Malea Powell Delivers Unconventional CCCC’s Chair Address

This year, the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) was held in St. Louis from March 21-24, and it was there that Dr. Malea Powell delivered a CCCC chair’s address unlike any previous — and half the time, she wasn’t even speaking.

Traditionally, the address is a 40-minute talk in which the chair speaks about his or her research and scholarship, or about the current state of the discipline, but Powell says that while she was terrified to step away from that convention, she knew that she wanted to do something vastly different. She said, “I wanted to make it hard for people to discount what was said.”

The address was a storytelling performance, in which 10 individuals stood up and narrated their own story, and seven others read quotes. “I wanted [the address] to say something about the organization — have a vision — and I wanted to give a talk that demonstrated and shared that vision.”

Those who spoke were broadly representative of the organization, spanning from tenured professors to graduate students; Powell said she feels that by structuring the speech as she did, she was able to express the organization’s values regarding collaboration and diversity.

Social media tools such as Twitter hashtags (#4C12) were also used to document how the talk circulated throughout the entire convention.

Aside from her address, Powell is also working with CCCC officers and EC members to craft a strategic vision for the organization, something that has never been created in the history of CCCC. “We have a mission statement, but that’s pretty abstract. Now, we are trying to craft a vision for the next decade to guide our governance actions.”

Powell also went on to express how important she feels it is that someone from WRAC was elected to the as chair, saying, “Here we are forward thinking, a little edgy, and a little risky in the work that we do, and we’re bringing that to an organization that’s not always been that way.”

Among many other tasks, the remainder of Powell’s appointment will involve working to finish the vision statement, moving forward with other important governance work (like creating a Committee on the Status of Graduate Students), and helping to rethink what it means to be a member of the organization in general. Powell hopes that by taking these important steps, the organization will begin to have more than a professional voice, but also a public voice that can position itself at the forefront of conversations about writing, rhetoric, and literacy.

MSU Students & Faculty Presenting at the 2012 CCCC Conference

A list of current MSU students, faculty, and Rhetoric & Writing Program alumni presenting at this year’s CCCC.

Writing Democracy 2012: Envisioning a Federal Writers’ Project for the 21st Century

  • Jeff Grabill: Dewey, Pragmatism, and Assembling a Writing Public

Transitioning to Informed Classroom Practices for all Students: Engaging the Politics and Pedagogy of Language Varieties in Writing Instruction

  • Bonnie Williams, Denise Troutman: Transitioning to Informed Classroom Practices for all Students: Engaging the Politics and Pedagogy of Language Varieties in Writing Instruction

Research Network Forum

  • Trixie Smith

Space, Portal, Passage: Invention & the Near Invisible

  • Julie Lindquist, Bump Halbritter, Steve Lessner, Nancy DeJoy

Rhetoric and Composition Pedagogy and Scholarship in the Context of Globalization: Emerging Globally Networked Learning Environments as New Gateways for Theory, Research, and Pedagogy

  • Jeff Grabill: The Politics of Technology


Dr. Malea Powell Discusses CCCC’s American Indian Caucus

Featured here, Dr. Malea Powell, WRAC associate professor and American Indian Caucus co-chair, talks about the creation and evolution of the American Indian Caucus — from its inception to its current status. Powell also discusses her history with the caucus and her institutional work within the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC), and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) regarding the evolution and growth of the American Indian Caucus. Seen here are parts 1 and 2:

Writing and Working for Change Video Project Part 1, American Indian Caucus

Writing and Working for Change Video Project Part 2, American Indian Caucus

MSU Students & Faculty Presenting at the CCCC Conference

A list of current MSU grad students, faculty, and Rhetoric & Writing Program alumni presenting at this year’s CCCC.

W.3  F*ck Tradition!: Mapping/Making/Performing/Contesting Queer Relations

  • Trixie Smith, Matthew B. Cox, Travis Webster, Katie Livingston, Dianna Baldwin, Casey Miles

W.9  Situated Invention: Mapping, Documenting, Theorizing, and Contesting Generativity

  • Leonora Smith, Julie Lindquist, Nancy DeJoy, Steven Lessner, Jason Wirtz (Hunter College)

AW.2  Contesting Institutional Barriers and Boundaries: Engaging the Politics and Pedagogy of Ebonix (and Other Linguistic Varieties of Americans) in Classroom Practice

  • Geneva Smitherman, Austin Jackson, Denise Troutman, Bonnie Williams

AW.3 Standing Peachtree: Trading Ideas About American Indian Rhetorical Texts with “All Our Relations”

  • Angela Haas (Illinois State University), Qwo-Li Driskill (Texas A&M University)

AW.7  Writing as Radical Hybridity: An Interdisciplinary Writing Workshop

  • Daisy Levy, Suzanne Webb, Matt Novak

MW.7  A Common Ground in a Sea of Change: Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Writers in the Writing Classroom

  • Marohang Limbu

MW.8 Making a Case for Tenure & Promotion within/outside Rhetoric and Composition

  • Douglas Eyman (George Mason University)


R&W @ CCCC: Alumni Celebration!

