[Updated] “Transdisciplinarity @ HBCUs: (Re)Writing Black Futures Beyond the Margin”

deadline for submissions: 
August 15, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Special Issue of the Journal of Multimodal Rhetorics (JMOR)
contact email: 

In “Where Would We Be? Legacies, Roll Calls, and the Teaching of Writing in HBCUs (2021),” Beverly Moss asserts that “Black rhetorical excellence has thrived at HBCUs. Pedagogical and scholarly creativity in the teaching of writing has excelled” (146). However, it is her critical question that anchors this proposal: “where would we, in composition studies, be without writing and rhetoric faculty who have taught or currently teach at HBCUs and/or scholars in the field who are alumni of HBCUs?” (145). The creation of the HBCU Symposium on Rhetoric and Composition in 2016 helped to bring some of these contributions from the margins into the center of conversations about the teaching of writing that happens on HBCU campuses across the country. While HBCU scholars’ contributions have been noted—even if only marginally—there remains little to no curiosity about the spaces in which they shape their knowledge.

Most recently, the Fourth HBCU Symposium on Rhetoric and Composition virtually gathered professors from historically Black institutions across a wide spectrum of disciplines to discuss their discursive practices as they attempt to prepare students to engage with writing within several contexts. The symposium deliberately moved beyond traditional English departments or writing programs to include historical and contemporary composition and rhetorical practices happening among disciplines, which has been essential to the preservation of HBCUs. Drawing on the success of that event, the proposed theme for this special issue, Transdisciplinarity @ HBCUs: (Re)Writing Our Futures Beyond the Margin, opens a space where we may focus on the critical consciousness and lifelong learning that permeates curriculum development in the sciences, mathematics, and other fields not readily associated with language and literature at HBCUs. 

Instantiations of cross-boundary interaction counter rigid disciplinary devotion. And, while teaching through COVID-19 has exacerbated other social and racial inequities, we see this moment as an opportunity to see transdisciplinarity at the center of the historical ingenuity formed out of oppression. For it is this ingenuity that propels HBCU communities beyond the marginal periphery into the epicenters of an uninhibited future. While the conversations on transdisciplinarity are not new to our field or HBCUs, this approach is essential for thriving beyond our ever-fluctuating learning environments. The various ways that Black scholars engage with and ask their students to engage with knowledge draws on a history of resilience that defines the past, present, and future state of what it means to teach at an HBCU. In sum, this collection “help[s] [the field] interrogate master narratives about literacy, race, and citizenship . . . in general and African American [Black] literac[ies] specifically” (Spencer-Maor 61) through its focus on the writing and rhetoric occurring at and because of HBCUs.  

Therefore, in this special issue we invite papers that see HBCU futures as inherently informing the liminal spaces where change takes place, where the imaginary sees the whole picture beyond the constraining strictures of disciplinary discourses in these historically Black spaces. These conversations are opportunities for productive transdisciplinarity to steer us towards what we envision our futures to be: in our words, on our terms. We invite scholars, instructors, and students at HBCUs currently, or who have studied at HBCUs previously, to submit their work. In addition to an introduction by the editors, this issue will include traditional articles (approx. 7000 words), short essays, course designs, book reviews, and multimodal works such as podcasts, art-based essays, webtexts, and creative nonfiction pieces that align with the theme. 

 Please send a 250-word abstract for the editors’ consideration before submitting your essay, course design, review, or multimodal work. We accept the following file formats: .doc, .docx, and .rtf. 


Possible themes include, but are not limited to: 

Critical Transdisciplinary Approaches 

Collaborative Teaching/Administration of Writing Across the Curriculum  

Reconsidering the Role of the First-Year Writing Courses for Non-Writing Departments 

Digital rhetoric and Mixed media in curriculum design 

Reimagining the Futures of Black Academic Discourse 

Writing as Relational, Positional, and Locational  

HBCU Writing Programs and Curricula 

Function of Writing Centers for the HBCU College Campus 

Rethinking and Retooling Technology in the Classroom During/After Covid-19 

Centering Black Voices in the Writing Classroom 

HBCU and African American History as Context  

Social Justice, Activism, and Community Building on the HBCU Campus 

Writing Programs and Black Feminist Rhetorical Practices  

Recovering the History of HBCU Approaches to Rhetoric and Composition  

Implementation of Black Rhetorical Traditions 

Writing, Language, and Social and Political Activist Movements 

Narratives of Influential Black Figures in Rhetoric and Composition  

Cultivation of Polyvocal Writing 

Reconsideration of Composition Practices for the 21st Century 

Proposed Timeline:  

August 15, 2022 – deadline for abstracts/proposals for contributions 

September 6, 2022– notification of acceptance 

November 18, 2022 – submission of accepted articles  

January 23, 2022 – revisions to accepted pieces due 

February 2023 – Proofing 

March-April, 2023 - Production 

May 2023 – publication 

Please submit questions and abstracts with the subject line “Transdisciplinarity@ HBCUs” to either Dr. Kendra Mitchell at kendra.mitchell@famu.edu, Dr. Kajsa Henry at kajsa.henry@famu.edu, or Dr. Tiffany Packer at tiffany.packer@famu.edu.