UMBC Faculty Discuss Baltimore City Civic Engagement Work in Diverse

In the wake of the unrest in Baltimore earlier this year, several UMBC faculty were interviewed by Diverse to share the projects they are doing with students and colleagues to work with the city as it recovers from its first uprising in nearly 50 years.

Bev BickelBeverly Bickel, a clinical associate professor in the language, literacy and culture program, discussed the Imagining America conference, which is sponsored by UMBC in partnership with MICA and Morgan State University. Many conference sessions will focus specifically on Baltimore and address topics such as race, inequality and community-based approaches to spur collective action.

“Part of our commitment in doing that was about how we could use this conference to develop the work in Baltimore,” said Bickel. “We want to use it as an organizing process to strengthen the arts community [in] Baltimore.”

Lee BootLee Boot, associate director of the IRC, said that he and some of his colleagues are cautious about not appearing as to have all the answers: “These issues are real[ly] complicated. The whole idea that [the] university alone is [the] purveyor of knowledge is insane,” he said.

“And we’re trying to level that. Another thing that came up is that Baltimore has to take its stories back. … An opportunity that comes out of what happened in April is that now [there is] a wider understanding that those events were results of things that had happened before. We’re trying to say [that] this is not a bunch of bad players, but results of decisions we have made. That’s a line of thought most people are not interested in listening to most of the time.”

Denise MeringoloDenise Meringolo, an associate professor of history, is working with community partners to create a website that includes original content and documents history in the days surrounding Freddie Gray’s death. The goal is to provide a historical record of diverse perspectives from the people whose lives were directly impacted by the events.

“The thing that’s most important for me [is] that it’s broadly collaborative and puts [the] needs and interests of community first,” Meringolo said. “At this point this is a collection project. … Healing at this time feels like skipping over their pain. I think we’ve got to stop skipping over the pain, so people don’t go from trauma to forgiveness and skip over the hard work. I feel like this [is] the beginning of the hard work.”

Read “Baltimore Higher Ed Institutions Fight to Restore the City” in Diverse.

Craig Saper, LLC, Co-Edits New Publication on Critical Studies in the Humanities

ElectracyLanguage, Literacy, and Culture (LLC) Professor and Director Craig Saper, with contributions to the manuscript preparation and index from LLC doctoral students Felix Burgos and Kevin Wisniewski, has co-edited and introduced a new book Electracy: Gregory L. Ulmer’s Textshop Experiments (2015).

According to a description on the book’s website, “‘Textshop’ in the title refers to a pedagogy for teaching rhetorical invention, with application to any form of production of texts or works in Arts and Letters fields, or for teaching creative thinking in general. More specifically this book provides background and context for the published work of Ulmer, filling in gaps between his books, and showing the genealogy of Ulmer’s innovative approach to media education.”

Growing out of the book, Burgos and Wisniewski have started a peer-review scholarly journal on Textshop Experiments. To learn more about the project, click here.

Digital Quilt: A Conversation with Dr. Michelle Ferrier (5/14)

On Wednesday, May 14 at 11:30 a.m., Dr. Michelle Ferrier, Associate Dean for Innovation, Research/Creative Activity, and Graduate Studies for the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University, will take part in an informal conversation about the future of media and journalism.

Michelle Ferrier

In this conversation, the audience will brainstorm with Dr. Ferrier: What is the future of publishing? of journalism? of writing? What is the future of scholarship that has a journalistic component and a public history and heritage component? What is the
digital quilt? Who should publish this work or works like it? What does it mean to make journalism that matters? What is a media desert? How does that relate to her digital quilt? And, in all these questions, how can we help?

Ferrier is the founder and publisher of, a hyperlocal, niche online community for local food advocates. She is the chief instigator behind “Create or Die” media entrepreneurship startup events. Ferrier is active in research around the changing media ecosystem and curriculum change including media entrepreneurship, hyperlocal online news and the media deserts project that examines places where fresh news and information are lacking. She is the vice president for Journalism That Matters, an organization focused on bringing together diverse communities to re-imagine the news and information landscape.

The Digital Humanities Working Group event will be held at the Dresher Center for the Humanities conference room. The event and working group are sponsored by the Dresher Center.

For more information, contact Dr. Craig Saper, or Félix Burgos

Rethinking Intellectual Activism Recap

13823811124_d2968e1829_zOn April 12, 2014 over one hundred graduate students, faculty, staff, and community partners gathered in UMBC’s Performing Arts and Humanities Building for the Rethinking Intellectual Activism graduate student conference. Presenters represented UMBC’s Language, Literacy and Culture (LLC) Doctoral Program and the departments of Geography and Environmental Systems, Public Policy, Psychology, and Sociology, as well as universities across the country, such as UCLA, MICA, George Mason, and the University of Louisville, and the world, such as University of Oxford, England, Sabancı University, Turkey and North South University, Bangladesh.

