By their very nature, academics want to stake out their own territory, to both conceive of and claim some radical new idea. But for the last four years, Rice’s Anthony Pinn, the Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and a professor of religion, has had a very different mandate for his graduate students: collaborate, even if it means no longer receiving full credit. The result is a new book, “Embodiment and Black Religion: Rethinking the Body in African-American Religious Experience,” published by Equinox in 2017 under a group authorship, the CERCL Writing Collective.
“Embodiment and Black Religion: Rethinking the Body in African-American Religious Experience,” published by Equinox in 2017 under a group authorship, Rice’s CERCL Writing Collective.
Pinn is the founding director of Rice’s Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning (CERCL), which promotes the application of critical thinking skills, the use of innovative communication techniques and the engagement of a wide-ranging set of perspectives to create new scholarly works and new generations of leaders. The Writing Collective’s first book, “Breaking Bread, Breaking Beats,” examined the intersection of hip-hop and religion and what religious organizations should know about hip-hop culture.
Books written by multiple authors aren’t new; however, the approach taken by the CERCL Writing Collective is novel. “There are co-authored volumes, but typically you still have a sense of ownership over the piece and the voices are still somewhat distinct,” Pinn said. “My hope is that with our process, that kind of distinctiveness is lost, because we don’t maintain ownership over this initial idea. It gets massaged and reworked as part of a group effort. And I hope as a result the ideas are richer and more complex.”
Eight graduate students rotated in and out over the four-year writing and editing process, including Jessica Davenport, Justine Bakker, Cleve Tinsley IV, Biko Mandela Gray, David Kline, …