MLA 2017 in Philadelphia: Call for Papers

Boundaries of College-Ready Writing

Forum: HEP Community Colleges
Questions about political and economic contexts of placement, transfer, dual credit. Explorations of college “readiness” or examinations of specific state reactions to the developmental education “crisis”. 500-word abstracts by 18 March 2016; Miles McCrimmon (

Community College Related Sessions at #MLA16

MLA Convention 2016 in Austin

Sessions of interest to Community College faculty and those interested in community colleges

  1. Democratic Vistas: Reading and Writing in the Community College Classroom

Thursday, 7 January, 3:30–4:45 p.m., 9A, ACC

  1. Threshold Concepts in First-Year Composition (FYC) at the Community College

Friday, 8 January, 5:15–6:30 p.m., 10B, ACC

  1. Career Opportunities in Community Colleges

Saturday, 9 January, 10:15–11:30 a.m., 202, JW Marriott

  1. On the Relation between Research and Teaching

Saturday, 9 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., 4BC, ACC

  1. Books That Cook: Food in Fiction and Memoir

Friday, 8 January, 5:15–6:30 p.m., 201, JW Marriott

  1. Collaboration at Community Colleges: Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning Ideas That Work

Saturday, 9 January, 5:15–6:30 p.m., 6A, ACC

  1. What Qualities Matter in Teaching the Humanities Online

Sunday, 10 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., 201, JW Marriott

Our new name: Community College Forum

The Community College Forum (under the category of HEP–Higher Education and the Profession)  is the new name for the Two Year College Discussion Group!

The 2015-16 Executive Committee Members are:

Michael Burke (Chair)
Falk Cammin
Stacey Donohue (Secretary)
Linda Weinhouse
(One position is unfilled)

If you are interested in working with the discussion group as a member or being considered as a future member of the Executive Committee, please contact one of us, or watch this blog, for information about our annual business meeting at the MLA Convention.

For the 2016 Convention in Austin, we will are arranging a panel on teaching the Humanities online.

CFP: Transitions & Transactions III: Literature and Journalism Pedagogies in Community Colleges Today (11/15/15; 4/1-2/16)

Transitions and Transactions III:
Literature and Journalism Pedagogies in Community Colleges Today

We invite Community College faculty to send proposals for the April 1-2, 2016 conference presented by Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York, English Department.

Please note that the dates of the conference have changed. The CFP that you received previously stated the conference dates as April 22-23, which would have overlapped with the start of Passover. Several colleagues alerted us to the conflict in schedules, mentioning that the holiday would prevent their participation in the conference. Happily, we have rescheduled campus facilities and the featured speakers for April 1-2, 2016.

Transitions and Transactions is dedicated to helping community college teachers flourish and excel as we envision, invent and expand our ideas of teaching given the demands of the community college population and the demands and constraints specific to our profession. The conference emphasizes teaching strategies intended to address and engage issues that concern community college teachers of literature, creative writing and journalism today.

T&TIII invites teachers to think about the pressing issues of our particular historical moment. The escalation of police-community clashes, the rise in rampage school shootings, the constant media-presence of violent radical Islamic fundamentalism, all coupled with the reduction of culture and history to media sound-bites make the issue of trust in communication and speech and the ability to bear ambiguity all the more necessary and timely. At the same time, our work at community college shows that language is not simply a medium of reconciliation that pacifies aggression in the name of culture, but that as privileged cultural and critical discourses, literature and the humanities can themselves be a violent medium of contentious confrontation where language exerts a performative efficiency, as pernicious as it can be liberating.

At once transformative and threatening, literary studies affects and is affected by the global and the particular. T&T III’s concern with context invites presenters to consider the discourses that affect and create us as subjects and as teachers. These include: negotiating new “sexualities” and “gender identities”; increasing our environmental awareness; negotiating virtual existence and social networking, navigating the rhetoric of marketing where we urged to never “unplug”; making sense of history and culture often reduced to “take-aways” – or what one of our students’ asked so well in her essay: “What is the difference between reality and spin?” Our context calls on us to create new ways of critically and creatively engaging with our students in the historical moment we share with them. We are poised to respond through the varied voices and expertise of community college faculty across the U.S. and beyond and look forward to our extended conversation.

