Islander English Faculty Win 2021 National Book Award

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Two faculty in the Department of English at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi were part of a three-editor team that won a 2021 Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) Advancement of Knowledge Award for the publication, “Bordered Writers: Latinx Identities and Literacy Practices at Hispanic-Serving Institutions.” The Advancement of Knowledge Award honors an empirical research publication in the previous two years that most advances writing studies, the National Council of Teachers of English said in a news release.

Drs. Yndalecio Hinojosa, TAMU-CC associate professor of English, and Susan Wolff-Murphy, TAMU-CC associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and professor of English, co-edited “Bordered Writers” along with Dr. Isabel Baca, associate professor of English at The University of Texas at El Paso.

“Bordered Writers” builds on the work featured in the 2007 collection, “Teaching Writing with Latino/a Students: Lessons Learned at Hispanic-Serving Institutions,” which Wolff-Murphy co-edited along with fellow Island University English Department faculty members Drs. Cristina Kirklighter and Diana Cárdenas. In addition, Baca served as contributor to the 2007 collection.

“With this collection, I wanted to update the conversation with more recent scholarship and to respond in some ways to the intensified political context, which was people being locked up at the border and more intensive anti-immigrant rhetoric,” Wolff-Murphy said. “The population of Latinx students continues to grow, and more universities and faculty are encountering more diverse students in their classrooms. I hope the experiences and research in the book will help those faculty respond in productive ways.” 

The recent project’s origins date back to February 2014 when Wolff-Murphy first invited Hinojosa to participate; Baca was invited to serve as co-editor in fall 2015. The trio sent out a call for proposals that same year, Hinojosa said.

“We reviewed those proposals and selected contributions. Authors then submitted chapters for review in 2016. We read all the chapters and decided which pieces to include. From there, each contributor received two reviews from us as editors,” Hinojosa said. “We divided the work evenly. All the contributions had to be original unpublished work.”

“Bordered Writers” features 10 essays that appear in four sections: Developmental English and Bridge Programs, First-Year Writing, Professional and Technical Writing, and Writing Centers and Mentored Writing. It also features 5 testimonios – described by Wolff-Murphy as autobiographical sketches that occur between chapters – including one from a student.

“We wanted this book to be different in some way from the first book. The first book emphasized how important it was to include lived experiences and/or voices by Latinx students in academic spaces,” Hinojosa said. “We felt that this new edition had to live up to that call in some way, so we wanted to include ‘testimonios,’ reflections of lived experiences by Latinx identities.”

Wolff-Murphy said receiving the CCCC Award is one of the biggest honors of her academic career.

“To be recognized by peers at a national/international level is humbling. Credit needs to be shared with all our authors, who did amazing research and wrote pieces that are not just solid scholarship and testimonios, but demonstrate the passion they have for their work,” she said. 

Hinojosa said the pandemic had made it difficult to gauge how the well the book was received by the academic community, so the award came as a complete surprise to him. However, he points to the contributors as well as a skilled and experienced editorial team as keys to the book’s success.

“As an editorial team, we had a strong make-up,” Hinojosa said. “Dr. Wolff-Murphy was an editor on the first book, and Dr. Baca was a contributor in the first book. And, I was a student who studied the first book and relied on it for my own approach to teaching at HSIs and working with Latinx students. Ten years later, we all joined to bring the second book to the public and to showcase how much the field has evolved and grown.”

The CCCC is a constituent organization with more than 4,000 members and subscribers within the National Council of Teachers of English, which has more than 25,000 individual and institutional members worldwide. The first Advancement of Knowledge Award was awarded in 2012; this is the first time TAMU-CC faculty have received the award.