The National Council of Teachers of English's Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) has named AddRan alumna Angela D. Mack (Ph.D. ’23) as the recipient of the 2024 CCCC James Berlin Outstanding Dissertation Award for her dissertation “Black Storytelling in Southside Funky Town, Texas: From the 76104 Zip Code to the Life and Legacy Work of Atatiana Carr-Jefferson as a Mattering of Black Life.”
The award honors a graduate whose dissertation improves the educational process in composition studies, or adds to the field's body of knowledge, through research or scholarly inquiry. Mack will be announced as the recipient during the CCCC Awards Presentation on Friday, April 5, during the annual convention in Spokane, Wash.
Mack's dissertation is rooted in correcting negative narratives about her community while recalibrating Atatiana’s public memory from victimhood to the dignity of her personhood. In 2023, Mack became the third Black woman to graduate from the Department of English with a Ph.D. and the first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. in her specific discipline in TCU’s 150-year history.
This isn't the first award Mack's dissertation has received. In May of last year, she was the recipient of the TCU's university-wide spring 2023 Dissertation Award.
“My dissertation pushes against every genre convention; every language expectation; every boundary of what Black-centered rhetoric and composition scholarship should look like, sound like, read like, be like; and how it should exist,” said Mack. “For people to recognize the merit of my work, a work that doesn’t shy away from truth nor critique and is deeply rooted in the celebration and care for part of the Black lived experience in Fort Worth … the significance of winning this award is not lost on me.”
"Black Storytelling in Southside Funky Town" is a multimedia project that centers on the historic and predominately Black communities of the 76104 zip code in Fort Worth. The project also amplifies the ongoing commemoration of Atatiana Carr-Jefferson, a resident of 76104 who was killed inside her home by an on-duty Fort Worth police officer responding to a welfare check in 2019. Black Storytelling is a culturally embedded practice of telling the story of the African American lived experience that shows the full range of life found in Blackness and within Black people. It serves notice that all Black life matters in Funky Town, including Mack’s own.
The CCCC James Berlin Memorial Outstanding Dissertation Awards selection committee noted:
"Through Black storytelling, which Dr. Mack defines as 'a cultural storying practice rooted in Black/African American rhetorics and composition where stories of the Black experience are shared,' the project brings us new ways of understanding a place, Funky Town, and its community, including the legacy of Atatiana Carr-Jefferson. Dr. Mack draws from autoethnography, oral histories, and archives, to push the boundaries of the dissertation genre and address grief and trauma alongside triumph and beauty, offering a model of scholarship that is personal, relevant, and accountable to the community it studies. Dr. Mack’s dissertation brings important attention to ethics and a commitment to illuminating narratives not always found in our scholarship with deep care, respect, and an anti-racist lens. Her scholarship and its weaving of history, qualitative research, and multimodality serve as a model for cutting-edge research in the field and exemplifies where the committee hopes our field will be heading in the future."
“I am honored and incredibly thankful for my dissertation being acknowledged in this way and in this time,” said Mack. “I thank my committee, my storytellers, those who helped me to obtain the material for this project and my support system through colleagues and family. I especially thank Ashley Carr, Atatiana Carr-Jefferson’s sister. None of this would have been possible without her.”
About Angela D. Mack, Ph.D.
Mack’s accomplishments include being named a 2023 Modern Languages Association Public Humanities Incubator Member; a winner of the 2023 Conference on College Composition & Communication’s Scholars for the Dream Travel Award; and winner of the Tate Prize in Composition Studies in TCU’s English Department.