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2024 Annual Conference

Demystifying the Center
February 29 – March 2 Fayetteville, AR
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2024 Annual Conference 

Demystifying the Center
February 29 – March 2 | Fayetteville, AR

In the Ozark Mountains during autumn and winter, morning fog is a familiar companion, gracefully draping the mountaintops before cascading down into the roads and valleys below. At times, it holds everything in a mesmerizing standstill, capturing your senses with jaw-dropping beauty as its presence lingers throughout the day. At other moments, it dissipates swiftly and can be seen for miles. And, of course, at times it is so thick and pervasive that it brings traffic to a crawl, if not a standstill.

 

Yet, the one unwavering truth remains — its inescapable presence always surrounds you. It will always be there; even if it dissipates, it will always return. The question is for how long and to what end.

What we want to explore at the South Central Writing Centers Association 2024 Annual Conference, hosted at the University of Arkansas (Fayetteville, Arkansas), are the ways in which writing center research and practice engage in processes of demystification for students as well as for other campus and community stakeholders. By demystification we mean bringing to light the unspoken rules, values, influencers, processes, behaviors, and structures that exist in academia and other writing or professional discourses. But we also mean bringing those same values, behaviors, and structures into dialogue, bringing them into question, and calling them to account. We welcome presentations on any relevant writing center research and practice, but are especially seeking presentations that engage with the theme above or with the following questions:

  • To what extent does technology, namely recent developments with generative AI, seed new ground for more robust processes of demystification to occur in writing centers and among writers? To what extent do these same developments reinscribe or extend preexisting biases and inequities?

  • What aspects of writing center work remain unnecessarily clouded from students and other stakeholders alike? What work has been done or should be done to provide much-needed clarity?

  • How has your work bridged campus-community divides or drawn attention to new or hitherto marginalized populations’ voices and experiences?

  • To what extent does the process of demystification – whether successful, delayed, or frustrated – represent a key part of your research and practice? To what extent can demystification counteract gatekeeping practices that constrict what epistemologies are valued and seen as valid in academia?

  • How do existing research interests and initiatives surrounding linguistic justice, inclusion, and belonging complement and/or complicate our understanding of work that engages in demystification?

  • How does the process of demystification differ among undergraduate students and graduate students? Nontraditional and traditional students? Neurotypical and neurodivergent students? Disabled students and able-bodied students? LGBTQIA+ students?

  • To what extent does demystification relate to being attuned to the “present others” (Kranek and Carvajal) - individuals who, while not present, are part of writers’ feedback networks (advisors, committee members, colleagues, and others) and thus influence sessions, socialization as writers, and writing center practice?

 

While these questions draw on myriad conversations in writing center research, a few recent texts have shaped our understanding of this topic in recent years: namely, Faison & Condon’s edited collection Counterstories from the Writing Center (2022), Kranek & Carvajal’s “It’s Crowded in Here” (2021), Baker-Bell’s Linguistic Justice (2020), Zawacki & Lawrence’s Re/Writing the Center (2019), Denny, et al.’s “Tell me Exactly What I Was Doing that Was so Bad’” (2018), and García’s “Unmaking Gringo-Centers” (2017).

Session Format Options

All sessions will be 75 minutes in length and, as this is an in-person conference, must be conducted onsite at the University of Arkansas. Since demystification is an active, dialogue-driven process, we request that all sessions have an active component. Addressing how you will engage your audience should thus be a key part of your proposal.

 

While the session types include the familiar – individual sessions, panels, workshops, roundtables, and Special Interest Groups – we also welcome “other” session types that may fall outside of the familiar conference proposal parameters.

Keynote

Keynote details will be forthcoming, as will keynote session scheduling. Our hope is to have the keynote session kick off the conference and be held during our opening breakfast on Friday, March 1st.

Submission Deadlines

Please submit your proposal via this Microsoft Form by December 15, 2023, 11.59pm CT. If you have any questions, please reach out to the conference chairs. We look forward to seeing you in Northwest Arkansas in late February/early March!

Conference Details
The cost for our conference will be $185 for faculty and staff, and $75 for undergraduate and graduate students/tutors. A registration link will b
e provided in the coming weeks for those of you who wish to register before the end of the year.

The conference hotels are the Holiday Inn Express and the Homewood Suites; special rates for these are $140 and $155/night, respectively. The booking link will be provided in your confirmation email after registering. If you would like the booking link prior to completing your registration to ensure you receive a room in the block rate, please contact the conference chairs.

 

Conference Chairs

Ryan Sheets, PhD

Director, Business Communication Lab

fsheets@uark.edu

Dana Turner Blair

Writing Studio Coordinator

dthaymor@uark.edu

Liza Vammen

Associate Director, Business Communication Lab

evammen@uark.edu

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