With over 50% of American undergraduates in community college, more than at any other time, community college teachers have their hands on America’s future. The stakes

are higher than ever, especially given the challenges of our diverse student population, diverse in every thinkable way: age, race, religion, level of preparation, goals, stage in life, basic literacy etc. Our classes, full to the brim with a vast swath of the population pose new challenges for teaching and for what it means to become educated and able to negotiate the challenges of our fast-paced, and fast-changing, increasingly global and increasingly virtual world.

Literature Pedagogy Topics:

  1. Teaching Literary Theory at the Community College
  2. Teaching Literature in Interdisciplinary Humanities Courses
  3. Assessment & Self-Evaluation in Teaching Literature
  4. The Reader and the Texts in the Literature Classroom
  5. Digital Multimodal Practices in the Teaching of Literature
  6. Teaching Classical Literature
  7. Game Theory and New Theoretical Approaches to the Teaching of Literature
  8. Gender Constructions in the Text and in the Classroom
  9. Psychoanalytic Theories of Pedagogy
  10. Teaching Literature in the ESL and Developmental Skills Classroom
  11. Student Experiences in the Community College Literature Classroom
  12. Post-Multiculturalism and Marginalized Voices
  13. The Rhetorics of Racial Profiling
  14. (Dis)abilities and Teaching in the Literature Classroom
  15. Urban Identities: students and texts in the Literature Classroom
  16. Argumentative Writing in the Literature Classroom
  17. Culturally Relevant and Responsive Teaching
  18. Collaborative Teaching and Learning Communities
  19. How Comics Teach
  20. Creating a Reading Culture
  21. Unlearning Plagiarism in the Literature Classroom
  22. Teaching Writing (Composition) in the Literature Classroom
  23. Public Policy and its Relation to Community College Education

Journalism Pedagogy Topics:

  1. Crowdsourcing Community Projects
  2. The Curators and the Curated (Aggregation and/or Original Content)
  3. Effective News and Feature Writing Assignments: A Roundtable
  4. From Citizen to Journalist
  5. 140 characters v. 14000 words: The New Longform
  6. How to Help Prepare CC Students for Careers in 21st Century Journalism
  7. How to Discuss and Debate Ethics Effectively in the CC Classroom
  8. Maps of Time: Data as Narrative
  9. Data Visualization and the Future of Research
  10. What Journalism Can Learn from Science
  11. Open Web, Open News: Reporters and Developers Remix

12. Election 2016: Campaigns, coverage and the Internet
13. Politics of Online News: The role of ideological journalism in online news 14. The Ethics of Authority in Broadcast and Online Journalism
15. Library and Research Methods for CC Journalism Students
16. Models for Successful Two-Year College Student Newspapers
17. Is that News or Opinion? How to Help Journalism Students Decipher the

Differences Across Media Platforms
18. The Power of Digital Storytelling as an Easy-to-Learn Tool for CC Journalism

19. Money: Is Journalism being Shaped by Rising Income Inequality? 20. How Women Journalists Present Themselves in the Digital Age 21. Accuracy & Fairness: Best Practices in the CC Newsroom
22. Can You Tweet That? Teaching Social Media and the Law
23. Developing Digital Strategies for the CC Newspaper: Design

This is an interdisciplinary call extended to community college teachers and graduate students. Additional topics are welcome. Deadline for submissions is November 15, 2015. Send abstracts (minimum of 250 words) or inquiries to:

Dr. Margaret Barrow and Dr. Andrew Levy
Borough of Manhattan Community College/CUNY
English Department, Room N720
199 Chambers Street, New York, NY 10007
Telephone: (212) 220-8270 /Email and

Please include a) name of author(s), b) affiliation, c) email address, d) title of presentation (e) body of proposal and (f) brief bio. We acknowledge receipt of all proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should resend.

