*update: we have been able to extend the submission deadline to Monday, June 8!
I’m writing as the CCCC 2021 in Spokane Program Chair, in this more informal format (my occasionally used blog) to share some information about CCCC 2021 in Spokane, particularly how and why the program will be constructed, and the ways that I am collaborating with CCCC 2020 Program Chair Julie Lindquist to work to balance flexibility with continuity in the midst of the pandemic and the accompanying constraints and stressors that have resulted from it.
CCCC and TYCA 2020 Online Sharing: Hopefully you have received the information about how to share materials online, available here: CCCC and TYCA 2020 Online. In the absence of an in-person meeting in 2020, Julie and I worked with the CCCC and NCTE staff to consider the various needs and material constraints that members of our field are facing right now, particularly for those whose participation is connected to employment evaluation like retention, merit, tenure, and promotion:
- Documenting Your Acceptance: Many presenters who planned to attend were still in the process of preparing their materials. For those whose current circumstances whether through childcare responsibilities, illness, other caregiving, financial circumstances, etc have made it infeasible to complete what they planned to present in Milwaukee, the peer-reviewed acceptance in the CCCC program can and should be documented on professional documents with a note that the convention was cancelled. For example, I had a panel presentation accepted but had not yet had a chance to draft my presentation; I’ll list that one on my professional materials as “accepted” with a parenthetical note (*conference cancelled).
- Documenting Posted Work: For those presenters who had completed their materials AND have the professional and personal ability to disseminate those materials at this time, the online repository provides a way to disseminate research, advance projects, etc., particularly those that, for various reasons, are not “portable” to the next year. The online space provides an opportunity to share that work, but no member or accepted program presenter should feel obligated to upload materials if it is not aligned with their professional and personal needs and abilities at this time. For example, as a member of a Task Force that planned to present results of a national survey that had been in the works for over a year, I had already worked with my group to prepare a presentation document. That one made sense to post to the TYCA online sharing site, and I’ll list that one as I normally would on my professional documents without an asterisk or qualifying remark.
CCCC 2021: Spokane
The timeline for convention planning is such that the CFP for Spokane has been in development for nearly six months. At the time of the conference cancellation, the convention database for proposal submission was in the process of being built. Quite a number of complex issues, then, have shaped the subsequent work to plan for the 2021 convention.
CCCC chair Julie Lindquist and her team have worked tirelessly for nearly 2 years to develop the Milwaukee program and convention experience. Some of that work was very place-based and tied to the location; quite a lot of it was not. We decided as officers, the Executive Committee, and together as program chairs that with a convention the size of CCCC, and with the roles and governing documents that shape how the organization does its work, it was not feasible to simply “roll over” the full program to the subsequent year.
We’ve agreed upon and moved ahead with a collaborative approach that allows for the 2021 program chair to maintain the original vision for the conference–focused specifically on the teaching of writing–while integrating those elements from the Milwaukee program that are compatible, of which there were quite a few: for example, Common Grounds pop-up coffee houses, Think Mobs conversation groups, Documentarians, and Engaged Learning experiences (ELEs).
We took a lot of factors into consideration when making decisions about how to proceed, including with the decision not to automatically roll over accepted proposals from 2020 to 2021:
- Online options: Though the online repository does not ‘replace’ the in-person work of the annual convention, for the purposes of disseminating work and making professional progress for individual presenters, we decided that the opportunity to disseminate work electronically–and in a formal way that is documented by the organization–meets some of the practical needs that members have. Likewise, both Julie and I were attracted to the idea of what this option could provide for exploring the ways that online dissemination of research and scholarship might offer members. There have been ongoing discussions for years (particularly led by the Accessibility and Disability Studies leaders in the organization) about how to enable professional engagement in accessible ways, ways that don’t take as their default assumption the physical presence of teacher-scholars at the convention. This can serve as a kind of ‘pilot’ to see the drawbacks and advantages of this kind of virtual dissemination.
- Normalcy and flexibility: We have sought to balance the need for some sense of continuity, and normalcy, with adaptability and flexibility. The CCCC program development timeline and organizational business follows a somewhat rigid process, and so we have tried to adhere to those, when possible. Likewise, we have made some changes, particularly to the timeline and reviewer process, that we hope will add flexibility.
