Brokering Community-Engaged Writing Pedagogies: Instructors Imagining and Negotiating Race, Space, and Literacy


  • Michael Blancato Roosevelt University
  • Gavin P. Johnson Christian Brothers University
  • Beverly J. Moss The Ohio State University
  • Sara Wilder University of Maryland


composition, community engagement, literacy, pedagogy, race, space


Although much scholarship on community-engaged pedagogies attends to student negotiations of difference, little attention has been paid to how instructors navigate difference, particularly racial difference, across classroom and community spaces. In this article, we use the concept of brokering to examine how seven different instructors of a community-engaged writing course titled “The Literacy Narratives of Black Columbus” imagined the racialized spaces of the course and facilitated engagement between students and community members in those spaces. Drawing primarily on instructor interviews, we present three approaches instructors took to imagine and facilitate student and community engagement across racialized and spatialized boundaries. We found that instructor positionality influenced how they imagined and negotiated the roles of brokers who could facilitate connections between students and community members as well as provide students with cultural knowledge necessary for navigating the course’s racialized spaces. Ultimately, we argue that instructors, particularly in predominantly white institutions, must carefully consider race, space, place, and their own positionalities when planning and implementing community-engaged pedagogies.

Author Biographies

Michael Blancato, Roosevelt University

Prof. Michael Blancato is the Director of Undergraduate Writing and an Assistant Teaching ​Professor of English at Roosevelt University. His research and teaching focus on rhetoric and composition, with an emphasis on digital media composing and community-engaged writing. Prof. Blancato's scholarly work can be found in Computers and Composition and the Journal of College Literacy and Learning.  

Gavin P. Johnson, Christian Brothers University

Gavin P. Johnson (he/him/his) is a scholar-teacher specializing in multimodal writing, queer rhetorics, and community-engaged learning. He currently works as an assistant professor at Christian Brothers University in Memphis, TN, where he coordinates the Professional Writing Certificate. His research receives national recognition, including the 2021 NCTE/CCCC Lavender Rhetorics Dissertation Award for Excellence in Queer Scholarship and an Honorable Mention for the 2020 Computers and Composition Hugh Burns Best Dissertation Award. His research is published in Composition Studies, Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Computers and Composition, College Literacy and Learning, Constellations: A Cultural Rhetorics Publishing Space, Peitho, Pre/Text: A Journal of Rhetorical Theory, Teacher-Scholar-Activist, and various edited collections. Dr. Johnson is a proud first-generation college graduate from southeast Louisiana.  

Beverly J. Moss, The Ohio State University

Beverly J. Moss is an associate professor of English at The Ohio State University where she specializes in composition and literacy studies. Her scholarly and pedagogical interests include examining literacy in African American community spaces, composition theory and pedagogy, and writing center theory and practice. She is the author of A Community Text Arises: A Literate Text and A Literacy Tradition in African American Churches, co-author of Everyone’s an Author (composition textbook), editor of Literacy Across Communities, and co-editor of Writing Groups Inside and Outside the Classroom and The Best of the Independent Journals in Rhetoric and Composition 2012. Professor Moss currently serves on the editorial board of Community Literacy Journal and also serves on the advisory board of the Coalition on Community Writing, In addition, she directs the English department's Second-Year Writing program at Ohio State. A former faculty member of the Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English, Professor Moss is now the director of the Middlebury College Bread Loaf Teacher Network, a professional development network of current and former Bread Loaf fellows who teach in public schools in rural and urban settings.  

Sara Wilder, University of Maryland

Dr. Sara Wilder is an Assistant Professor of English at University of Maryland, College Park, where she teaches courses in writing and rhetoric. Her research focuses on collaborative writing pedagogies in writing centers, classrooms, and communities. Her scholarship has appeared in Written Communication, and she is currently developing a book on multidisciplinary writing groups.  




How to Cite

Michael Blancato, Gavin P. Johnson, Beverly J. Moss, & Sara Wilder. (2022). Brokering Community-Engaged Writing Pedagogies: Instructors Imagining and Negotiating Race, Space, and Literacy. Literacy in Composition Studies, 9(1), 23–46. Retrieved from