Changes for #4C18 in Kansas City

This post is meant to help those who plans on proposing a panel, workshop, poster session, or individual presentation for the 2018 Conference on College Composition and Communication (#4C18), which will be in Kansas City, MO. There some important changes this coming year.

You can find the CFP online and be sure to look carefully at it, as well as the criteria reviewers will use to rate proposals. Below I'll highlight a few new things that can affect the way you write your proposals this year. There are differences from past years' conferences.

No Clusters, but Hashtags

There are no clusters, instead, we have hashtags, which I’m hoping will be used in a variety of ways on social media. The hashtags are a bit broader. Up to 3 hashtags can be associated with any proposal, but all proposals must have at least 1 hashtag. These hashtags will be used to organize the conference program in a similar fashion as the old clusters, but because I won’t use the hashtags to funnel proposals to particular reviewers, proposers should write their proposals for a general Cs audience. I would like to encourage others from different parts of our field and conference to find interest and engagement in other topics and sessions than those clusters they have often kept themselves in over the years. As you'll see below, there are other ways I'm trying to encourage this.
Asao B. Inoue, 2018 CCCC Program Chair

So no matter the topic of your proposal, each proposal should address the five main criteria listed on the guidelines page: (1) how the proposal is situated in the field, (2) its main focus, (3) what is innovative or new, (4) how it is audience oriented and/or transformative to a wide Cs audience, and (5) how it adds new or underrepresented voices or texture to the discussion. The hashtags we will use are:
  • Pedagogy (#pedagogy)
  • Basic Writing (#BW)
  • Assessment (#Assess)
  • Rhetoric (#Rhetoric)
  • History (#History)
  • Technology (#Tech)
  • Language (#Language)
  • Professional Technical Writing (#PTW)
  • Writing Program Administration (#WPA)
  • Theory (#Theory)
  • Public, Civic, and Community writing (#community
  • Creative Writing (#creativewriting)
For the most part, this will be a merit based system that relies on the best proposals to get through, knowing that I will make sure that the best of each hashtag is also accepted. This means there will be some sessions on each of the above hashtags. I haven’t decided what those numbers are yet, because I don’t know how many proposals will be submitted within each hashtag.

To Mention the Theme or Not . . .

Notice that the first four criteria are mostly the same in orientation as years past, with a few slight details changed that may appear to make it sound like all proposals must be geared toward only “languaging” and/or “laboring” themes. This is not the case. For instance, the second item says,
Is the proposal focused on the scene of laboring and/or languaging to occur during the session/presentation? What will happen and who will do what during the time allotted?
While certainly there can be proposals that offer direct discussion on laboring and languaging in the context of rhetoric and composition, all proposals do not need to do this. In fact, it is not a good idea to just play with the words "languaging," "laboring," and "transforming" in your proposals. Please do NOT do this.

What the strongest proposals will focus attention on is what will happen in the session, what work or labor will occur, what languaging will happen, and by whom? This obviously is less of a requirement for poster sessions. I want to encourage all of us to think of ourselves as coming together to labor with and around language so I want our proposals to attempt to pay attention to our “conferencing” as embodied languaging labor no matter the topics we come to discuss or engage in, and you don't have to use this language to propose it, but it will be clear. If, however, a proposal does not mention what will happen in the session, but speak only to its topics or subjects, with no regard to what people do and say in the session, this is okay, but is not preferred. Those proposals will be rated lower than ones that do. Keep in mind that a proposal can speak to the languaging and laboring in the session in just a few lines. It doesn’t need to take up a lot of time or space in the proposal. I am, however, hopeful, that some of us will offer ingenious and transformative ways to experience a session by thinking carefully about this criterion.

Making Space for New and Underrepresented Voices/Textures

The final criterion states: 
Does the proposal address how it adds a new or underrepresented voice(s) or texture to the conversation in which the presentation(s) are engaging?
This can be fulfilled in a number of ways and simple references in proposals. For instance, if the proposer thinks that they are a part of an underrepresented group at the conference in past years, they might call attention to this fact in whatever ways seem appropriate. This criterion can also be met by the proposal identifying the voices it is using in its discussions to help add a new or underrepresented voice or texture to the conversation. The point is, the most successful proposals will clearly identify how they add new or underrepresented voices or texture, and if needed, explain how those voices/textures are new or underrepresented. Proposals that should be rated lower will not pay attention to this dimension, and say nothing or very little about how it adds new or underrepresented voices or texture to the conversation in some way.

That's it for now. Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks and months. Oh, and I can't leave this post without showing off our new logo, which will begin appearing in materials this year.