The amazing NCPTW 2020 proposal due date countdown clock!
Writing Centers at the Confluence of Diversity and Democracy
National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing
May 15, 2020
Over the past few weeks, we have been in conversation with the conference hotel, and with many of you. Given the concerns about lack of funding for the fall, and the uncertainty of traveling and gathering, we have, with regret, decided to postpone the conference. Fortunately, we were able to work with the hotel to reschedule for next year, so we are planning on the 2021 NCPTW in Pittsburgh, at the Sheraton at Station Square, November 11-13th. And then, we are set for 2022 in Omaha, Nebraska.
Also, we know several people have submitted proposals, and we do not want anyone to miss out on the chance to present work, so we are planning to have an online celebration of learning this fall so that presenters who want the opportunity to share their peer-reviewed work are able to do so. We will post the presentations to the (new) NCPTW site, beginning on the original conference date: October 29th. You can share a poster, a narrated PowerPoint presentation, a video, or some other idea you come up with.
To allow as many people as want to participate in this online celebration, we will extend the deadline for proposals to July 31st. We hope that gives you some time to dive into any projects you have in mind and come up with a plan for presenting them virtually. All proposals will be peer-reviewed, and every presenter will have a chance to work with a member of the NCPTW Steering Committee to prepare their work. The CFP is below; the link for the proposal page is here. For those who have already proposed, we will be in touch shortly to talk with you about your plans.
We realize that not meeting in person is a loss—one that mirrors the loss all of us are feeling this year. However, we do hope this approach will still allow us to feature and celebrate the work done by peer tutors in writing centers, and will allow us to prepare for gathering in the future. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to write to any one of us listed below.
All of us on the NCPTW Executive Board thank you for your patience and for the important work you all have been doing in your writing centers and beyond during this challenging time.
Mike Mattison, president (email@example.com)
Randall Monty, past president (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Andrea Efthymiou, treasurer (email@example.com)
Julie Christoph, secretary (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Pittsburgh is well known for its location at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela, forming the Ohio River, which provides a sense of continued civic identity and whose names harken to the indigenous people that populated the region. Historically, Pittsburgh has been a meeting place for those original inhabitants, and a stop on Underground Railroad, a home for steel mills and those that work them, for anyone passing through Appalachia, the Ohio Valley, or Pennsylvania. Currently, Pittsburgh is establishing itself as a confluence for environmental, health care, and technological pursuits, including in the sustainable EcoInnovation District, the first certified neighborhood of its kind in the nation. However, not all residents have been empowered or included in this reinvention, as the city continues to grapple with issues of identity, class, access, race, and environmental justice.
Extending that metaphor, writing centers are places of confluence, too, where different people, disciplines, and programs meet to get work done. Collaborative work, according to Mukavetz (2014), “is crucial because it contends larger institutional expectations about the role of researcher or author,” whereas “the institution, as a paracolonial space, emphasizes distance, isolation, and anonymity.” Viewed this way, as a collaborative space where a confluence of disciplines, identities, and bodies interact, the writing center continuously works to advocate for access, collaboration, and shared governance.
The modern history of Pittsburgh and its surrounding regions are intertwined with industry and blue collar, “everyday” work, which Caswell, Grutsch McKinney, & Jackson (2016) identify in writing centers as institutionally regarded as separate from disciplinary and intellectual labor. More recently, Pittsburgh and its residents are reinventing that image, emphasizing the city’s advancements in the areas of health care, technology, and environmentalism. This dynamic of rethinking labor and identity resonates across writing center scholarship, where stakeholders have attempted to more directly confront the roles that race, class, gender, religion, and physical bodies play in our everyday operations.
Writing centers have long traded on the disciplinary history of access and accessibility for underserved populations, but continued work is needed to account for, reconcile, and challenge difference and power in writing center spaces. As García (2017) recognized, as “Writing centers function within a tapestry of social structures, reproducing and generating systems of privilege.” Likewise contrary to some of the narratives we have about ourselves, Salem (2017) argued that, “the choice to use the writing center is raced, classed, gendered and shaped by linguistic hierarchies.” Furthering how writing centers complicate identities of class and labor, Denny, Nordlof, and Salem (2018) observe that, for many working-class students, “the more “success” they achieve, the greater the symbolic and material separation between them and their families and home communities,” complicating common tropes of higher education and social mobility.
Like much of the nation, we enter 2020 questioning our roles within larger systems. As tutors and administrators, specifically, we are reflecting on our roles as members of campus communities. As an organization, we’re acting on how to make our spaces more inclusive, accessible, diverse, and equitable. Importantly, these are not achievements that can be checked off a list, rather they are processes that require continuous reflection, revision, and effort. More broadly, though, writing centers must consider their roles in civic life, the ways in which writing centers are uniquely positioned to cultivate the intellectual and rhetorical skills that are essential for a vibrant, functioning democracy.
Over the past few politically tumultuous
years, the National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing invited participants
to think as artists and artisans, about the movement of bodies internationally
and within our centers, across physical and digital spaces, and to account for
difference, power, and identity. For this year’s conference, we ask you to
examine the ways your writing center, in the collaborative, interpersonal
spaces of your campus and your community, functions at the confluence of
diversity and democracy, promoting ways of writing, thinking, and speaking.
Given the online nature of the 2020 presentations, we encourage everyone to consider how best to present your ideas in that format: a videotaped talk, a narrated PowerPoint or Prezi, a poster. Please reach out with questions; we will find the best way to present your ideas.
We’ve developed some tips on writing your proposal, so take a look and let us know if you have questions.
Proposals due for online celebration: July 31, 2020.
Online celebration begins: October 29, 2020