The People’s College: Race, Rhetoric, and Higher Education Reform in New York, 1965-1981


Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowships


Communication Arts


“The People’s College” is a rhetorical history of the student press in New York City’s public community colleges during the post-civil rights era. The project uses a combination of microhistorical methods, critical historiography, and critical race theory to center the writing lives of African American and Latinx student communities in the social history of higher education reform. By analyzing ephemeral texts in the history of rhetorical education — zines, disorientation guides, and campus newspapers — this project narrates student efforts by students across four community college campuses to use writing and rhetoric as a means of building social, economic, and political networks during the coterminous rise of the Black Campus and Puerto Rican student movements. Broadening the archive of relevant texts to include self-sponsored community writing enables a retelling of the history of higher education reform as a student initiated cultural project of rhetorical and linguistic resistance rather than a neoliberal project of remediation.