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Call for Proposals (Extended!): 4th HBCU Rhet-Comp Symposium, Sept 23-25, 2021, Florida A&M

Courtesy of Florida A&M UniversityCourtesy of Florida A&M University

Call for Proposals: Fourth HBCU Symposium on Rhetoric and Composition

September 23–25, 2021

Please submit your proposals through THIS FORM no later than Friday, June 11, 2021.

Your proposal should be 250-350 words and should note whether this is an individual or group submission. Proposals will be blind reviewed by a committee of readers. Official invitations will be emailed on or before July 2, 2021, for accepted presentations, and you must confirm your intent to present within two weeks of receipt. The Symposium will take place virtually, through Zoom, on September 23, 24, and 25, 2021. Presentations will be recorded to share with attendees and the wider Macmillan Learning English community. Please contact or if you have further questions.

Call for Proposals

The Fourth HBCU Symposium on Rhetoric and Composition follows a tradition of gathering the best and the brightest English/Writing professors to our historically Black campuses to discuss the state of the field, celebrate our contributions to it, and strategize for our and our students’ continued success in it. Our theme this year, Transdisciplinarity @ HBCUs: Rewriting Black Futures beyond the Margin, opens the pathway for conversations beyond what onlookers assume we do (“fix” the grammar of broken writers) towards a nuanced look at the intersections between the meaning we can make with all of the languages and literacies we speak and understand. And given the leadership of HBCU alumni in the pivotal shift in our nation, the truth of our impact has become increasingly difficult to ignore. Language and literature courses are not limited to reading and writing and should not only be an English instructor’s or writing enthusiast’s focus. In fact, HBCUs provide a case of appropriate concern for enhancing literacy across the university curriculum. Moreover, a focus on critical consciousness and lifelong learning permeate curriculum development in the sciences, mathematics, and other fields not readily associated with language and literature. Meanwhile, these instantiations of cross-boundary interaction are often intertwined with rigid disciplinary devotion. While the conversations on transdisciplinarity are not new to our field or HBCUs, this approach is essential for thriving beyond our ever-fluctuating learning environment. 

In the Third Symposium, Morehouse College centered African American canonical texts to reveal foundational texts that inform our innovation. This symposium aims to “re-mark boundaries not only of perspectives, but also of disciplines, relations, and practices” (Gonzales, Shivers-McNair, and Bawarshi 433). While teaching through COVID-19 has exacerbated other social and racial inequities, we see this moment as an opportunity to move beyond reactionary responses towards proactively determining our contributions to the field and broader communities. We agree that “in 2021 and beyond, HBCUs will remain cultural centers and community hubs which will be affected by  greater resources and impact. Philanthropists, celebrities, corporations, federal agencies, and other organizations are eager to partner with HBCUs in recent months — a favorable trend that will certainly continue” (Turner para 3). Transdisciplinarity is at the center of the historical ingenuity formed out of oppression, and it is this ingenuity that propels HBCU communities beyond the marginal periphery into a vision of a future where HBCU compositionists are at the epicenters of its uninhibited future.

This symposium engages this conversation in hopes of a collective look into what we contribute to diverse discussions about learning and literacies across disciplinary bounds. We see Black futures as deleted in the liminal spaces where the black imaginary sees whole pictures beyond the strictures of disciplinary discourse. 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 instructors who teach writing in their courses at HBCUs to join the conversation by presenting at the The Fourth HBCU Symposium on Rhetoric and Composition and are asking for presentation abstracts of 250-350 words. These proposals could include, but are not limited to:

  • How do/will we draw on and out other disciplinary knowledge to teach English/Writing?
  • What new relationships/partnerships do we need to consider? Old partnerships we need to reconsider?
  • What are the HBCU-centered curricula/approaches we need to amplify? What approaches do we need to discontinue?
  • What role does/should technology play in the teaching of English/Writing?
  • What shape should/could the student-instructor relationship take in virtual classrooms? Face-to-face classrooms? Hybrid classrooms?
  • What should/could the role of the first-year writing classes be to non-writing departments?
  • What role should/could our writing centers take in our classrooms? Universities? Broader communities?
  • How should/could we circulate our epistemologies to wider audiences?
  • What should/could social justice look like in our classrooms? 

The conference will be held virtually via Zoom on Thursday, September 23-Saturday, September 25, 2021. We welcome abstracts for 250-350 word conference proposal submissions by May 28, 2021. Please indicate in your proposal if your presentation will be an individual, a group, or a workshop submission. This year’s conference will also provide an interactive “Writing for Publication” session Saturday for students and faculty with presentations from editors from Multimodal Rhetorics and CLAJ. 

Proposals will be blind reviewed by a committee of readers. Official invitations will be emailed by July 2, 2021 for accepted presentations. Please confirm your intent to present within two weeks of notification. Virtual presentation guidelines will be provided after notification of conference acceptance along with a required release form.

We look forward to hearing from you! Feel free to share this with anyone who might be interested. Please contact Dr. Kendra Mitchell at if you have questions about the call for proposals, or with questions regarding the symposium.  This event is hosted by Florida A&M University and sponsored by Bedford/St. Martin's, an imprint of Macmillan Learning.

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