Non-presenters who prefer to participate in the conversations and workshops rather than deliver a presentation may attend on a first come, first serve basis subject to space available at the venue. To book, send an email to Dr. Barrow or Dr. Levy with “Booking Request” as the subject. Please include your name, affiliation and email address. Cost: $125.00 Full-time faculty; $65 Part-time faculty and $25 Graduate Students.

Welcome to the Community College Forum/Two Year College Discussion Group!

The Two Year College Discussion Group is one of the 49 MLA Discussion Groups “designed to accommodate the scholarly and professional interests of small constituencies concerned with discrete literatures or with literary and linguistic subjects that are not encompassed by one of the divisions” (

Once the MLA moves from Discussion Groups to Forums, we will be known as the Community College Forum.

The 2015-16 Executive Committee Members are:

Michael Burke (Chair)
Falk Cammin
Stacey Donohue (Secretary)
Linda Weinhouse
(One position is unfilled)

If you are interested in working with the discussion group as a member or being considered as a future member of the Executive Committee, please contact one of us, or watch this blog, for information about our annual business meeting at the MLA Convention.

For the 2016 Convention in Austin, we will are arranging a panel on teaching the Humanities online.

Teaching the Memoir session at MLA 2015

Abstracts below:

Friday, 9 January

  1. Reading Memory: Approaches to Teaching the Memoir

10:15–11:30 a.m., West 210, VCC West

Program arranged by the Community College Humanities Association

Presiding: Stacey Lee Donohue, Central Oregon Community Coll.

  1. “Photo-graphics: Mediating Memory in Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home,” David Bahr, Borough of Manhattan Community Coll., City Univ. of New York
  2. “The Space In-Between: Redefining Autobiography in Theory and Practice,” Sarita N. Cannon, San Francisco State Univ.
  3. “Teaching Autobiography-Fiction Blends: The Labels and the Agendas,” Lorna Martens, Univ. of Virginia
  4. “Reading Memory by Re-membering,” Jewon Woo, Lorain County Community Coll., OH [unable to attend]

For abstracts, visit after 15 Dec.

The following audiovisual request(s) was/were made for your session: Projection equipment for a computer; Speakers for sound from audio device (e.g., iPod)

keywords: memoir, life writing, autobiography, teaching, literature


David Bahr, Assistant Professor of English at Borough of Manhattan Community College-City University of New York


Photo-Graphics: Mediating Memory in Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home.


In 2013, I taught the first graphic narrative course at my community college. Having taught the seminar at a private liberal arts college, where Fun Home was popular with students, I again taught Bechdel’s memoir. This time, however, my mostly urban students, some struggling with writing skills, were less receptive to Fun Home, largely because of the literary allusions and vocabulary. To work through this resistance, I focused on the family photograph, as a site of memory and revision, with which all my students could identify.


I devoted about two hours on Bechdel’s use of illustrated photographs, or photographics, as I call it. In preparation for the class, I asked students to bring in an old family photograph, digital or material. My goal was for them to think about photography, specifically the illustrated photograph, as a narrative tool and heuristic device in the recreation of memory.


I began my lesson by asking students to free-write about what they viewed as the purpose of photographics in Bechdel’s memoir, notably as a visual epigraph at the beginning of each chapter. As the class had already discussed Fun Home as a recursive narrative, several students identified these opening images as temporal place markers. As we moved on, I invited the class to explore the strategies and effects of the drawn photograph. This line of inquiry encouraged students to think further about comics as a mode of mediating memory. How is a photograph—retraced and re-imagined—transformed by the human hand? What might the illustrated photograph communicate about an author’s point of view and subjectivity? How is the mediation of an already mediated artifact a means of reclaiming, reimaging, and revising our memories? And, finally, how might discussion prompted by these questions add to our understanding of Bechdel’s memoir, perhaps encouraging identification with her process?