- Fairness: The final program aims to be fair and ethical in recognizing that new work and new proposals need to have an equitable chance to appear on the program. We considered but ultimately decided against simply rolling over accepted proposals, while simultaneously building in some elements of the 2020 program, so that a 2021 program will be built that both honors the work of the Milwaukee convention and allows for new ideas, work, and projects to have a reasonable ability to receive peer-review feedback and a spot on the program. Though fairness is not an objective concept, we have sought to make the past and future processes as fair as possible.
- Situatedness: Much of the Milwaukee 2020 program had specific, place-based connections to the convention site, as we have sought–as an organization–to do more fully through the Social Justice and Activism at the Convention Committee recently and more historically, the Local Arrangements committees. As the annual post-convention survey reveals, as well, many attendees make decisions about whether to go on any given year in part because of the location. Moving ahead with an open process that mirrors the one that has taken place historically seems to have the best chance of building a coherent convention program that moves the work of the field forward.
- The Work of the Field: An important consideration for me as 2021 program chair has been the need to not simply put at least this part of the work of the field ‘on hold’ for a year. Though writing studies scholarship, research, teaching and service takes place in multiple sites and on a range of timelines, the annual CCCC convention has historically been a large and influential gathering where significant work has taken place–to meet, organize, advocate, connect, agitate, and more. Ultimately, the intention of decisions around program building has been to acknowledge the importance of opening the conference to new work in the field and new scholars in the field. The efforts to build a digital and flexible way to move some of that work forward emerge from this principle.
- People’s Lives: We know that the COVID19 pandemic and all the accompanying changes to people’s lives–a shift to distance learning for both K-12 and college students, caregiving responsibilities, emotional labor and stress that accompanies a crisis of this nature–has fundamentally disrupted the professional priorities we may have previously had. We’ve sought to balance normalcy and flexibility here by creating a) an online opportunity for those folks who are ready and who want to share work sooner rather than later, b) a program call that integrates elements of 2020 so that those who were accepted to that program can more easily link their previous proposal to the 2021 call, without needing to do substantive revisions, c) a new theme and vision for 2021 that will attract and make a space for a wide range of teacher-scholar-activists to collaborate and converse.
- Timelines: The usual timeline for CCCC is to make the CFP available at the current year’s convention, with an early May submission deadline. We have moved the submission deadline back to the end of May, in recognition of what is an overwhelming time for many teacher-scholars due to changes in their employment and home conditions. This is an effort to look forward to this major annual event in the field even as we grapple with our current material circumstances. Certainly no one knows what 2021 will bring at this point, but we are collaborating with an optimistic vision to continue the work of writing studies in the wake of COVID19.
That being said, we hope you will visit the TYCA and CCCC online convention site, where accepted presenters, committees, and constituent groups of the organizations (committees, SIGS, standing groups) have been posting materials, including information about ways that those groups plan to hold meetings or do business electronically (oth synchronously and asynchronously) in the coming months as we navigate the semester. We are excited about the ability to “attend” multiple sessions at once, and for the organization to spotlight sessions through social media in order to distribute the work that members do widely.
I hope that this explanation provides answers to questions that members may have as they are thinking about their professional work in the coming year. I am happy to answer questions–contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Julie Lindquist will be fielding the Documentarian role and work that is continuing into 2021, and the Engaged Learning Experience session model that is going to be carried over into the 2021 proposal process. She can be reached at email@example.com.
I’ll be posting another blog entry shortly to offer additional explanations about changes to the convention schedule this year that we hope offers a bit more flexibility for some of the adjustments we’ve made while simultaneously allowing for maximum participation for proposers.
If you are interested in serving as a reviewer for conference proposals, you can sign up here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CCCC2021Stage1SignUp.
Thanks for reading!
Holly (in collaboration with Julie)
For questions about the convention, contact Convention Chair Holly Hassel or Convention Assistant Andrea Stevenson at 4Csconvention2021@gmail.com. For questions about Documentarian roles, Think Mobs, or Common Grounds, contact Julie Lindquist at firstname.lastname@example.org. For questions about Spokane and the work of the Local Arrangements Committee, contact Bradley Bleck at email@example.com.