Coalition for Community Writing
Zoom Lecture Series

The CCW Lecture Series is designed to provide opportunities for programs and departments to engage in discussions on the praxis of community writing. Each lecture will occur through Zoom and cost $300 per lecture. All proceeds from the Lecture series are used to support CCW’s staff and programming. To schedule a lecture or to suggest a topic/speaker, please contact CCW Director Veronica House at

Steven Alvarez, St. John’s University

Confidence in Community Literacies: Bilingual Writers Reading the World

In this presentation, join Steven Alvarez in considering how the strengths of after-school community programs—connecting with language-minoritized communities in ways that build relationships of trust, or confianza, between parents, extended families, and caring adults in neighborhoods—can inform our practices as teachers of English language learners.

Ellen Cushman, Northeastern University

Cherokee Lifeways as Another Wise Alternative to Modernity

Ellen Cushman will underscore a number of important themes presented in Rhetorics Elsewhere and Otherwise: Contested Modernities, Decolonial Visions (eds. Romeo García and Damián Baca). The book offers an important demonstration of pluriversal (rather than universal) understandings of rhetoric as it provides a framework for Cherokee perspectives on civic sustainability and perseverance.  To illustrate, she will read excerpts from a current book project, as she connects them to themes, questions, and challenges raised in Rhetorics Elsewhere and Otherwise.

Eli Goldblatt, Temple University 

How To LEARN & What to do about it?

Drawing from his new book (with David Jollifee), Literacy as Conversation, Gold will tell stories of successful literacy learning outside of schools and inside communities, from within urban neighborhoods of Philadelphia. He will then discuss a rubric to assess what community’s already possess in terms of literacy supports and educational programs, demonstrating how such knowledge can be used to build effective community partnerships. 

Ahmed Hachelaf, University of Algeria-Laghout, Algeria

Teaching for Teaching To Transgress

Teaching teachers who can support criticality and transgression is a necessity in an age of complexity and volatility. The need for such skills and predispositions are particularly important for citizenship (local/ global) that is arguably the ultimate objective of schooling. I will speak to my own experience teaching two classes (one undergraduate and the other graduate) at ENS laghouat- Algeria. I will discuss lessons learnt and best practices from my attempt to introduce critical pedagogy in the syllabi in the context of social/political unrest in Algeria. Instances from my classes will be discussed relating to teaching power distribution and inclusive practices to transgress marginalization and exclusionary perspectives.

Tobi Jacobi, Colorado State University

Becoming Incorrigible: What an early 20th century Training School for Girls can teach us about the value of community writing

Through feminist rhetorical inquiry and analysis, this talk invokes the politics and possibilities of archival materials through the story of the New York State Training School for Girls in the 1920s and early 1930s. We will offer space to the tensions between institutional and personal narratives of justice as we take a critical look at texts ranging from the training school’s 1904 handbook and intake narratives to personal letters, institutional postcards and guard logs. This archival work offers critical perspectives on linguistic and visual representations of female deviance as well as historical and contemporary attitudes towards justice in the United States. To illustrate links to contemporary community writing practies, I will share some stories about what it means to take documents like these into contemporary community-centered spaces (e.g. prison workshops, public pop-up museums)–and encourage conversations on we can do so ethically, respectfully, and kindly as a tactic for critical literacy engagement.

Paula Mathieu, Boston College

Interrogating White Good Intentions and Community-Based Work

As a white-identified academic with decades of experience in community-based work with BIPOC writers, Paula walks through some of the mistakes that “good intentions” can bring and suggests methods for personal and community processes of developing anti-racist awareness and practices.

Mindful Practices to Help Deepen Community-Based Writing Projects

Community-based writing projects need more than good ideas and sharp minds; they need people equipped with tools of mindfulness and deep awareness to allow for empathy and deeper connection. This talk offers practices and resources for mindful community-based work.

Deborah Mutnick, LIU-Brooklyn, and Shannon Carter, Texas A&M - Commerce

The Federal Writers’ Project, the Green New Deal, and Composition Studies

At the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown and ensuing economic crisis, calls for a new Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) reminded the public of the impact of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal programs for artists and writers. A flurry of similar calls was made in 2008 after the financial crash that ushered in the Great Recession. It was in part that round of attention to the historic writers’ project that led us to found Writing Democracy, a forum for conferences and workshops that ultimately resulted in the publication of an edited volume with Steve Parks and Jessica Pauszek titled, Writing Democracy: The Political Turn in and Beyond the Trump Era (2019). In summer 2021, we are slated to lead an NEH-sponsored Summer Institute for College and University Teachers on “The New Deal Era’s Federal Writers’ Project: History, Politics, and Legacy”—an institute we proposed in January 2020 just two months before the W.H.O. declared a global pandemic.

