Converging Literacies Center (CLiC)

Especially important to the current project was the establishment in 2007of the A&M-Commerce Converging Literacies Center (CLiC), a research center designed to promote a better understanding of how texts and related literacy practices may develop, sustain, or even erode civic engagement across local publics, especially among historically underrepresented groups.

CLiC’s Mission Statement:

CLiC’s Mission Statement:  The Converging Literacies Center (CLiC) promotes a better understanding of how texts and related literacy practices may develop, sustain, or even erode civic engagement across local publics, especially among historically underrepresented groups. CLiC supports historical, theoretical, and empirical research on rhetoric and writing as manifested in everyday local contexts and over time. Projects emerging from and informing CLiC often engage new media as both object of inquiry and the form through which these findings are communicated. CLiC develops educational and outreach initiatives designed to address relevant civic issues.

Shannon Carter teaches undergraduate and graduate-level courses in new media, rhetoric, and community literacy. As a researcher, she studies the literate lives of local citizens and students, most recently the ways in which local literacies manifest themselves within the broader historical context of the Civil Rights Movement. She has published widely on various aspects of text-use and production among local publics–from community members (College Composition and Communication, September 2012, and Community Literacy Journal, forthcoming) and area inmates (Community Literacy Journal, 2008) to evangelicals (College English, 2007), from campus administrators (College Composition and Communication, 2009) to at-risk writers (Journal of Basic Writing, 2006). Her book, The Way Literacy Lives (State University of New York Press, 2008), brings these themes together to argue for more systematic attention to literacy experiences beyond the university. Her current book project engages community literacy more directly, focusing on citizen, student, and “official” discourse in the decades immediately following racial integration (in 1964). Remixing Rural Texas draws from this ongoing work and her desire for more sustainable, reciprocal, and participatory approaches to the study of rhetoric’s past among historically underrepresented groups., In 2007, based on this approach and attention to new media's role in our increasingly complex literate lives, Carter began working with colleagues to establish the Converging Literacies Center (CLiC), a research center designed to study the literate lives of local citizens and students (see Kairos, Fall 2009, and Computers and Composition Online, Fall 2010).  Her work with the digital humanities builds upon this infrastructure and includes additional publications.  With Bump Halbritter (Michigan State University), she guest edited a special issue dedicated to digital scholarship produced by undergraduates (Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy). Her video projects include “Standardized” (published in Kairos, Fall 2009), “What’s So Basic About Writing, Anyway?” (Published by BWe: Basic Writing e-Journal, 2009/2010, and National Conversation on Writing, 2009), “What’s Y/Our Story?” (In National Conversation on Writing, 2009), “Calling All Teachers” (also in NCoW, 2009), and “The Activist Writing Center” (published in Computers and Composition Online, Fall 2010).  She has also served as project lead and supervisor on documentary and community-based video projects relevant to RRT, including “The Other Side of the Track” (history of local African American Community, 2011) and “Signs of Change” (history of controversial sign in adjacent town, ongoing). “The Other Side” was selected at the Texas Black Film Festival (in 2011) and the San Diego Black Film Festival (in 2012).

Kelly L. Dent, graduate student in Political Science at Texas A&M University-Commerce, studies the impact of race, religion, and gender on political behavior. Her thesis will investigate the impact of the rural black church on political mobilization, offering the local congregations most involved in the Norris Community Club as case studies. She has presented her findings at regional, interdisciplinary and history conferences, including the Pathways Symposium in November 2011. As one of the research assistants for Remixing Rural Texas, Kelly has worked closely with Dr. Shannon Carter and the rest of the RRT Project Team to organize public programming and collect new archival materials and oral histories about race relations in region. She is also an active member of several student organizations that support civic engagement, including the Student Government Association. Last spring, she has helped organize the Black History Month Speaker Series, and she will help coordinate a campus and community-wide voter registration drive with a panel discussion about a historically unprecedented voter registration drive coordinated by Norris Community Club membership throughout several successful elections in the 1970s.

