Reviewed by LauraAnne Carroll-Adler (firstname.lastname@example.org) (@mirandamuseum)
Chair: Cindy Selfe, The Ohio State University, Columbus
Erika Lindemann, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, “When the Field Was Young … and I Was Too”
Akua Duku Anokye, Arizona State University, Tempe, “Talking Brought Me Here”
Duane Roen, Arizona State University, Tempe, “The CCCC Convention: An Annual Mentoring Event”
Victor Villanueva, Washington State University, Pullman
Peter Elbow, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
This was a featured session in the 2014 Program, and seemed to be an outreach event for junior members of the composition field. Chaired by Cindy Selfe, with nostalgic narratives presented by Erika Lindemann, Akua Duku Anokye, and Duane Roen, the theme throughout the session was collegiality. The grand ballroom was equipped with tables; it almost seemed as if a meal should have been served, as the atmosphere was like a grand celebratory banquet.
Lindemann began with “When the Field was Young . . . and I Was Too,” recounting her first trip to the CCCC in 1977. She still has the 52-page program listing all 111 sessions. She urged those just coming into the field to take advantage of the collegiality and friendship to volunteer and to find and follow other scholars. Her final piece of advice: “each year, discard one old truth—invest in something new.”
Anokye introduced herself as a storyteller in “Talking Brought Me Here.” In a lively talk, she traced her interest in the CCCC from research into African-American dialects, and a resolution at the Ann Arbor convention that all students had a right to their own dialect. She described her tendency to be a joiner, in the forerunner to TYCA and then in other groups. CCCC, she concluded, is like home for her.
Duane Roen continued the theme in “The CCCC Convention: An Annual Mentoring Event,” describing the CCCC as a family reunion and noting that he’d just added his information to the Writing Studies Tree at the conference. He noted the many professional connections he’d made through CCCC.
Victor Villanueva was the first respondent—although the distinction between the role of speakers and respondents wasn’t entirely clear. He recalled working on panels and committees with Vivian Davis, Patricia Bizzell, and his fellow panelist Lindemann, among others. He noted that he had helped organize the first meeting of the Hispanic Caucus, which began with only three members. The point, he reiterated, was that there are many opportunities for involvement.
Finally, Peter Elbow stepped up with a suitably contrarian approach, reminding us that we should beware of too many comparisons to family—since most murders take place within families! He discussed his work in other disciplines, urging newcomers to value all approaches to language, from composition or from other fields.
Selfe moderated an extended discussion, alternating questions among the panelists.
Elbow was asked which of his books he would recommend for undergraduates; he suggested Vernacular Eloquence.
Another questioner wondered how we could all continue the energetic sense of community from CCCC back in our departments. Panelists suggested subscribing to the WPA listserv, using social media to keep in touch and keep informed, and using those tools to build community within departments.
Other comments and responses discussed the importance of argument—of needing to talk about ideas and about differences so we can understand. We need to argue our vision without getting argumentative. Panelists invoked Burke’s balance between identification/division; if we go too far on either side, it doesn’t work. Last words—you’re family here!
The session was certainly welcoming—it served its purpose of introducing newcomers to some of the established figures in the field. It also seemed as though the theme might have been foregrounded in response to concerns that the conference was growing quite large and perhaps a bit daunting for newcomers. The panel is a good step towards keeping the earlier sense of community even as the convention grows far beyond those 52 pages—close to 400, for 2014.