CCCC 2014, Indianapolis, Indiana

From Steve Parks, Deborah Mutnick, and Shannon Carter (Co-Chairs), with Ben Kuebrich:

We hope you can join us at CCCC 2014 for “In Search of Political Openings: (Re)Writing the Prison/Education/Military Industrial Complex,” part of our ongoing Writing Democracy Project, on Wednesday, March 19th from 130-5 PM.  The workshop explores the interrelated privatization of prisons, military, and educational systems for its impact not only on individuals but also on democratic institutions. Throughout the afternoon, we ask: What role can writing play in resisting oppression and developing and sustaining social and economic democracy?


  • Angela Y. Davis will be joining us!

One of our goals is to ensure that WD workshops consistently feature activists whose Davis-Angelalong-term commitments to democratic rights are exemplary. At our WD workshop in 2013, for example, featured speakers such as John Carlos, best known for his part in the Silent Protest at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, shared historical perspectives of our country’s ongoing struggle for social and economic justice. This year, we are thrilled to feature Angela Y. Davis, whose work on has been instrumental for us. As Davis has argued,

“Prisons do not disappear problems, they disappear human beings…. Homelessness, unemployment, drug addiction, mental illness, and illiteracy are just a few of the problems that disappear from public view when the human beings contending with them are relegated to cages.”

  • We have worked closely with the organizers for the CCCC morning workshop “Prison Networks: Broadcasting Why Prison Writing Matters” to enable as much cross-pollination among participants as possible .

For the morning workshop on “Prison Networks,” for example, they have graciously invited WD project organizers Shannon Carter and Deborah Mutnick to share their experiences with prison literacy programs in Dallas, Texas, and Brooklyn, New York. In the afternoon WD workshop, Patrick Berry and Laura Rogers will discuss their extensive work in prison literacy. We hope participants involved in either workshop will consider expanding the conversation by joining both workshops. We have so much to learn from one another.

  • Posters Session on community-university partnerships

Throughout the workshop, we will leave space for attendees to describe community-university partnerships and the various spaces of intervention that they have participated in. If you have worked to educate or organize on issues of mass incarceration, militarism, or privatized schooling, please consider creating a a poster about it to be displayed and discussed throughout the workshop and, ideally, featured at our Writing Democracy blog (http://www.writingdemocracy.org). If interested, please contact any of us at the addresses below. We want to know!

Workshop Format

The session includes two panels, a lot of room for collaboration and dialogue, and some time with Angela Y. Davis who has agreed to participate in the workshop in addition to her featured presentation the following morning (see program).

The session includes four sections:

  1. Collaborative workshop on the interconnections of mass incarceration, militarism, and education and the responsibility of writing teachers. This section will be led by Steve Parks.
  2. Q&A with Angela Y. Davis. Co-interviewers will host the first part of this conversation with Davis, and then we will open up for questions and comments from all the workshop participants.
  3. We will be joined by panelists to talk about prison literacy, Occupy LA, and the privatization of education. (Speakers include Laura Rogers, Patrick Berry, Diana Hines, and Kurt Spellmeyer)
  4. We end with a look forward and backward–back at the work that Writing Democracy participants have created over the last year (including the This We Believe Project, for which we began collecting recordings Vegas), and forward to the next steps we might collectively take at CCCC 2015 and elsewhere. We also describe upcoming publication and presentation opportunities and how workshop participants can get involved. Speakers include Deborah Mutnick, Shannon Carter, Steve Parks, Veronica Leigh House, and Ben Kuebrich.

About Writing Democracy
Inspired by the 1930s Federal Writers’ Project, Writing Democracy (WD) is a national network of composition/rhetoric scholars and activists committed to exploring the transformative potential of community partnerships committed to the expansion of democratic rights.

Events (abbreviated list): 

  • March 2011: The Writing Democracy Project held its first conference at Texas A&M-Commerce near Dallas, Texas, which led to the first official publication on this initiative–a special issue of Community Literacy Journal (Fall 2012). Co-Chairs: Shannon Carter and Deborah Mutnick
  • March 2012 (St. Louis, Missouri): First workshop scheduled at CCCC, entitled “Writing Democracy 2012: Envisioning a Federal Writers’ Project for the 21st Century” (https://writingdemocracy.wordpress.com/cccc-2012/). Co-Chairs: Shannon Carter and Deborah Mutnick
  • March 2013 (Las Vegas, Nevada): CCCC workshop entitled “The Political Turn: Writing Democracy for the 21st Century” (https://writingdemocracy.wordpress.com/2013-2/). Co-Chairs, Steve Parks, with Shannon Carter and Deborah Mutnick
  • March 2014 (Indianapolis, Indiana); CCCC workshop “In Search of Political Openings: (Re)Writing the Prison/Education/Military Industrial Complex,


  • This We Believe: An FWP 2.0 Project [website]

Award: Best Public Intellectual Special Issue: 

We are thrilled to report that our first major publication on Writing Democracy has won the the Council for Editors of Learned Journals 2013 Best Public Intellectual Special Issue Award (see Press Release).  The award was presented at in January 2014 Modern Language Association (MLA) conference in Chicago, Ill. This special issue on Writing Democracy includes articles by speakers featured at that March 2011 event, including historian Jerrold Hirsch (Truman State University) and leading scholars from across our discipline like Nancy Welch (University of Vermont), Elenore Long (Arizona State University), David Jolliffe (University of Arkansas), and Melissa Hall Kells (University of New Mexico). View the complete table of contents for that issue here

Community Literacy Journal, Special Issue on Writing Democracy

Community Literacy Journal, Special Issue on Writing Democracy


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