This year’s Conference on College Composition and Communication (a.k.a. CCCC), is set to take place April 6-9 in Atlanta, Georgia. CCCC is an annual conference that hosts hundreds of faculty, staff, and graduate students in writing-related programs and fields.

“The CCCC Reception has a few different purposes,” said Writing & Rhetoric Program director Bill Hart-Davidson. “Traditionally, it’s a grad program-sponsored event in conjunction with CCCC. This year is particularly special because one of our faculty members–Malea Powell–is the chair of the conference.”

You can read more about Malea Powell’s appointment as chair in former WRAC intern Ali White’s posts: The CCCC: Malea Powell Brings Big Changes as Program Chair and CCCC: Creating the Schedule.

Hart-Davidson said the reception acts as a reunion event. “It’s a convenient opportunity. All of our people are there, all of our prospective grad students and alums are there.”

This year, the Rhetoric & Writing Program is working with members of the CAL Dean’s Alumni Relations team, which is helping to sponsor the event. This means that the reception will also include any alumni from the College of Arts and Letters who are also attending the conference or happen to reside in the Atlanta area.

“While they might not have been part of the WRAC Department, the other CAL alumni still have a lot in common, and this reception gives them a chance to mingle and talk about the different things they’re working on. It’s also an excellent opportunity to network and recruit grad students,” Hart-Davidson said. “Other universities have similar events during CCCC. This allows us to get the WRAC name out there and to let other grad programs know what our students are doing.”

The Michigan State Rhetoric & Writing Reception will be held on Wednesday April 6th, from 6:30 to 8:30 PM at Max Lager’s Wood-fired Grill and Brewery.

CCCC: Creating the Schedule

This is part 2 of a series on the College Conference on Composition and Communication. Part 1, a conversation with CCCC Program chair Dr. Malea Powell, is available on the WRAC blog.

In April 2011, the 61st annual Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) will take place in Atlanta, Georgia. Fifty rooms will be open from April 6th to the 9th in order to let hundreds of people present their research in front of colleagues and students.  However, a gathering this large doesn’t organize itself. The organization elects a program chair to do that; for 2011, Dr. Malea Powell was elected to said position. Organizing is a daunting task to say the least, requiring months of planning, meetings, and hard work. The planning stages started in December of 2009, a year and a half before the conference will actually occur.  Daisy Levy, R&W graduate student, began assisting Dr. Powell at the end of last semester and will carry out her role until May 15th, 2011.

The most essential pieces of the CCCC are presentations by faculty in higher education, graduate students, and other members of the scholarly community. Malea issued a call for proposals which presents the context for the choice of theme and what types of work she is interested in featuring at the conference. Proposals are submitted online, as individual or as panels with up to four speakers. Proposals are then sent to reviewers across the country, with names removed for blind reviewing, then ranked by quality. Malea and Daisy do not read the papers personally, but instead go to “Stage Two Review” with NCTE convention manager Eileen Maley, who hands them a printout of the number of submissions in each category. The group then collectively decides how many papers will be accepted into each category based on a percentage to ensure fair representation. After the numbers have been decided on, they read the reviewers’ comments and select the pieces.

Once each of the pieces have been selected, it is up to Malea and Daisy to organize the entire event including who presents in what room and at which time. In order to best delegate which presentation should go in which room, they traveled to Atlanta for a site visit and stayed in the conference hotel. This helped them determine which rooms are bigger, which have hookups for LCD projectors and other technology, and how rooms are located in relation to one another.

After they scouted the venue, Eileen Maley sent a packet of materials including note cards and stickers to help with organizing the schedule. Program chairs have been organizing the conference this way since its inception. The schedule is announced to the presenters, and some email Malea with scheduling conflicts. “There’s not a lot of wiggle room for people. Requests that have something substantial behind them, I generally say yes to,” said Malea. “Otherwise, I tell them that I’m going to try as hard as I can but it’s going to be a couple of months before I know whether that can happen.”

A lot of planning and precision goes in to making this four-day conference happen. Not only have Malea and Daisy organized the conference presenters, but they are also responsible for pre-convention workshops, night-time activities, and post-convention events. The impending deadline constantly looms, but Malea and Daisy are very eager for April to arrive. “It’s just exciting. It’s kind of like Rhet-Comp Prom,” said Daisy. “Everyone gets all gussied up, flies in from all over the country, and shows off and does their little thing. It’s really exciting to feel like you’re such an integral part of putting it together.”

This is part 2 of a series on the CCCC. In March, look for a complete report of WRAC’s presence at the conference.
Visit the CCCC website

The CCCC: Malea Powell Brings Big Change as Program Chair

This is Part 1 of a series on the Conference on College Composition and Communication.

