Wednesday, January 4, 2017

5 Reasons to Consider AALCI

There are many reasons to participate in the African American Literatures and Cultures Institute. The stipend, the GRE prep, the faculty and staff from the University of Texas at San Antonio, the friendships established among Fellows from various colleges, the research sessions in the university special collections, and more are all really good places to start. For now, here's a quick rundown of 5 additional notable reasons I’d encourage rising seniors to participate in the program.

1.) Talking and thinking across different realms of Black Studies

Course packets, 2016

We spend considerable time talking and thinking about a wide range subjects in multiple realms of black studies. Slavery. Struggles for liberation. Natural Hair. Health and well being. African American poetry. Black Lives Matter. Rap music.  Yep: you name it.

Unlike conventional classrooms, we have the time and space to venture out into all kinds of directions for extended explorations of the topics. The conversations are culturally and intellectually enriching and remain a highlight of the Institute.


*****************
2.) The feedback on writings

Students discussing research projects, 2010
 
During the course of the summer, Institute founder Professor Joycelyn Moody and I end up offering extensive feedback on multiple drafts of professional statements and scholarly project abstracts. There are no grades. Instead, we offer feedback based on our shared interests in writing and editorial work, as well as our commitments to seeing our Fellows sharpen their writing skills.


*****************
3.) The New York City trip

At the Strand Bookstore in New York, 2015
Our trip to New York City makes it possible for us to expand on our conversations about black studies, cultural production, and creativity in one of the most storied cities in the world. While some of our participants had previously visited the city, they’ve rarely checked out the places using the kind of black studies/African American literary studies lens that we do when we explore. Bookstores. Museums. The African Burial Ground. The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. And on and on and on.

Outside the main branch of the New York Public Library, 2013






















 *****************
4.) The Moody Effect


Every year, I marvel at the many ways Fellows benefit from interactions with Professor Moody – a scholar who has decades of experiences working with students on projects. We’ve had dozens of participants in the program so far, and to a person, they all testify how Professor Moody made them much stronger thinkers.

[Related: The Interlocutor, the Ghost Hunter: Joycelyn Moody]


*****************

5.) The Poster Sessions

Poster session, 2016

Poster session, 2015

Each year, we coordinate a poster session where Fellows showcasing aspects of their research projects. The thoughtfulness and creativity of the Fellows’ posters make this event a highlight of the summer. The session also provides Fellows with important opportunities to discuss their projects with broad, diverse audiences.

 Related:
African American Literatures and Cultures Institute at a Glance

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

AALCI in NYC

From June 23 - 27, the AALCI Fellows, institute founder/director Joycelyn Moody, and I spent time in New York City. We visited the Museum of the City of New York, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the African Burial Ground, and the Strand Book Store, among other places. We also, as always, walked, explored, and talked about what we were seeing and thinking.




Visiting the Strand Book Store

On June 27, the Fellows visited the Strand Book Store. We spent an extended amount of time perusing and discussing books and ideas in the store.












Related:
AALCI in NYC
Visiting the African Burial Ground
Touring Harlem & the Schomburg with Doris G. Lango-Leak
AALCI 2016   

Visiting the African Burial Ground

On June 25, our group visited the African Burial Ground. The visit gave the group a chance to consider aspects of New York City that had previously remained hidden.





Touring Harlem & the Schomburg with Doris G. Lango-Leak

Doris G. Lango-Leak discusses the Schomburg with AALCI Fellows.

On June 24, our group received the special opportunity of an impromptu tour from guide extraordinaire Doris G. Lango-Leak. She guided us around the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. And she made us aware of notable people and important historical landmarks.


I've met Sister Lango-Leak for years during annual visits to the African Burial Ground. She let me know that she gave tours of Harlem and various other locales in New York City. So what good fortune we had by bumping into her at the Schomburg.

Sister Lango-Leak is deeply knowledgeable about black history and particularly about people, places, and culture in Harlem. We'd take two or three steps, and she was informing us about some little known fact, or some useful bit of information, or a reminder about someone special who had walked the same streets that we occupied.


All our Fellows agreed that one of the highlights of our trip to New York City and perhaps for the summer was getting the opportunity to learn from this fountain of knowledge known as Doris G. Lango-Leak.






Related: 
AALCI in NYC
Visiting the Strand Book Store 
Visiting the African Burial Ground 
AALCI 2016  

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

2016 Poster Session

Today, our Fellows presented aspects of their ongoing research projects at our annual poster session.
















Related:
AALCI 2016

Meeting with Dean Agbenyiga

Fellows meet with UTSA, Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School Brenna LaFa Agbenyiga.

On June 21, we met with DeBrenna LaFa Agbenyiga, Vice Provost and Dean of the graduate school at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). It was an important opportunity for the Fellows to converse with a university leader and get first-hand information about pursuing graduate studies at UTSA.

During our time with her, Dean Agbenyiga discussed specific programs offered by the graduate school at UTSA. She discussed funding and professional support, and she responded to questions about various processes and opportunities of graduate study at the university.

She also talked about her on journey from student to professor to assistant and associate dean positions to Dean. The Fellows and I were quite impressed. Dean Agbenyiga's leadership, thoughtfulness, and accomplishments are inspiring.       

Related:
AALCI 2016