CFP: Identity and Status in First-Year Writing (proposed collection)

Proposed Collection: Identity and Status in First-Year Writing

Editors: Elizabeth Kimball, Melissa Nicolas, and Karen Schiler

In the introduction to (E)Merging Identities, Melissa Nicolas suggests that graduate students working in writing centers often have an indeterminate identity, “betwixt and between” that of faculty, student, administrator, and client (1). This shifting between and among identities, sometimes even in the same day (3-4), creates a dynamic and complicated space within which graduate students negotiate their relationships with others in the institution. Likewise, the first-year writing program represents a similar space where first-year writing teachers and program administrators hold many different institutional positions. Both in the classroom and in the administration of the program, faculty and WPAs are constantly negotiating their identities and institutional roles. Further complicating these negotiations on the disciplinary level is the passage of time. If we understand the contemporary beginning of composition/rhetoric as a field to be the late 1970s early 1980s when writing teachers like Mina Shaugnessy, Linda Flower, John Hays, Peter Elbow, Lisa Ede, and Andrea Lunsford started researching and theorizing their teaching and Stephen North published the foundational The Making of Knowledge in Composition then, as a field, we have moved into a second (and perhaps third) generation of teachers and scholars. As a consequence, not only are teachers and WPAs reading their identities with and through their local institutional contexts but they are also responding and reacting to some of the foundational stories in the field (see Nicolas “Why” 3-4).

This collection, Identity and Status in the First-Year Writing Program, explores the complex ways identity and status are negotiated, challenged and enacted in first-year writing programs. We are especially interested in how these complexities may reflect an awareness of one’s generation, or wave, within the history of the field. By asking teachers and administrators to reflect on their positionality, this volume situates the first-year writing classroom and program as a meaningful site of inquiry into the ways in which personal and professional identity issues are in constant negotiation both locally and disciplinarily.
We seek essays that expand on any of the following:

• What is it like to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in May and 3 months later be in charge of a college classroom? What role does age play in the writing classroom? How are authority and identity negotiated? What role(s) does sex/gender/race/ability play in shaping your identity?
• In what ways is a postdoctoral position different from a teaching assistant position or an adjunct position? In what ways does the post doctoral status—as “in between” graduate student and faculty—affect identity in the writing classroom? In what ways does being a post-doc affect your identity as an administrator?
• What is it like to move from graduate student to adjunct faculty? Does this move affect your authority in the classroom? Your identity?
• If you are adjunct faculty at several different schools with different student populations, different missions, and different first-year curriculums, how do you adjust your classroom teaching style to reflect the changes? How does the constant switching affect your professional identity?
• As you moved from graduate student to assistant professor, what were some of the identity issues that you faced in the classroom? What role(s) does sex/gender/race/ability play in shaping your identity?
• If you are a non-tenured or non-tenure track WPA, how does not having tenure shape your identity as an administrator? In what ways does your institutional status affect your professional personae?
• As you moved from non-tenured assistant professor to tenured associate professor, what were some of the identity issues you faced in the classroom? What role(s) does sex/gender/race/ability play in shaping your identity? Once your received tenure, did your classroom identity change? Did your identity as an administrator change? Why or why not?
• As you moved from associate professor to full professor, what were some of the identity issues that you faced in the classroom? As an administrator? What role(s) does sex/gender/race/ability play in shaping your identity?
• Since the first-year writing classroom is one of the only spaces on campus filled with first-year students who are also negotiating new identities, in what ways do their negotiations of self impact your negotiations of self?
• If you are a graduate student whose explicit goal is not to become a writing teacher or a WPA, yet you find yourself in either (or both) of those roles, how do you reconcile these competing interests?
• How might the ways in which we cultivate our identities as WPAs and writing teachers influence/impact/affect those not inside composition and rhetoric?
• In what ways has the evolution of composition/rhetoric as a field affected your understanding of yourself as a teacher and/or administrator?
• Are there ways in which new ideas or realities about teaching in or administering composition programs place you in conflict/debate with some of the foundational knowledge of the field?

Projected timeline:
Requests for full manuscripts sent out by Jan. 2012
Full manuscripts needed by July 2012

Please send abstracts of no more than 500 words by October 15, 2011 to . Questions can also be sent to the same address.