Sunchai Hamcumpai is a PhD student in English at Texas A&M University-Commerce. His research roles in Remixing Rural Texas Project involve archival research, video production, prototype data inputting, and sources citation. He enjoys working on new technologies to explore the best practices in teaching. Upon the completion of his PhD in English, he intends on returning to Thailand where he will work towards developing language education and English teacher professionals.

Currently, he is working on his dissertation, "Learning English as a Foreign Language from the Rural Texas Oral History Collection". He will use oral histories as a means to develop English language curriculum for English language students abroad. The oral history interviews are collected from the African American Collection found in the Gee Library Digital Collection and will support educators in teaching language acquisition as well as American Culture. The prototype will be developed from digital video and delivered on an electronic platform via Web 2.0 tools.

Jennifer Jones is a PhD student  in English who holds a certificate in Film Studies from Texas A&M University-Commerce and a BFA in Art History from the University of North Texas. She is a member of Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honor Society. Her research focuses specifically on film studies with a particular interest in auteur theory and philosophy. She is currently writing an article on the work of Terrence Malick and his recent film Tree of Life (2011).Her interests include twentieth-century American literature, especially by women. Most recently, she has expanded her area of research to include race, class and gender. She is currently a Research Assistant on Remixing Rural Texas where she has focused much of her time on the aesthetic choices that have been made in both the videos and has played a key role in the development of the website. She has worked to collect archival materials, oral histories, and helped to organize the Black Speaker Series. Her research for this project is based on her work in the Archives where she coordinated the cataloging of the Oral History Collection at Texas A&M University-Commerce.

Adam Sparks is a graduate student in History. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Radio/Television and brings his technical skills, creativity and rich historical perspective to the project.

Faculty Center for Teaching with Technology

The FCTT helped CLiC create a working prototype for RRT, which they continued to define in deep collaboration with our evolving needs. In the first year, Michael Lewandowski worked with graduate research assistant Prasna Verna to design the initial prototype and being entering the data source annotations for the first remix we developed. In May 2012, Prasna graduated with her MA in Computer Science and Michael moved on to take a new position at a web development firm in Dallas. At that point, we began working closely with David Moseley, who replaced Michael in this position, and Shiva, to continue refining the RRT prototype and develop a website to house the project. In December 2012, Shiva graduates with his MA in Computer Science. Like Prasna and Michael before him, Shiva has ensured the project is exactly where it needs to be before going on to greater things. We couldn’t be more proud of both the project itself and the people who worked so hard to make it a reality.

David Moseley is the Coordinator of Multimedia Technology in the Faculty Center for Teaching with Technology at Texas A&M University-Commerce. With both a BS in English and an MS in Technology Management from Texas A&M Commerce, David can lend both his writing skills and technical expertise to the project. He has written articles for newspapers and other publications and has been developing dynamic websites since 2001.

Michael Lewandowski was formerly the Interim Coordinator of Multimedia Development for the department of Instructional Technology & Distance education at Texas A&M-Commerce. He has been working in web development since 2003 and is knowledgeable in a wide variety of web technologies and various types of multimedia. Michael has also worked with Drs. Carter and Dunbar-Odom on research projects in the past, including peer-reviewed works on literacy and rhetorical contexts involving multimedia (published in Computers and Composition Online, Fall 2010, and Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology and Pedagogy, Fall 2009).

Gee Library, Special Collections

This project required extensive use of existing archives. Not only did the university archivists provide access to far more resources than we could have even considered accessing alone, but they processed the extensive archival materials we collected in the process of developing these archives. We collected dozens or oral history interviews in the year and a half we spent creating these remixes and data source annotations, and participants provided us with unprecedented access to images, documents, and other source materials vital to our understanding of African American history. In almost every case, the archival materials provided to us by local citizens for the creation of these remixes have been donated to the university library.