Presenters and attendees discussed a variety of topics connected to the notion of Intellectual Activism. They included: Social Justice Through Critical Participatory Action Research; Politics of Race, Ethnicity, Religion, and Gender; New Critical Perspectives on Service Learning and Community Engagement; Researching Political Action, Discourse, and Organizations; and Politics of Art and Art as Activism.

Dr. Kaye Whitehead, Assistant Professor of Communication at Loyola University and a graduate of the Language, Literacy and Culture Doctoral Program at UMBC, delivered the keynote speech, titled In Search of Your Magis: Taking a Moment to ReThink, ReEvaluate, and ReDiscover Intellectual Activism. In her speech grounded on the central question, “What kind of a scholar do you want to be?” and interwoven with episodes from her own inspiring life story, Dr. Whitehead talked about the importance of scholars finding their own paths to be/come intellectual activists or activist intellectuals who fight for social justice and make a difference in both others’ and their own lives through their knowledge practices.

Thanks to all the co-sponsoring academic departments, programs, and offices across the campus, whose support made this conference possible: LLC Doctoral Program; Office of the Vice President for Research; Department of Gender and Women’s Studies; LLC Graduate Student Organization; Department of Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication; Department of American Studies; Department of Sociology and Anthropology; Department of English, and B’PAR Graduate Student Organization. Thanks also to the campus community of students, faculty members, and staff members, without whom this conference would remain as a dream. Next year’s LLC Graduate Student Conference is expected to add to the critical dialogues stimulated in this year’s conference.

Kevin Wisniewski, LLC Doctoral Student, Named 2014 Michael Denker Chesapeake Chapter Fellow

Language, Literacy and Culture doctoral student Kevin A. Wisniewski was recently named a 2014 Michael Denker Chesapeake Chapter Fellow at the American Printing History Association. The fellowship is named after a former Chesapeake Chapter president, and it offers a one-year membership and active participation in the association’s various activities throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, including a presentation of original research at an upcoming symposium on the history of colonial printing and typography.

Kevin Wisniewski

Wisniewski will also be presenting a paper at the upcoming American Literature Association’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C. with professors from Ohio University, the College of William and Mary and the University of Massachusetts from May 22-25 in a panel entitled, “Graphic Humor in the 19th-Century Periodical.”

Finally, Wisniewski’s review of Michael David Cohen’s monograph Reconstructing the Campus: Higher Education and the American Civil War (University of Virginia Press, 2012) is forthcoming in the journal Civil War History, and he is awaiting the publication of sections he completed on the early American republic for a forthcoming online, Open Access American History textbook entitled American Yawp. 

The project is edited by Joseph Locke (University of Texas-Pan American) and Ben Wright (Rice University) and boasts an impressive editorial board that includes Edward Ayers, Kathleen Brown, Joyce Chaplin, Woody Holton, James Merrell and Richard White.

David Levering Lewis to Present W.E.B. Du Bois Lecture (11/13)

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David Levering Lewis is this year’s speaker for the W.E.B. Du Bois Lecture, “W.E.B. Du Bois Fifty Years after the March on Washington.” He is the author of eight books and editor of two more.

David Levering Lewis

Lewis is a Professor of History at New York University and his field is comparative history with special focus on twentieth-century United States social history and civil rights. He has won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography twice for part one and part two of his biography of W.E.B. Du Bois in 1994 and 2001 respectively.

The W.E.B. Du Bois Lecture is co-sponsored by the Department of Africana Studies, the Department of History, the Department of American Studies, the Language, Literacy and Culture Doctoral Program, the Honors College, the Dresher Center for the Humanities, the Office of the Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, the Albin O. Kuhn Library & Gallery, and the Mosaic Center of the Office of Student Life.

The lecture will be held at 7 p.m. on November 13th in the University Center Ballroom.

LLC Graduate Student Accepted into HASTAC Scholars Program

LLC graduate student Satarupa Joardar has been awarded a HASTAC fellow and has created a blog on social media and social protest. HASTAC is an alliance of social scientists, artists, humanists, and other individuals and institutions committed to exploring new possibilities technology offers in shaping how we learn, teach, and communicate.

Joardar’s dissertation research focuses on her native country of India where she is studying a social and protest movement that occurred in 2011 that used social media and other internet technologies to inform and influence the message.

This is the second HASTAC scholar awarded to a LLC doctoral student.

Satarupa Joardar picture

Satarupa Joardar