CFP: CCCC 2011 Session: “Contesting This Space, Contesting This Knowledge: A Session on Conferences”

Andrew Pilsch and I went to Georgia Tech together before he went off to Penn State, and I went across the pond to the University of Liverpool and then back again to Kent State. During that time, Andrew has been, I think, methodically forming a humanities vanguard to critique, challenge, and shake up the academy to the aid of graduate students such as ourselves. Maybe he’s doing all of those things, or none of those things. I don’t mean to write a manifesto for his work, but he has posted a brilliant session cfp for CCCC 2011 on “Contesting This Space, Contesting This Knowledge: A Session on Conferences.” I’ve included his cfp below. Please email Andrew if you’re interested in taking part in what I believe will be a fantastic discussion. I have a feeling that Andrew’s work here will lead to constructive rethinking of the conference perhaps through his own plans or by getting others to reflect on what it is we do by conferencing in big and small ways. Just check out his calculations on the collective distance of all CCCC 2010 participants on his Twitter feed here to get a hint of what he’s working on.

CCCC 2011 Session: “Contesting This Space, Contesting This Knowledge: A Session on Conferences” (4/30)

full name / name of organization:
Andrew Pilsch / Pennsylvania State University
contact email:
cfp categories:

A session on the rhetoric of the academic conference.

Once again, several hundred of us will be descending on a major metropolis to give a paper, meet up with old friends, and find out what’s new in the many fields that operate under the banner of CCCC. All the while, though, many of us may do so without thinking about the nature of professional conferences and their roles in our personal and professional lives.

This proposed session seeks to question the nature of the academic conference and the kinds of knowledges that get produced within such spaces. Additionally, papers should in some way analyze the rhetoric surrounding conferences (the way we talk about them, the way we write for them, the way they talk about themselves, etc.). That said, any aspect of conference-going would be welcome as a topic, including but not limited to:

  • The conference paper as knowledge artifact
  • Literacy and writing practices embodied within the conference presentation
  • Performance in the conference paper
  • Technology of/in presentations (Powerpoint, websites, etc.)
  • The oral/written divide in conference presentation
  • The role of the conference in the professional lives of scholars
  • The economic implications of conference-going
  • Rethinking the nature of the conference in light of the various, current “crises” in academic life
  • The logistics of conference organization
  • The physical spaces of conferences (social and professional)
  • Conferences and the social life of the mind

Please email proposals of at most 250 words by April 30th if you would be interested in participating in this session.

Original cfp available here.

4 thoughts on “CFP: CCCC 2011 Session: “Contesting This Space, Contesting This Knowledge: A Session on Conferences”

  1. Hey Andrew,

    Sure thing, man. I was immediately intrigued by your cfp when I read it, but it took me a few days to get around to posting it–I was determined to finish Derrida’s Of Grammatology (please, no jokes) before I made any more posts. I think that your session idea is a clever and strategic way to engage some of the other ideas that we’ve both written about online (e.g., jobs, graduate student existence, what we do as academics, etc.). A session on those things, I believe, would be too big to usefully discuss without it turning into a bitch session. Your session idea cuts through that like a laser beam–your cfp is focused on one component of the academic machine, i.e., conferences, yet variable enough within that narrow band to create what I think will be a constructive meeting. I would like to take part in the discussion, but I don’t think that I will be able to go to 4Cs next year. Therein lies the rub, so to speak, of what you’re going to talk about at the session. Best of luck with it!


  2. Hi,
    I’m just Googling around because I’m taking a class with Peter Elbow on Speech and Writing and, after just returning from Cs, am interested in what it means to write a paper to be read. I’m curious about the history of this odd kind of performance and am trying to see if I can find enough to write a short paper about it. In class last week, Peter was talking about the style many poets use to read their work and how he believed that style of reading was to help the listener focus on the words and be centered in the text. As a person who spent the last several years hanging out in the Rio Grande Valley with a bunch of performance poets, I’m trying to figure-out the difference between text that is to be read aloud as text and text that is to be performed. I just started graduate work at UMASS after being in Zoology where the ideal presentation is a talk performed in a rhetorically engaging fashion with jokes, power point slides, well crafted research, and a sense of humility. How would you describe the ideal at Cs? I’m just starting to poke around trying to find a statement describing it.

  3. Hey Airlie,

    I’m afraid that I haven’t been to the 4Cs before, but I have been to a number of other conferences: mostly ones related to science fiction, and science, technology, and culture. However, I have noticed a number of styles of presentation that I would guess appear in most academic conference settings. Without going into too much detail, I can think of the conversationalists, the powerpointers, the note card enthusiasts, the essay readers (that’s me), and the audience participation gurus. Those are the ones that come to mind right now, but I imagine there are as many types and mixes of these as there are presenters. Your project idea sounds intriguing. I imagine you will need to do some field research to observe the way presentations are performed by various readers. It’s interesting that you say in zoology that there is a particular ideal presentation format. Since I haven’t been to the Cs, I wonder if that is true there, too. I will defer to others to answer that. Thanks for commenting on my blog, and good luck with your work!


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