Current Projects


Mary Armstrong,  Houston, Texas, 1936.

“Reading Slavery, Writing Freedom.” The project examines and represents visually information on the literacy experiences of formerly enslaved people, using data from three collections at the Library of Congress: “Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1938”; “Portraits of African American ex-slaves from the U.S. Works Progress Administration”; and “Voices from the Days of Slavery.”

Selected Publications

CEsep2014Bowen, B. & Nantz, K. (2014). “What is the Value of the GED?” College English, 77 (1): 34-56.  Drawing on interviews, participant observation, and census and economic data, this article examines the value of the GED for students at a community-based urban literacy center. After exploring assumptions about literacy implicit in the GED writing test, the article assesses the economic and noneconomic impacts of the GED.

EEjan2014-2Smith, E., Bowen, B., & Dohm, F. (2014). “Contradictory and Missing Voices in English Education: An Invitation to English Faculty.” English Education, 46 (2): 117-140. This article offers both a rationale & a proposal for the meaningful contribution of English faculty to the preparation of English teachers.We draw on data from teacher licensure tests and interviews with English & English Education faculty to underscore contradictions among the various voices in English education & identify ways of bringing English faculty meaningfully into the conversation.

Reflections v8.n2Bowen, B. (Spring 2009). “‘I was a stranger’: Creating a campus-wide commitment to migration.” Reflections: A Journal of Writing, Community Literacy, & Service Learning, 8 (2): 94-114.




CLJ 2007 1.2Bowen, B. (2007).  “Putting women at the center: Sustaining a woman-centered literacy program.”  Community Literacy Journal, 1 (2): 57-70. For nineteen years, Mercy Learning Center, a community-based literacy organization, has provided basic literacy instruction to low-income women in Bridgeport, Connecticut. During that time it has grown from three students and two tutors to 450 students, 155 tutors, and five full-time teachers. Using a “holistic approach within a compassionate, supportive community,” the Center provides instruction that goes beyond what is usually considered basic literacy. The Center’s expansive view of basic literacy has helped it respond to the changing needs and demographics of its community.