In late March or early April of each year, a large portion of the WRAC faculty members and graduate students disappear for several days for something they call the “CCCC”.  The Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC, or 4Cs) is a professional organization dedicated to the field of collegiate writing. For many, including WRAC faculty and students, the CCCC is the defining conference in their field and many go out of their way to attend every year. The conference is a venue where scholars of rhetoric and writing gather to learn about the work of their colleagues and to present their own work to the community. Each conference has a different theme, selected by the program chair, which is intended to serve as a frame for all of the presentations.

This year’s program chair for the CCCC is WRAC’s very own Dr. Malea Powell. Her responsibilities as chair include organizing the conference, acting as assistant chair of the organization, and having a seat on the executive board of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).  To help her try to manage the daunting task of organizing the conference, she enlisted Rhetoric & Writing PHD student Daisy Levy to assist her.

This year, the CCCC is being held in Atlanta, GA, from April 6th to April 9th of 2011.  The theme of the conference is “All Our Relations: Contested Space, Contested Knowledge,” which is inspired by Native American philosophy and meant to reflect an interconnectedness between relationships of humans and all living things – that all living things are important and should be treated as relatives.  This philosophy encourages an understanding of an individual’s place in the “larger web of meaning.”  For this conference, Malea asks “all our relations” to come and learn how to balance knowledge and space, which are often disputed; in addition, she hopes it will bring the organization together to encourage greater connections outside of higher education, connections constantly affecting the work being done by members on all levels.

Malea had been approached several times to run for election for program chair of the CCCC. She turned down the offer repeatedly, busy with directing the graduate program at Michigan State and with her other scholarly obligations. After being approached by the previous program chair, she finally agreed to run and was subsequently elected.  Her election provided her with opportunities to make major changes within the organization, changes based on her belief that scholars in composition and communication work within multiple spaces:

“No one works in those categories that they [the CCCC] ask us to submit to. People work at intersections. A lot of people whose work is really important to folks who are in the classroom teaching writing every day weren’t being seen at the convention because they felt like the conference wasn’t a place for them, a place for their work to be seen or heard. They felt unwelcome, so they stopped coming. My goal has been to get those people back and to also raise some excitement among new scholars, graduate students, and beginning assistant professors about the possibility of what the field could be, instead of what it has always been.”

Malea Powell

A call for proposals went out last spring designed as an attempt to address these concerns. Malea created a new category–113 Contesting Boundaries–to solicit proposals that don’t fit within traditional categories. Some disagreed with the creation of this new section because of the broad range of topics it invited into the conference. However, the call produced the highest number of submissions to one category ever in the history of the CCCC and was the second highest number of submitted proposals in the past ten years. Malea is enthusiastic about the tremendous response to this new category and hopes that the changes she has implemented will help the CCCC better meet the needs of the entire field.

Other changes made in the conference include having those she calls “emerging scholars” present as featured speakers and in featured sessions, rather than having only those famous in the world of college composition. These “emerging scholars” may be advanced graduate students, beginning assistant professors, or may not even work within a university. This allows people who have not had the chance to speak at such a major event to play prominent role in shaping the learning environment of the conference.

This year, there will be panels on current studies such as the definition of digital humanities and the impact of Arizona’s immigration laws on ethnic studies education.  The conference will also feature men and women of Cherokee descent in featured sessions and demonstrations in the exhibit area. All of these sessions and panels work to reflect the conference theme, an attempt to “connect the past and present to really push people to think about the future of the discipline, in a really different, more complicated way.”

Malea’s overall goal is for this conference to be a reconsideration of what defines college composition and communication. She hopes to inspire educators and learners to think outside the box of how writing is currently thought of and to work together, across boundaries, to inspire the best work possible.

This is Part 1 of a series on the CCCC. Part 2, a behind-the-scenes look at the planning of the conference, will be coming in early December. In March, look for a complete report of WRAC’s presence at the conference.

DeVoss Publishes a New Book

Congratulations to Dànielle DeVoss on the release of her book, Because Digital Writing Matters. Professor DeVoss co-authored this book with Elyse Eidman-Aadahl, Troy Hicks, and the National Writing Project, which works to focus American educators on efforts to improve writing and learning for all students. The book is meant to follow Carl Nagin and NWP’s 2003 release, Because Writing Matters.

Because Digital Writing Matters discusses how technology matter to writing and writing instruction, for all grades and disciplines. Digital writing can, potentially, help students develop critical thinking skills and supports learning in every subject area. The authors argue that leaders in the community–students, teachers parents, administrators, and policy makers–must work with each other to create learning environments that support digital literacy. Not only does this book discuss why it matters, but also how to implement digital writing programs in schools. It is a useful guide for educators at all levels of education.

Dànielle DeVoss was promoted to full professor in July. Her work has been featured in several journals including Computers and Composition, Computers and Composition Online, and Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology and Pedagogy. She was the associate chair of WRAC and director of Professional Writing from fall of 2005 until the summer of 2010. During that time, the program grew from 30 to 130. She also received the 2009 Outstanding Technology Innovator award given by CCCC.

Learn more about the National Writing Project

Buy the book on Amazon