Dr. Laurie Grobman, professor of English and women?s studies at Penn State Berks, has received the 2015 Faculty Outreach Award, an award that honors faculty who have positively and substantially affected individuals, organizations, or communities through problem solving or development as a result of extending their scholarship.
Grobman focuses on interdisciplinary, community-based undergraduate research to redress the largely invisible histories of local ethnic and cultural minorities. She and her students in literature and writing courses have worked closely with the African American community, Hispanic/Latino community(ies), and Jewish communities in Berks County. Presently, they are working with the Olivet Boys & Girls Club in Reading, preserving publicly erased histories and learning about the complex intersections of race, ethnicity, gender, and class in Reading?s past 115 years.
In another project, students have interviewed 22 local African American community members about their experiences before, during, and after the Civil Rights Movement and, in conjunction with what little documented history exists, are writing a history of Reading and the Civil Rights Movement. Grobman?s recent article in College English argues that students in the local history projects are ?rhetorical citizen historians? who both produce original historical and rhetorical knowledge and promote democracy through conscious, deliberate rhetorical historical work. But these partnerships also raise complex issues of unequal, fluid, and shifting discourses among community partners, students, and faculty and, consequently, inform ways to enact publicly shared meaning in community literacy partnerships.
An article Grobman co-authored with four former students on an engaged scholarship project begun in their rhetorical theory class in Spring 2013, ?Collaborative Complexities in the Oral History Narrative of Frank Gilyard,? is forthcoming in Community Literacy Journal (2015). Intellectually situated at the intersection of writing studies, oral history, and African American rhetoric, they argue that because oral history is narrator-driven, their narrator?s death required them to remain especially attentive to the epistemic value of his voice. In another article, ??I?m on a Stage?: Rhetorical History, Performance, and the Development of Central Pennsylvania African American Museum,? published in College Composition and Communication (2013), Grobman examines Gilyard?s role in the establishment of the Central Pennsylvania African American Museum in Reading, through the dual lenses of African American rhetoric and performance studies.
?Dr. Grobman is making Penn State the link between our community and our campus, our past, and our future,? said a nominator.