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.

African American Literatures and Cultures Institute at a Glance