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Lion VoicesSeptember 18, 2023

Faculty Voices: Dr. Cammie Sublette

Written By: Ian Silvester

Hailing from Hannibal, Missouri, the boyhood of Mark Twain, Dr. Cammie Sublette has found herself immersed in the world of literacy for as long as she can remember. That work continues today, more than 400 miles away, in University of Arkansas – Fort Smith classrooms.

She began her higher education journey studying nursing at Culver-Stockton College in Canton, MO. She transferred to Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, MO, after two years and changed the direction of her academic plan.

“I had this bug, this passion for reading and writing,” she said as she recalled changing her major from nursing to English. Inspired by two of her professors and her mom’s career as a teacher, Sublette began to see herself teaching as well.

As a Pell Grant recipient, Sublette found stability at Northwest Missouri State University. She graduated with her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from there and joked about the odd jobs she worked during that time and how they relate to her current role as a professor of English at UAFS.

“I started working in a movie theater in high school and continued that through my first few years of college,” Sublette said. “I teach film classes now, so I love that I got to draw that into my profession eventually because I saw a lot of movies from the back of the theater.”

Hearing screams, chainsaws, or maniacal laughing from her office is no cause for alarm. As a horrorphile, Sublette thrives on suspense and has taught students the deeper meanings of horror films. One of her favorites is Jordan Peel’s “Get Out,” which combines horror with the contemporary commentary on racism.

Despite her love of scary movies, growing up in the shadow of one of the most recognizable names in literature, Sublette’s interest in Twain found its way into her Ph.D., which she earned from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

“My dissertation was focused for me before I even realized it was focused for me,” she stated. “I wrote about the literary representations of lynching and the importance of literature in telling the stories of victims. … There was even a short story essay by Twain that I encountered very early on called “The United States of Lyncherdom” (1901), which is really, really critical of the United States and the then ongoing lynching of black men, women, and children.”

Sublette’s work at UAFS has centered around African American and American literature and film since she was hired in 2003. However, her work outside the classroom with fellow UAFS faculty has made some of the most impactful influences at UAFS.

In addition to teaching, Sublette is the Title III Strengthening Institution Programming (SIP) Grant Director. The SIP grant allows higher education institutions that are recipients to focus on an area of programming with a certain amount of need. In 2019, Sublette and Professor and Director of Writing Monica Luebke co-authored a SIP grant to improve spaces that help students strengthen academic literacy, and thus, the Writing Center was founded. In Oct. 2020, the Writing Center doors opened for the entire UAFS community.

Describing how proud she is of the Writing Center’s success, Sublette said the center began with under 700 appointments for the year. However, the 2022-2023 academic year ended with nearly 6,000 meetings, surpassing their end-of-year-five goal.

“It’s a testament to the strength of the people we’ve hired,” she smiled as she bragged about Writing Center Director Dr. Mary Lutze.

UAFS has allowed Sublette to work with current and former students on projects she is fond of. With a passion for cooking, one project that was near and dear to her combined food and pop culture.

Sublette and former student Jennifer Martin edited and wrote portions of “Devouring Cultures: Perspectives on Food, Power, and Identity from the Zombie Apocalypse to Downton Abbey.” She firmly believes “food connects us,” and when she isn’t connecting literature and media to food, you can find Sublette in the kitchen frying up some chicken – almost as good as her grandma made it.

When she isn’t perfecting her fried chicken recipe or reading a book by Toni Morrison, Twain, or Colson Whitehead, Sublette is fascinated by AI and what it has the potential to do in the world of education. But when she really wants to disconnect, Sublette hits the water as an avid angler. Reeling in bass and trout is her favorite pastime when she isn’t tending to her farm and spending time with her kids and ten pets.

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