Andrea Weddle is currently the Head of Special Collections and Archives at Texas A&M University-Commerce. A Certified Archivist, Weddle received her Master of Library and Information Science degree from Louisiana State University in 2009 where she was a member of Beta Phi Mu International Library and Information Science Honor Society and Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society. She joined the staff of TAMU-C in June 2009 as the Heirloom Project Archivist. The Heirloom Project, a joint public-university library effort to preserve local history in rural repositories, is currently in its third year of LSTA funding. While working as the Heirloom Archivist, the project received numerous accolades including recognition from OCLC and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Weddle presented and chaired a panel discussion at the 2010 Joint Annual Meeting of the Council of State Archivists, the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators, and the Society of American Archivists in Washington, DC regarding the Heirloom Project model and how it can be adapted at other institutions. She regularly offers workshops at public libraries and museums across Northeast Texas regarding preserving and digitizing local history collections.


Deborah Mutnick is professor of English and Director of Writing at the Brooklyn campus of Long Island University, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate level courses in composition, nonfiction writing, rhetorical theory, research methods, and community-based writing.  She is the author of Writing in an Alien World: Basic Writing and the Struggle for Equality in Higher Education (1996), recipient of the W. Ross Winterowd Award. She had published articles and chapters on basic writing, narrative, critical pedagogy, oral history, and the intersection between geography and composition studies. The unifying theme of her work is her interest in and commitment to reinvigorating and democratizing public discourses. With Shannon Carter (Texas A&M-Commerce), she is guest editor for a special issue of the Community Literacy Journal entitled “Writing Democracy: A Rhetoric of (T)Here,” also the theme of the national March 2011 conference at Commerce she is helping Carter organize. Chief among her current interests are oral history, ethnography, and university-community partnerships that bring the resources of universities to communities and vice versa, enabling students, faculty, and community members to engage in research, creative, and critical projects in a range of social and academic contexts. Related to this work, she is completing a book of essays about place-based composition entitled Writing, Memory, and the Politics of Place, and has embarked on research about the relevance to 21st century America of the 1930s Federal Writers’ Project created under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration.

Jim H. Conrad was Director of Special Collections at Gee Library from 1976-2010, where he has worked since earning a PhD, History from Ohio State University and, later, Master of Library Science from Texas Woman’s University. He is co-author of several award-winning books on Texas history directly relevant to current project, including Freedom Colonies: Independent Black Texans in the Time of Jim Crow (University of Texas Press 2005, with Thad Sitton). For his extensive contributions to scholarship using oral history, advocacy of oral history to both academic and vocational audiences, and extensive service to organizations ranging from the East Texas Historical Association, to the Hunt County Historical Commission, and the American Cotton Museum, Conrad was awarded in 2002 the prestigious Thomas L. Charlton Lifetime Achievement Award from the Texas Oral History Association.  In that 2002 Award Proclamation, Dr. James H. Conrad was described as “essentially the face and voice of the oral history moment in East Texas—and has been more than 20 years” (Texas Oral History Association, Baylor University). Indeed, that role has only continued in the years since, thus Dr. Conrad brings to this project nearly thirty years of experience as “the face and voice of the oral history moment in East Texas.” In these and many other ways, Conrad is uniquely qualified to help guide the current project. From 1976 until 2010, Dr. Conrad served as Director of Special Collections at Texas A&M-Commerce, collecting more than 1000 oral histories and other artifacts in the growing Special Collections at Gee Library and, more recently, across the Northeast Texas Digital Collections, also at Gee Library. From 2008 until his retirement, Conrad served as a Principle Investigator for a Texas State Library Association grant to preserve and digitize local genealogy and museum collections, most recently with a focus on local African American history. In these efforts, he has been working closely with Dr. Shannon Carter for the last two years to collect oral histories with local African American citizens and has presented with Carter and local African American leadership at local and national conferences.