When Holly Charles walked into the defense for her English M.A. thesis in 2013, she didn’t know what to expect. Her committee (Dr. Robert Kirschten, Dr. Clay Hooper, and Dr. DeLinda Marzette) asked tough questions about her creative work, Velvet, based on the women in her family.
Then they advised her to get it published.
Charles did just that, raising money from trusted family and friends by talking about her book and reading excerpts. She came to Prairie View A&M on March 20, 2014, as part of the Women’s History Month program, to give another book talk to an intimate group of students. “We don’t talk about common tragedies,” she explained. The traumas that befall so many — specifically, tragedies related to colorism — aren’t discussed, and prejudices continue to be passed down through the generations. Holly read “Stones,” a selection from Velvet about Ludie, whose dark, shiny skin causes not only insults but also physical assaults, to the hushed crowd, which then started opening up about their own experiences with family members who preferred lighter or darker skin tones.
Velvet is available in print and ebook formats from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
A group of twelve students from the Communication Research course, COMM 4533, traveled to the “Doing Autoethnography Conference” at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas from February 27th-March 1st with Drs. Amber Johnson and Jennifer Erdely. Students attended workshops on Performance, Writing, Social Justice, and Ethics in Autoethnography.
ESPN sportscaster Stephen A. Smith will be on campus February 8, 2014. It won’t be for the TSU and PVAMU basketball game, though we hope that he’ll make his way there. Instead, he is the keynote speaker for the Department of Languages and Communication’s inaugural Communication Week, February 3-6, 2014, and for the 2014 National HBCU Student News Media Conference, February 6-8, also hosted by the department and PVAMU.
The Department of Languages and Communication will hold its inaugural Communication Week February 3-6, 2014, for the 250 majors in the communication program. “We’ll host over 25 speakers from California, Washington, D.C., and New York, to Michigan and Texas, in classroom lectures, roundtables, workshops, and professional office hours,” says Dr. James Palmer, department head.
Coordinator Lewis Smith and assistant professor Toniesha Taylor have been instrumental in arranging the program with Palmer. As Taylor explains, students will meet with communication professionals and practitioners to examine and discuss career opportunities and interests in public relations, journalism, media production, documentary film making, and academic careers, among others.
“We’ll have hands-on workshops in media production, resume and portfolio development, and landing jobs in Hollywood and beyond,” emphasizes Palmer, “and PVAMU alumni will be instrumental in the week’s success.” A few of the accomplished communication alumni participants include:
- Charles E. Williams, Jr. (’84), Producer, Director, and Editor CBS-TV in New York
- Shedrick Cortez Stokes (’84), CEO SCS Films
- Kayla Tucker Adams (‘97), Senior Director of Public Relations, The Potter House and T.D. Jakes Ministries
- Sheleah Hughes Reed (’01), PVAMU Executive Director of Communications
- Richard White (’09), Production Assistant and Assignment Editor, KTRK ABC-TV
- Amen Oyiboke-Osifo (’11), MA student at the University of Southern California.
Communication coordinator Lewis Smith of the Department of Languages and Communication has been selected by the U.S. State Department to present a series of lectures to communication students, faculty, and journalists in Ghana from Aug. 12 to 17.
Smith will speak on “Press Freedom: American Perspectives and the Significance of a Free and Vibrant Media” to several undergraduate audiences and lead a seminar for senior journalism students at the African University College of Communications in Accra. He will deliver a lecture also to practicing journalists at the International Press Center. Smith will travel from Accra to the northern city of Tamale to lead a symposium for students and faculty, and give a presentation to regional journalists on how the media best serve local economies and development.
The State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs is funding the trip and the U.S. Embassy in Ghana and the African University College of Communications are organizing the schedule of activities.
The students in Dr. Jennifer Erdely’s Voice and Performance course for Summer 2013 focused on communicating about social issues through performance art and installation performances. By creating “Tableaux Vivants,” or living pictures, the students became living, moving, breathing, and feeling works of art. Using Kevin DeLuca’s “Imaging Social Movements” and Augusto Boal’s “Image Theatre” as inspiration, the students brainstormed issues that affect them and ways that they could protest these issues through creative performances rather than through traditional forms of protest. With artist Robert Hodge’s exhibit in the 4th Floor Gallery of the J.B. Coleman Library on June 17th as the backdrop, communication students pushed boundaries to make provocative political and social statements.
