Shannon Carter is professor of English at Texas A&M University-Commerce. Her research focuses on vernacular literacies, histories of community writing, public memory and, currently, racial (in)justice and Black resistance in rural, working-class communities. She is author of The Way Literacy Lives: Rhetorical Dexterity and “Basic” Writing (State University of New York Press, 2008), articles in College English, College Composition and Communication, Kairos, Community Literacy Journal, Journal of Basic Writing, and other journals, and invited chapters in edited collections like Rhetoric and the Digital Humanities (Ridolfo et. al., Chicago UP, 2015) and Writing for Engagement (Sheridan et. al., Lexington P, 2018). Together with Deborah Mutnick, she founded Writing Democracy, an initiative inspired by the New Deal Era’s Federal Writers’ Project that began as a conference on her campus in March 2011. In 2012, they coedited a special issue of Community Literacy Journal based on conference proceedings from that first event, which won the “Best Public Intellectual Special Issue” from the Council of Learned Journals. Following a series of annual, national workshops and roundtables, this project culminated in an edited collection (with Steve Parks and Jessica Pauszek) called Writing Democracy: The Political Turn in and Beyond the Trump Era (Routledge Press, 2019) and, most recently, a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to direct a four-week NEH Summer Institute for Higher Education Faculty in Brooklyn, NY, Summer 2021, on “The New Deal Era Federal Writers’ Project: History, Politics, Legacy.”  She’s currently working on two book projects: (1) Enacting Vernacular Inquiry in Uncertain Times, with co-authors Elenore Long and Bethany Clerico (under review at WAC Clearinghouse) and (2) White Texas: Writing “The South’s Most Democratic College,” 1889-1975, a single-authored rhetorical history about white working-class racism (W.E.B. DuBois’s “compensatory whiteness”) and Black resistance in her rural university town. 

One of my current book projects:

WHITE TEXAS: Writing “The South’s Most Democratic College,” 1889-1975

A rhetorical history about white working-class racism and Black resistance in our rural university town–one of the last public colleges in the country to desegregate. Framed by critical race studies and approaching “democracy” as a rhetorical enterprise, the study illustrates how similar calls at (inter)national levels have been taken up at local levels, through interactive networks of local texts and other rhetorical agents.  The subtitle refers to the 75-year period our university advertised itself as “The South’s Most Democratic College.” Tellingly, this campaign ended when our campus’s all-white policy ended (1964). The second section covers the first decade following our campus’s reluctant desegregation, illustrating how student and community activists seized the rhetorical agency made possible through the growing momentum of global calls for human rights, subsequently bringing about unprecedented change across the campus and surrounding community. I devote a full chapter to John Carlos, for example, who took up this global call on our campus (local) just one year before he’d take up these local calls on the global stage when he raised his fist in an explicit call for global human rights as part of the Silent Protest at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968. 

This book contributes to our field’s understanding of how people leverage writing for social change. Increasingly, our field is turning to local, underrepresented literacy scenes to understand how members of historically marginalized groups garner the rhetorical agency necessary for public deliberation. Even so, we know far too little about how activists have leveraged writing in rural spaces and even less about how this work unfolds across university-community boundaries and in relationship to global forces. That’s a key challenge my own work has sought to address throughout. Our field has long sought to understand “local literacies” (Barton and Hamilton) without succumbing to “the limits of the local” (Brandt and Clinton), a theoretical blind spot that has long frustrated humanities researchers attending to the local dimensions of how words take up meaning in particular contexts and over time. In short, local writers and their texts come into begin at particular time sand in particular places (Pennycook), but rarely are literate interactions entirely local in origin or effect (Escobar; Reynolds; Rice).  As a remedy, I introduce Zeitlupe, German for “slow motion.” Zeitlupe is, literally, time (zeit) magnifying glass (lupe). Literacy has a capacity to “travel, integrate, and endure” beyond a literacy scene’s boundaries (Brandt and Clinton). Zeitlupe enables researchers to trace the circulation of associated local texts across space and time, attending to the local-global dimensions I argue are part and parcel of any literate act.

Shannon Carter is Professor of English at Texas A&M University-Commerce, where she teaches digital media and histories of community writing. She is author of The Way Literacy Lives (2008) and articles and book chapters appearing in College English, College Composition and Communication, Kairos, Computers and Composition, and the Community Literacy Journal.

and lead guest editor of the special issue on “Writing Democracy” (Community Literacy Journal 2012), which won which won the “Best Public Intellectual Special Issue” Award in 2012 from the Council for Editors of Learned Journals. She’s also co-editor of Writing Democracy: The Political Turn in (and Beyond) the Trump Era (Routledge 2019). In 2011, she received a grant from National Endowment for Humanities Office of Digital Humanities in 2011 for “Remixing Rural Texas: Local Texts, Global Contexts.”

Her research interests include prison literacy, evangelical rhetoric, the New Deal Era’s Federal Writers Project, and racial justice, and her work has appeared in   Her current work includes “The New-Deal Era Federal Writers’ Project: History, Accomplishments, Cultural Legacy,” a four-week institute she’s co-directing with Deborah Mutnick to be held in Brooklyn, NY, Summer 2021 (funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities). Current book projects include add another page.

Her current work includes Enacting Vernacular Inquiry in Uncertain Times, with Elenore Long (Arizona State University) and Bethany (currently under review at WAC Clearinghouse)

Clifton, Jennifer, Elenore Long, Shannon Carter, Timothy McCormack, Allison Craig, Bethany Clerico, Llana Carroll. “Enacting Inquiry” (Invited by WAC Clearinghouse)

Carter, Shannon. “White Texas: Writing ‘The South’s Most Democratic College,’ 1889-1975.” (Invited by Texas A&M University Press, Sam Rayburn Series on Rural Life)

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