For this talk, we give a brief history of the FWP and a guided tour of the Library of Congress digital FWP collections: the American Guide Series of travel books or Baedekers; American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1940; and Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1938. We then go on to discuss the relevance of this unprecedented undertaking—which resulted in what Alfred Kazin called “an extraordinary contemporary epic (On Native Grounds 501)—to Writing Studies as we enter the third decade of the 21st century facing multiple transformative global crises.

Finally, we consider the FWP in relation to the politics of the New Deal in the 1930s and the congressional resolution for a Green New Deal, introduced by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Senator Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, which calls on the federal government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create new jobs in clean energy industries as well as to use these economic resources to address “the greatest income inequality since the 1920s” and the disproportionate effect of environmental pollution and climate change on indigenous, Black, brown, Latinx, migrant, and poor populations.

About Us:

We have been collaborating since 2010 on a variety of projects inspired by the FWP, including 

Writing Democracy, an ad-hoc group of writers and writing teachers that sponsored a conference in 2011 at Texas A&M-Commerce and workshops at national conferences; we published a special issue of the Community Literacy Journal based on the 2011 conference proceedings in which we place Writing Democracy into the historical context of the New Deal (Carter and Mutnick 2012); and we went on to publish work inspired by and/or directly about the FWP (Mutnick 2014, 2016, 2018; Carter 2012, 2013, 2015). In 2019, we coedited Writing Democracy: The Political Turn in and Beyond the Trump Era

Brice Nordquist, Syracuse University 

Literacy, Mobility and Collaborative Writing on the 7 Train

Drawing on a series of go-along video observations with high school seniors on their daily commutes from Queens, the Bronx, and Brooklyn to a public school in Lower Manhattan, this presentation reveals how students use their smartphones and time in transit to complete most of their reading and writing for school, collaborate on school work across languages and media, and maintain and expand transnational social networks. Reading students’ mobile literacies against the backdrop of pedagogies of containment that characterize their experiences in school, I investigate the effects of material and embodied mobilities on literacy practices and demonstrate how scales of education are constituted, in part, by traversals across the city and internet.

Through an integration of literacy and mobility studies, the presentation offers researchers, teachers, and students ways to attend to pluralities of moving bodies, objects, ideas, and texts that make up and connect literacy practices and scenes across space-time. This attention is central to the project of “learning across contexts” in literacy education and paramount in the face of increasing movements of people around the world; accelerating circulations of capital and messages; and intensifying exertions of control over individual and collective mobilities imposed by neoliberal states and institutions, including K-16 education systems.   

Steve Parks, University of Virginia

The Communal Work of Community Publishing

Parks will discuss the theories and practices which frame the work of community publishing as well as provide examples of local, regional, national, and international community publishing projects.

Steps Toward Justice: From Syria to Syracuse

Parks will discuss the role of community partnership work in supporting democratic and human rights work, with a focus on the creation of the Westside Residents Coalition/Syracuse and Syrians for Truth and Justice/Paris, Istanbul.

Jessica Pauszek, University of Texas A&M- Commerce

Transnational Archival Building” Or “Building Archives with Working-Class Communities

Pauszek will describe the process of building print and digital archives alongside working-class community members in England. The presenter will describe the process of working alongside community members in precarious financial, technological, and educational contexts.

Christie Toth, University of Utah

Reimagining Community College-University Relations in Composition Studies

The disciplinary formation of composition studies has been profoundly shaped by the discipline’s pervasive four-year-centrism– that is, its domination by university-based scholars and its failures to attend to community college contexts in knowledge-making about the teaching and learning of writing. This talk examines the past, present, and possible futures of disciplinary relations between at two-year colleges and four-year institutions. It brings together insights from national pushes for disciplinary reconstruction by two-year college teacher-scholar-activists and local collaborations between the University of Utah’s Department of Writing & Rhetoric Studies and Salt Lake Community College’s Department of English, Linguistics, and Writing Studies. These efforts are fueling a disciplinary reimagining with implications for first-year writing curricula, the development of writing resources for transfer students, associates and bachelors degrees in writing studies, and graduate education in English studies. 

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