Greetings from the 2013 Program Chair
Welcome to Las Vegas, site of the 64th Annual Convention of the Conference on College Composition and Communication. As we convene in this most public of places, and in light of our conference theme, let us put on display the valuable public work that our field engages in every day. As Henry Giroux, a featured speaker at this conference, will urge us, let’s write the public good back into education. Whether our institutions are public or private, research universities or liberal arts colleges, two- or four-year, let us recommit ourselves here and now to the process of engagement with all stakeholders vested in literacy instruction for all.
First a few words about process: Drawn from a record number of proposals submitted, this year’s program comprises nearly 600 sessions, all of which passed through two stages of rigorous peer review. Stage I, conducted online and focusing on proposals submitted as prepared panels, involved over 200 reviewers representing a range of institutions and geographical regions. Each proposal was read by three reviewers. Stage II, taking place in June at NCTE headquarters, assembled a remarkably able, committed, diverse, and diligent group of colleagues whose charge was to score individual submissions and from the accepted submissions to construct, with great care and thoughtfulness, panels that were consistent and engaging.
Now on to the opening session: Chris Anson, Chair of CCCC, will kick things off in the General Session with an address that will explore the “climate change” awaiting higher education¬–and the teaching and learning of multiple literacies–as the technological, political, and financial environment continues to change around us. Sustainability, he will argue, requires a heightened focus on creativity and engagement across the entire landscape of our discipline.
From the opening session, we break out into concurrent sessions. As in the past, conferencegoers will have a terrific variety of offerings from which to choose, whether panels, SIGs, undergraduate poster sessions, caucuses, digital presentations, publishers’ exhibits, working sessions for committees and SIGs, and more.
In addition, this year’s conference boasts some distinctive features that I think you will welcome:
• Expanded Internet Access: Appropriately enough for a conference focusing on “public work,” at this year’s meetings all participants will be able to access the Internet without charge throughout the Riviera Hotel and Convention Center, whether in meeting rooms or in hallways. Let the tweeting and blogging begin.
• Enhanced Interactivity: Going hand-in-hand with expanded Internet access, this conference will include sessions that promise genuine interaction and dialogue, both in the meeting room and online. One session, for example, will generate online, synchronous discussion that will complement face-to-face conversations in the meeting room. Another promises a “roundtable in tweets.” Have your hashtags ready.
• Basic Writing Strand: I’m pleased to report a strong response to the call for proposals in support of basic writing instruction, which was given its own cluster this year. While this organization’s work is necessarily complex and diverse, focusing our attention on this beleaguered area of composition could not be more timely and more restorative. Two sessions on basic writing will be featured at the conference and more than twenty sessions will be held concurrently.
• Featured Speakers: This year’s conference boasts prominent speakers whose influence on public matters is considerable. We are honored to have as a speaker Olympic medal winner and social activist John Carlos. His black-gloved, “closed hand” salute during the 1968 Mexico City Olympics has become iconic. Always an inspiring speaker, Dr. Carlos continues to work effectively for social justice. I’m pleased as well that progressive educator Henry Giroux will be addressing the Convention, speaking with extraordinary passion and eloquence on the need to reconfirm the public value of education. Gary Rhoades, former Secretary of AAUP, will offer his wide-ranging perspective on the rhetoric of privatization, with special attention paid to contingent employment. Huffington Post blogger Todd Farley will discuss the mechanization of writing assessment, drawing partly upon his own experience as a bought-and-paid-for ETS reader of student essays; award-winning poet and short story writer Cecilia Rodriguez Milanés, former co-chair of the Latino Caucus, will read from her stirring work and engage us in thoughtful conversation; and MLA Executive Director Rosemary Feal will join Kent Williamson, Executive Director of NCTE, and Doug Hesse, former chair of CCCC, to consider the ways that our work in literacy studies may have a broad impact on public policy. Other featured speakers include Kenneth Crews, Yvette Johnson, and Richard E. Miller. (Go here to view all featured speakers.)
• Federal Writers’ Project 2.0: Opportunity has been provided for conference participants to share “This We Believe” digital essays, part of a larger effort focused on what it might mean to consider our classrooms as democratic spaces, our scholarship as engaged in democratic debates, and our careers as deeply enmeshed with issues of democratic rights.
Many talented and generous colleagues assisted in the planning of the conference. Certainly, the assistance of the staff at NCTE was especially valuable: Eileen Maley, Jacqui-Joseph Biddle, Kristen Suchor, Kent Williamson, and all the other members of the staff back at headquarters. You were all tremendously professional and helpful. In addition, no conference of this scale can be successful without a strong Local Arrangements team. Led most capably by Robyn Rhode, Local Arrangements took to their task with great energy and professionalism. My thanks also go to the many reviewers, during both Stage I and Stage II, whose names are listed in this program. Your wise and sage feedback on the very large number of proposals submitted was essential to maintaining the very high quality of the conference presentations. A very special thank you goes to my assistants back at Bristol Community College--Joanne Petrasso and Kathy Braga—who assisted with reviewer correspondence and with conference scheduling, respectively, and who, despite many additional responsibilities at the college, were steadfast and simply indispensable. And of course I wish to thank my fellow C’s officers, both past and present, who provided invaluable guidance, especially as I was beginning to learn the ropes of conference planning. I hope that I can do the same for those who follow me.