UTSA launches African American Literatures and Cultures Institute

AALCI logo

AALCI logo designed by Tristan Denyer

Share this Story

(Jan. 12, 2010)--The University of Texas at San Antonio has launched the African American Literatures and Cultures Institute (AALCI) in an effort to increase the number of students pursuing academic careers in English and African-American literary studies.

The elite three-week summer program at the UTSA Main Campus, June 7-July 1, is free to selected students and will provide a $2,000 research stipend, rigorous mentoring and innovative academic training for eight college juniors selected through a competitive application process. To download an application, visit the African American Literatures and Cultures Institute Web site.

AALCI participation requirements are:

  • Must be interested in learning more about how to become a professor of African-American literary and cultural studies
  • Must be a college junior with at least one year of undergraduate studies to complete
  • Must select and work with a dedicated mentor through the graduate school application process through completion of a mentor-directed research program

"The study of African-American literature will die if there are no scholars. Thanks to funding through my UTSA endowment, I am hoping to create a pipeline across the nation's universities, so that the subfield of African-American studies within English departments remains vibrant," said Joycelyn Moody, AALCI director and UTSA Sue E. Denman Distinguished Chair in American Literature. "This will be a program to develop undergraduate students who will pursue doctoral degrees and take them into their faculty work careers."

Moody's inspiration came from the article, "Problem of the Pipeline," written by the late Nellie McKay, a famed African-American scholar and professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Written for the Publication of the Modern Language Association, the leading journal in English studies, McKay's article cites threats to the existence of the fields of English and African-American studies if professors fail to develop pipelines of students to study black literature and sustain it in the future.

"Over the last 20 years, we have seen the number of open faculty positions for all ranks in African-American literary studies decline from 50 down to nine in 2008," said Moody. "This is a threat to the field of English, a threat to the nation's multicultural history and a threat to the literary longevity."

Summer workshop instruction at the institute will be led by Howard Ramsby II, an expert in African-American studies and director of the Black Studies program at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, Ill. Ramsby also will assist students with writing samples in preparation for the GRE.

The UTSA African-American Literatures and Cultures Institute was established in fall 2009, following recommendations of an advisory council comprised of 10 of the nation's leading African-American studies scholars. The consortium of scholars, who will help support the program, recommended its creation as a response to the pressing need for diversifying all areas of academia from graduate study to advanced scholarly research.

For more information, contact Joycelyn Moody at 210-458-6857.