Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Joyce E. King

Second Advisor

Dr. Janice Fournillier

Third Advisor

Dr. Deirdre Cobb-Roberts

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Alessandra Raengo

Fifth Advisor

Dr. Deron Boyles


This research aims to identify what and how a university recognized for its success in educating Black students communicates to Black undergraduate students about student success, Blackness and Being by identifying and analyzing the visual discourse of student success policies and practices in this higher education setting. This study was framed theoretically within the Black Intellectual Tradition, using black aesthetics, a theoretical framework that provides the concepts and language (black fungibility, black (in)visibility, Blackness, and Being) to describe Black students’ meaning-making process. Building on existing student success research, policy, and practice, this study seeks to expand this knowledge base by asking: 1) How do Black undergraduate students at Georgia State University make meaning of how Blackness and Being function within the institution’s student success discourse, policy, and practices? 2) How do Blackness and Being function aesthetically within the student success discourse, policies, and practices of Georgia State University, a university branded for its success in educating Black students? 3) How do Blackness and Being function within Black undergraduate students’ definitions of student success at Georgia State University? This study employed Participatory Visual Methods and Critical Multimodal Discourse Analysis (CMDA). The data was composed of found images on the Georgia State University website and participatory assignments embedded within a gate-keeping education course (EDUC 2110), taught by the researcher that produced intertextual student data from selected class assignments. The findings of this Black Aesthetics CMDA illuminated a role for student voice and the potential usefulness of a Black Aesthetic Policy Analysis in examining the impacts of what policies and practices communicate visually.


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