and produce inclusive pedagogies as well as create visual artifacts that showcase the richness of African American Language (AAL) and Verbal Arts Traditions and other performances for academic and public audiences.

Overall, I am very fortunate, as my work seamlessly blends my personal and professional identities and curiosities.