Call for Proposals - CWPA Sponsored Sessions at MLA

Call for Proposals - CWPA Sponsored Sessions at MLA 2011 (January 6-9, Los Angeles, CA)

The WPA Executive Board and the Liaison Subcommittee (Susan Thomas, Chair; Chuck Paine, Acting Chair, Joe Janangelo, Beth Brunk-Chavez) invite 250-word proposals for individual presentations contributing to two panels to be held at the January 6 - 9, 2011, convention of the Modern Language Association in Los Angeles, CA. We invite proposals from postsecondary instructors, program or writing center directors, department chairs, or anyone else with an interest in postsecondary writing instruction or program direction. 

 Proposals for either panel must be received no later than Friday, February 26, 2010. Please send your proposals as email attachments (Word, RTF, but not PDF) to, and please include this phrase in your email's subject line: "MLA Proposal." We will make final decisions about panels by March 26. All presenters must be members of MLA (you may join after learning your proposal has been accepted).

Under MLA's new affiliate guidelines, only one CWPA panel is guaranteed acceptance at the conference, and the other will be reviewed by the MLA Program Committee. The CWPA Liaison Committee will determine which of the two panels to submit for MLA review after it reviews submissions.

Panel 1: What Is College Level Writing in the 21st Century?

With the publication of Sullivan and Tinberg's What Is "College-Level" Writing? (NCTE, 2006) and other parallel works (e.g., Beaufort's College Writing and Beyond and Carroll's Rehearsing New Roles), the discussions about "college-level" writing have become more vigorous, prominent, and diverse.

Stakeholders in these discussions include writing instructors and program directors, of course, but also college and high-school faculty and administrators from across the disciplines, professional organizations, and other groups attempting to influence public policy.

At stake are the very ideas about what students should learn in college writing classes, how they should learn those things, and why. For some, college-level writing should focus on "career readiness," a term that is used with increasing frequency in policy circles, while others argue college writing should cultivate students' senses of themselves as writers operating in multiple contexts, and others argue for positions along and beyond this continuum.

For this panel, we invite proposals that address issues related to the question, "What is college-level writing in the twenty-first century?" Panelists might address these and/or other questions:

  • What are the origins of this discussion, where is it at the present time, and where does it appear to be going?
  • How do recent discussions about 21st century literacies figure into definitions of college-level writing?
  • How should writing program directors and instructors prepare first-year composition students -- for "WAC readiness," career readiness, or for civic responsibility and engagement?
  • Which media, modes, and genres will undergraduates and college graduates be expected to have mastered? 
  • How will WAC/WID programs need to change in order to meet changing demands of college instructors and programs, and the demands of the workforce beyond college?
  • What research questions and types of research are needed?
  • Who has not been involved in these discussions? Who else should be involved?

We have framed these questions not to constrict the range of ideas proposed but rather to encourage proposals that contribute a fresh and wide variety of topics and approaches.

Panel 2:Writing Programs, Hard Times, and Effective Actions

The current recession (termed "The Late-200s Recession" and even "The Great Recession") has affected almost every part of higher education, from budget cuts to enrollment booms. But some might argue that times have always been hard for writing programs, which seem to reside perennially in depression-era America--where it's always 1931. But are things different with this economic downturn? What can past economic booms and busts teach us about the future of writing programs?

For this panel, we invite proposals that address this question: "How have WPAs and writing programs been affected and how have they been effective during hard times?" Panelists might address these and/or other questions:

  • What has happened—historically and recently— during recessions or depressions? What are the models from the past and present that we should adopt, adapt, or reject?
  • How have labor issues been affected by current economic conditions?
  • How have programs and teachers responded in terms of curricula, hiring, pedagogical approaches, course delivery, administrative responsibilities, and other strategies? 
  • How have writing programs been set up or altered to make them relatively resistant to recessions and recessions? If not, how could they be set up to be "recession resistant"?

We have framed these questions not to constrict the range of ideas proposed but rather to encourage proposals that contribute a fresh approach to a wide variety of topics.