Cindy wearing a blue jacket and gesturing with her hands

Professor Cynthia "Cindy" Selfe first got interested in technology and composition when she was forced in 1979–1980 to write her dissertation on the computer because she didn't have money to pay a typist. Because so few people were familiar with computers at that time, "that particular experience made me an 'absolute expert' in English studies," Professor Selfe said with a wink.

However, to Professor Selfe, it has been her love of stories that has guided her towards establishing the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (DALN), an achievement she hopes will become a legacy: "Every story is really cool and shed light on that infinite variety of human understandings and values and activities that we term 'literacy.'... You can get such perspectival glimpses into into people's literate lives through the telling of stories."

In speaking of the impact of the DALN she said, "We now have, as a profession, a common corpus of literacy narratives that anybody can study, and that everybody can study." She further argued that large communal projects like the DALN and the Computers and Composition Digital Press, though requiring a lot of effort, leave a legacy that "provide ground for the whole profession to prosper.... It gives the profession an understanding of what can happen when you take on these big humanities projects." Moreover, argued Professor Selfe:

It shows what we can do when we put our heads together in a collective effort to create something that everybody can benefit from if they have a connection to the internet.... If we don’t do it, who's going to do it? And if we don't do it now, when are we ever going to start an effort like that?

She advised new scholars to "be bold" in digital work and collaborative work and to also spend some time "tending the communal garden, looking after things like the Digital Archive...because each of those projects takes a lot of work." Professor Selfe, always the mentor, argued that new scholars should dive into their passions and "make their contributions that they can be proud of in 20 or 30 years when somebody asks them 'what did you do?'"

This interview was conducted in the Fall of 2015, while Professor Selfe was teaching her last year at The Ohio State University before retiring in 2016.