The University of Alabama

Innovative Group of UA Faculty Holds Colloquium

Dr. Amilcar Shabazz (left), professor of African-American Studies, talks with Dr. Culpepper Clark (center), dean of the College of Communication, who responded to the paper presented by Dr. Dexter Gordon (right), author of soon-to-be-published book "Black Identity", at the first annual Spring Colloquim of the Interdisciplinary Writing Group.

Dr. Amilcar Shabazz (left), professor of African-American Studies, talks with Dr. Culpepper Clark (center), dean of the College of Communication, who responded to the paper presented by Dr. Dexter Gordon (right), author of soon-to-be-published book "Black Identity", at the first annual Spring Colloquim of the Interdisciplinary Writing Group.

By Joanna Hutt

The first annual Spring Colloquium of the Interdisciplinary Writing Group held recently in Ferguson Center was the culmination of almost two years’ work from an innovative group of junior UA faculty. Composed of some 12 faculty representing a variety of areas on campus, group members meet weekly to present their writings and papers on their research to each other for comment and critique, but mainly for support. The goal is to better ensure their work gets published, and they feel that learning from each other in this intellectual and interdisciplinary group is the best way to make it happen.

Because of the group’s tenacity and success, it was able to get funding for the colloquium from the College of Arts and SciencesNew College division. Dr. David Klemmack, director of New College, explained its willingness to support the group to the audience attending the colloquium. “The group is the finest example of what the Academy means,” he said.

“Make no mistake,” said Dr. Jerry Rosiek, assistant professor in the College of Education and one of the founders of the group, “presenting our own work means our self esteem is on the line.” Other members agree, but say the benefits far outweigh the negatives. “These meetings are the only time in a week that it is about us and our work,” said Sheri Shuler, assistant professor of communication studies. “We come vulnerable but seeking assistance.”

Daniel Goldmark, assistant professor of music, comes for the intellectual debate and critical thinking. Dr. Marysia Galbraith, assistant professor in New College and anthropology, comes because the meetings are “interesting, intense, and exciting.” Dr. Ted Trost, assistant professor of religious studies, comes because the interdisciplinary group gives a sense of the University, its culture, and its role in Alabama and the U.S.

The colloquium presented three panels composed of a presenter and respondents. In the first panel, Dr. Dexter Gordon, assistant professor in communication studies, presented an overview and chapter of his soon-to-be-published book “Black Identity.” The book deals with rhetoric as a tool and expression of the ideology of black nationalism among 19th century African-Americans as represented by such speakers and writers as Martin R. Delany, Frederick Douglass and Henry H. Garnet.

Respondents were Dr. Culpepper Clark, dean of the College of Communication and Information Sciences, and Dr. Marsha Houston, chair and professor in communication studies. Clark, who saw the book from dissertation to completed manuscript, pointed to the powerfully reasoned analysis and selection of speeches as compelling. Houston called the book “a landmark” and the group a “safe space” for presenting the writing.

Other presenters were Dr. Catherine Roach, assistant professor in New College and religious studies, on “Strippers,” and Dr. Natalie Adams, associate professor in the College of Education, on “Cheerleaders.” The presentations were followed by comments from respondents and discussion.

For more information about the group, contact Jerry Rosiek at 348-7598 or jrosiek@bamaed.ua.edu.