Building on the last question, I asked students to take out the family photo that each of them brought and to attempt their own iconic illustration of the photo. I then asked them to write a page about the drawn image, reimagining the story behind, and the person within, that photographic. The exercise energized the class, creatively and intellectually. I would like to share the experience as part of your panel.


This paper is drawn from an essay that I am writing for a proposed collection Approaches to Literature: Teaching Alison Bechdel, edited by Dr. Judith Garner, to be published by Modern Language Association in 2015.

______________ Sarita Cannon is associate professor of English at San Francisco State University where she teaches courses on 20th-century literatures in English, Ethnic American Literatures, the Novel, and Autobiography.

The Space In Between: Redefining Autobiography in Theory and in Practice

In a course I teach on American Life Writing, I foreground the problem of “truth” in memoir on the first day of class by discussing examples of autobiographical hoaxes, including Danny Santiago’s Famous All Over Town, Forrest Carter’s The Education of Little Tree, and Margaret Jones’ Love And Consequences. These cross-cultural autobiographical impersonations allow me to contextualize the long history of racial appropriation in American culture; yet they also highlight for students the slipperiness of “truth” in the constructed and far from transparent genre of autobiography. Our aim as scholars of life writing is not to discern whether an event “really” happened; rather, it is to ask how autobiographers frame their narratives and how they position themselves in relation to earlier autobiographical traditions. In this paper, I focus on the ways in which two memoirs I teach that trouble boundaries between memory and invention, N. Scott Momaday’s The Way to Rainy Mountain (1969) and Audre Lorde’s Zami: A New Spelling of My Name (1982), allow students to see how members of historically marginalized groups reconfigure the genre of autobiography for political and aesthetic purposes.  This understanding becomes especially powerful when I ask students to write their own short autobiographies in which they draw upon conventions, tropes, and techniques from the texts we have read in the class.  More than any other authors in the class, Momaday and Lorde inspire students as they craft their own narratives.  Thus this paper is driven by two interconnected questions: How does reading Momaday and Lorde enable students to recalibrate their own definitions of autobiography, particularly in relation to notions of “truth”? And how does writing their own memoirs facilitate a more nuanced understanding of the choices that life writers make?


Lorna Martens teaches German and Comparative Literature at the University of Virginia and is currently working on a book on women’s childhood autobiographies.

Teaching Autobiography-Fiction Blends: The Labels and the Agendas

On the basis of studying 102 examples of childhood autobiography written by women from the nineteenth-century to the present, I find that autobiography has prototypical characteristics that distinguish it from fiction (albeit fiction can ape anything autobiography does): Lejeune’s autobiographical pact; a justification for writing; conformity to current truth criteria (a veteran truth criterion is completeness, so that an autobiographer does well to create a semblance of completeness, which in turn implies the presence of abundant unmotivated detail); the absence of plot; the thematization of memory; and a serious tone.

In contrast to other theoreticians, I find that stylistic features, so-called “poetic effects,” occur far too frequently in autobiographical writing to be counted as differentiating characteristics. Fictionalization is signaled by real-world impossibility, e.g. extensive remembered dialogue, telepathy.

So there are two distinct genres. Yet autobiography-fiction blends are perfectly possible, indeed commonplace. Labels can be misleading. Authors and publishers often choose labels strategically: in the English-speaking world, an “autobiography” sells better; a “novel” is more discreet.

How to make this state of affairs productive for teaching?

