Jessica Pauszek has dedicated her career to the literacy practices of working class and other marginalized people. Her research has taken her across the pond to London where she has been an integral part of preserving over 4,000 independently published texts by The Federation of Worker Writers and Community Publishers. Many of these documents were sitting in attics and basements at risk of being lost forever. But you don’t need a passport to explore these texts because she also has worked to make them available digitally. When she is not teaching or sorting through beautiful old texts, she can probably be found watching baseball and sharing a meal with her family and friends.
A Conversation with Dr. Jessica Pauszek
What draws you to your discipline?
“Growing up in the predominantly Polish first-ward of Dunkirk, New York, I didn’t know the term working-class. But I grew up in a community of laborers — whom I saw working at print shops, ink shops, steel mills, food production plants, and the coal factory. This history motivates the work that I do focused on the literacies of everyday life or the connections between community-based identities (particularly working-class identity) and literacy. In particular, I’m interested in how marginalized communities deploy literacy for social and political purposes, and how communities can also create ideological and structural change through such practice”
Tell us about a project you are currently working on or recently completed.
“For the past eight years I have been working to preserve and archive the independently published writings of The Federation of Worker Writers and Community Publishers (FWWCP) (1976-2007). The print archive is housed at the Trades Union Congress Library in London, but we’re at the point now where we are developing a digital archive. It’s my goal to get the word out so I’ve been doing a lot of podcasting and blogging. This past year I’ve been working with Labor History Today where I’ll do a short segment about an archival publication, quote from it, explain where you can find that source, what themes are involved in that archive.”
What has been your favorite course to teach?
“I genuinely love to teach ENG 1301 because it’s the first time we ask students to think about what college level writing is and give them a chance to tell their story. Of course with our program we are focused on literacy narratives and getting students to think about how they use language and literacy in their daily lives. Even if you’re not an English major, literacy can connect to what you are doing on the sports field, in your discipline, your profession, or even in your hobbies and interests. I feel lucky to get to teaching students in their very first semester–getting to help them see that literacy is truly complex and multifaceted reminds me that ENG 1301 really is my favorite class to teach”
- Ph.D., Composition and Cultural Rhetoric, Syracuse University, 2017
- MA, English, Northeastern University, 2012
- BA, English and French, Stetson University, 2010
Honors and Awards
- Global Fellows Award, Texas A&M University-Commerce. Spring 2018.
- Mary Marshall Award, Syracuse University. April 2016.
- Working Class Literacies
- Freshman Composition
- Archival Research
- ENG 1301: College Reading and Writing