Call for Proposals: WPA-sponsored Sessions at the 2008 MLA Conference, San Francisco, CA, December 27-30, 2008

MLA President Gerald Graff has chosen the theme of teaching for the 2008 MLA Conference, encouraging panels on related topics. Professor Graff has noted that “I’ve come to think of the MLA conventions themselves as sites of teaching and learning,” going on (echoing the 1998 Boyer Commission Report) that “what the complaints about the research-teaching conflict overlook is how much of our research has come increasingly to contribute to our teaching.” Clearly, those of us in Rhetoric and Composition have much to say on this topic, and as such, the two WPA-sponsored panels will focus on the ways our writing programs have consistently focused on teaching and its surrounding scholarly activities.

This theme clearly provides us with the opportunity to shine, and so the subcommittee on WPA at MLA (Dominic Delli Carpini, Joseph Janangelo, and Rita Malenczyk) looks forward to accepting proposals for papers for the following two sessions. Proposals should be sent via email to Dominic Delli Carpini at by March 15th. Inquiries or clarifications are also welcome.

The full call is also attached as a word document

Session 1: Preparing the Professorate as Teachers: Innovations in Rhetoric and Composition Programs

As attention to the quality of teaching in colleges and universities continues to gain the interest of government agencies and the wider public, writing programs are uniquely situated to take the lead in showing off the types of techniques we have developed toward preparing faculty to teach writing, including TA-training seminars, pedagogy-based graduate and undergraduate courses, and faculty development initiatives. This session invites papers that study the ways that writing programs, including both graduate and undergraduate programs, have committed themselves to making teaching a valued and central facet of the professorate’s work. Papers discussing how the work of preparing faculty as teachers as well as scholars is accomplished at one’s home institution are welcome, as are wider studies that demonstrate trends among writing programs and/or contextualize local work within national trends. While papers on any related area are welcome, some possible topics include:
• Innovations in TA Training
• Innovative graduate or undergraduate coursework related to the teaching of writing
• Methods of formative assessment for new college teachers
• Surveys of methods for preparing writing teachers used at various institutions
• Methods for preparing faculty in areas of special need, including work with underrepresented groups or differently-abled students
• The inclusion of new media in teacher preparation
• Preparing teachers to work with in the multi-language classroom
Proposals should be sent via email to
Dominic Delli Carpini at by March 15th.

Session 2: The Scholarship of Teaching: How Writing Programs Support Teaching-Centered Research

A story: Not long ago, a discussion was held in small-college English department about the necessary requirements for scholarly activity to achieve tenure. Within that discussion, one area of dispute was whether teaching-based research should be considered commensurate with other forms of research. From the perspective of writing programs, of course, such discussions likely seem antithetical to much of the work we do, both as teachers and as researchers. This panel invites presentations that discuss the ways writing programs have had a leading role in supporting and encouraging research related to teaching. While papers on any related area are welcome, some possible topics include:
• surveys of Rhetoric/Composition’s history of teaching-based research,
• specific examples of ways that programs have given support and visibility to pedagogical research
• Discussion of innovations in the methodologies of pedagogical research within writing programs
• Discussions of graduate coursework that prepares future faculty for conducting teaching-based research
• Suggestions for further advancing the program of research within writing programs nationally and locally
• Discussions of the impact of teacher-based research on undergraduate teaching
• The relationship between writing programs and research in the field of education
• “Success stories” where teachers have used their pedagogical work to earn tenure and/or promotion
Proposals should be sent via email to
Dominic Delli Carpini at by March 15th.

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