In my childhood autobiography classes, I start by having students write their own autobiographical narratives. I do this at the beginning of the course, before students have read anything. I ask them to write three papers: 1. their first memory (1p.); 2. their most significant childhood memory (2-3 p.); 3. their childhood generally (5p.). These writing assignments get the group talking. Assignments 1 and 2 initiate a discussion of memory. We talk about what is remembered and why, at what age memories start and which ages are remembered best, and about the influence of adults’ stories, photos, and videos. Assignment 2 and especially Assignment 3 lead to the question: did you fictionalize? Nearly everyone admits to having employed some kind of shaping for the sake of making a coherent story in Assignment 3. We then discuss: what do you understand by fictionalization? We go on to discuss the need to select and organize material in life-writing, the pressure to compress events out of consideration for readability and length, the temptation to establish a story line or theme, and effective techniques for telling. All these issues make much more sense if students have tried to write autobiography themselves. We also talk about how the intended audience might have an effect on what one writes, as well as the importance of consideration for living people such as parents or siblings.

Over the course of the term, then, I like to make my students aware of the agendas that drive autobiography-fiction blends and the labels “autobiography” and “novel,” as well as of the characteristic features of these often-mixed genres.


NEH Fellowship Opportunity

Pictorial Histories and Myth-Histories: “Graphic Novels” of the Mixtecs and Aztecs

 A Summer Institute in Oaxaca, Cholula, and Mexico City. June 29 – July 26, 2014

 Announcing a fellowship opportunity for twenty-four select faculty participants from two-year, community, and four-year colleges and universities, designed to

enhance their teaching and research by engaging with scholars in a wide range of disciplines in the study of pictorial histories of ancient Mexico.

Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and sponsored by The Community College Humanities Association, this four-week Institute, held on-site in locations in Oaxaca, Puebla and Mexico City, will enable Summer Fellows to explore the new collaborative scholarship focusing on the reading and interpretation of the painted histories and myth-histories of the Mixtecs of Oaxaca and the Aztecs of central Mexico and Puebla, which open a window onto how these Mesoamerican peoples conceived of “history” and of their own existential situations.


Seminars and on-site field study will be conducted with the following visiting scholar specialists: M. C. Alejandro de Avila B. (Director, Ethnobotanical Garden,

Oaxaca); Dana Leibsohn (Professor of Art, and Faculty Director of the Five Colleges Digital Humanities Project, Smith College); John Pohl (Art History, UCLA); John Monaghan (Chair, Anthropology, University of Illinois at Chicago); Ethelia Ruiz M. (Dirección de Estudios Históricos at INAH); Karl Taube (Anthropology, University of California at Riverside); and Marcus Winter (archaeologist, INAH Centro, Oaxaca).


Stipend: The Institute covers all lodging, internal travel and site-visit costs for all scheduled activities during the project as specified in the detailed Daily Schedule. Participants are responsible for meals and personal expenses, and for individual travel arrangements to Oaxaca and return from Mexico City. As all logistics, internal travel and lodging have been pre-arranged and pre-paid by CCHA, the NEH grant stipend monies of $3,300 for four week projects have been pooled to cover these expenses; any remaining balance is paid directly to Fellows as a cash stipend to help defray external travel costs and/or other Institute expenses.


For further details and Application Information please visit our website at


Or you may also contact one of the Project Co-Directors:

Dr. Laraine Fletcher, Adelphi University, Anthropology, emerita,

Dr. George Scheper, Director, Odyssey Program, and Senior Lecturer, Advanced Academic Programs, The Johns Hopkins University,


Application Deadline: March 4, 2014

CFP for MLA 2015 in Vancouver, British Columbia

The Executive Committee of the Discussion Group on the Two Year College will be posting two Calls for Papers for the 2015 MLA Convention.  Below is the first one; the second, on Digital Pedagogy, will be posted in the next few weeks.

Session type: Discussion Group
Organization: The Two Year College Discussion   Group
Title of session: Writing in Context: Content Based   First Year Composition
Submission requirements: 300 word abstracts
Deadline for submissions: 14 March 2014
Description: While composition is often a standalone   course, some colleges offer it as discipline-specific writing, either as a   linked course or integrated into a learning community. Brief presentations   that explore successes and challenges as well as the impact on student   success.