[Updated] “Transdisciplinarity @ HBCUs: (Re)Writing Black Futures Beyond the Margin”
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, Dr. Kajsa Henry at email@example.com, or Dr. Tiffany Packer at firstname.lastname@example.org.