Tableaux included the following:
- “Freedom” by Chappell Moore and Victoria Pham
- “New Noose” by Rodney Alexander
- “Puppets of Society” by Shelly Travis and Jasmine Walker
- “Screaming Shadows of Struggle” by Janae Anderson, Sharnell Lee, and Breigha Walker
- “Shadow Exchange” by Shamaria Knowles, Michael Pittman, and Michael Ross-Haynes
- “Tales of Shade” by Jazmine Lofton and Ke’Tara Wells
On May 11, 2013, the Department of Languages and Communication graduated 35 students in two different ceremonies:
- Five students completed the Master of Arts in English. In Fall 2013, four are slated to teach dual-credit English III and IV courses in the Cy-Fair, Katy, and Tomball Independent School Districts.
- Eight students completed the Bachelor of Arts in English. Many plan to pursue teaching certification at the high school level, if not law school or other graduate studies.
- Twenty-two students completed the Bachelor of Arts in Communication. They have a diverse set of career plans — film, radio, public relations, student affairs, sports marketing, acting — and most have set their sights on a graduate degree in the next five years.
from left-to-right: (rear row) Chelsea Daly, Ariel Henson, Katharine Brown, Atlanti’a McDonald; (middle row) Marissa Berry, De’Andria Bogney, Chelsea Dennis, Rachel Weathers; (seated at table) H. Samy Alim and Geneva Smitherman.
On Thursday, April 11, 2013, a group of students enrolled in Dr. Terri Pantuso’s History of the English Language class attended the “Speaking While Black [or Brown]: Language and Race” symposium at the University of Texas at San Antonio. The students in attendance studied Articulate While Black: Barack Obama, Language and Race in the U.S. written by two of the featured speakers, Dr. H. Samy Alim and Dr. Geneva Smitherman.
Dr. Alim is an Associate Professor in Educational Linguistics with courtesy appointments in Anthropology and Linguistics at Stanford University. His research interests and publications center on topics related to language, literacy, youth culture (particularly Hip Hop Culture) and critical language awareness for socially marginalized and linguistically profiled populations. PV students were thrilled to discuss with Dr. Alim his research on pedagogical linguistic practices as well as his work with artists such as Common.
Dr. Smitherman is University Distinguished Professor Emerita, Department of English; Co-Founder, Core Faculty and former Acting Director of African American and African Studies; and Core Faculty of the African Studies Center at Michigan State University. She has authored, edited and co-edited over 15 books and monographs as well as over 125 articles and essays. Her publications focus on African American Language and language rights for disenfranchised communities in the U.S. and around the globe. PV students were honored to speak directly with Dr. Smitherman about their academic and lived experiences in her field of study. One student, Rachel Weathers, remarked to Dr. Smitherman that she has felt since middle school that Black English was a distinct language. When asked by Dr. Smitherman how she came to this understanding, Ms. Weathers replied, “I just feel it.” To this, Dr. Smitherman responded with a smile, fist bump, and remark to Ms. Weathers to “Keep on.”
In addition to the book talk, students listened to panelists speak about research related to language and race on topics such as code-switching among middle-class African Americans, language and biraciality, and secondary teaching practices with brown and/or black students. The keynote address was delivered by Dr. John Baugh, Margaret Bush Wilson Professor in Arts & Sciences and Professor of Linguistics at Washington University in St. Louis and Professor Emeritus in English Linguistics at Stanford University. Dr. Baugh’s address focused on the linguistic consequences of slavery in the U.S. which is in keeping with his primary research throughout his career. Dr. Baugh’s work on the social stratification of linguistic behavior in multicultural and multilingual nations has been influential in both academia and public policy, and the students in attendance enjoyed speaking with him one-on-one regarding their own research and professional interests.
Yes, that is the Eiffel Tower you see! In March 2013, three Prairie View A&M students accompanied Dr. Toniesha Taylor, Assistant Professor of Communication, to the International Media Seminar in Paris. Communication majors BriAna Franklin and Tezya Jackson as well as finance and accounting major JaLacia Powell attended sessions featuring the editors of Time Magazine‘s European edition, a correspondent for CNN International, and noted journalists. When not networking with global professionals, the students attended the Notre Dame cathedral, cruised the River Seine, and navigated the French Metro system.
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