Conference on Community Writing

October 2017 Theme: “Engaging Networks and Ecologies”

Boulder, CO  (Conference dates and venue, TBD)


Community writing teachers, students, scholars, and activists are in the unique position to study and influence how writing, images, and ideas create impact and circulate to address the issues facing our communities—climate change, population movements related to climate and political instability, systemic misogyny, racially motivated police killings, mass incarceration, expansion of corporate rights, resurgence of anti-immigrant rhetorics, educational injustices, gun violence—from both scholarly and practical perspectives. We believe that we are at a crossroads for higher education, broadly, and for Rhetoric and Writing Studies, specifically, and we must engage deeply, through every facet of our work, with the task at hand, with the ecology in which we live, and with the other members of our ecology, to whom we are profoundly connected.

In October of 2015, the first CCW convened to explore the relationships between communication, writing, and social action. A conference goal was to build a national network of people, ideas, resources, and support structures — an engaged infrastructure — to make the work we do in our communities more sustainable, impactful, and rewarding.  Given presentations and conversations during and after the first conference, we want to highlight a productive challenge to the concept of infrastructure that emerged. We do not want our collective-building efforts to become static and hegemonic.  What many of us envision is much more fluid and dynamic.  Of course, even our understandings of “community” and “writing” are myriad and in constant flux.  So, with full recognition of the diversity of projects, the undesirability of definitive definitions, and the challenges and paradoxes of working in community writing, we believe that the inclusion of multiple viewpoints and the deferral of a precise definition of terms create the fluid and non-exclusionary boundaries of this thing we call “community writing.”

For the 2017 conference, we ask that you think of this evolving entity not only as an infrastructure but as an ecology. The second Conference on Community Writing will convene around the theme of “Engaging Networks and Ecologies.” This theme alludes to academic theories, but is also grounded in daily practice and lived experience. Networks mean people having relationships: teachers with students, activists with governance, community members with students, and so on, and these can be in real or virtual environments. Ecologies mean the places we live, the health of the bodies that make up communities, and the interconnectedness of humans, non-humans, things, and places.  We function within our community ecologies, however large or small in size.  It is clear that impacts in parts of our ecology reverberate and can resonate in other parts. We witness this through our work in environmental communication, community literacies, service-learning, community publishing, advocacy writing, archival research, community-based research, critical literacies, activist rhetorics, and the many other kinds of work we do both inside and outside of the academy.

We also want to invoke, through our conference theme, theories of ecological writing studies, and to suggest a more deliberate synergy between these theories and those of community writing.  Following the social turn in rhetoric and composition, and the subsequent attention given to postprocess theories of writing, “ecology” became an increasingly popular lens through which to understand writing, as in ecological models of writing and student positioning (Cooper; Syverson), ecocomposition (Dobrin and Weisser), rhetorical ecologies (Edbauer), and postcomposition (Dobrin).  By engaging with the complex writing and rhetorical ecologies of, for example, texts, images, hashtags, or memes discussing racially motivated killings or misogynist political discourse, or of responses both on the ground and over social media to the Dakota Access Pipeline protests or the Long Island University faculty lockout, community writing scholarship and praxis has the potential to help catalyze change in communities writ small and large.

With all of these theories and implications of the concepts of networks and ecologies in mind, we ask:

  • How can we apply or use ecological theories of writing as distributed, hyper-networked, circulatory, and remixed in order to strengthen our work to catalyze change in our communities?
  • How do concepts of rhetorical contagion (Seas) and theories of circulation of writing, images (Gries), and ideas impact the kinds of writing we have our students produce for public audiences?
  • How do these ecological theories enhance our conception of community writing, and how do they call us to rethink, throw out, or revise our conception of what community writing, however defined, is and does in the world?
  • How do our assignments and our pedagogy in general shift if we conceive of writing as system or ecology, rather than an individual product directed at an individual recipient?
  • How might new materialist and post-human theories impact our understanding of community writing’s scope, meaning, and potential impacts?
  • How do students come to understand the complexity of post-human, ecological writing theory?
  • How can we work to expand our networks and ecologies to include the voices and writings of historically and chronically marginalized members of our communities?
  • How might we define “community” or “writing” given 21st-century shifts in how communities coalesce and are maintained? How would these definitions inform our praxis?
  • What projects have you completed or envisioned that take advantage of digital technologies aiding community development?
  • “Network” and “ecology” are both terms borrowed from other disciplines. How can other disciplinary knowledge influence the work of community writing?

We welcome proposals that address any of these questions or that interpret our theme in any number of ways.  Aca­d­e­mics of all lev­els, community partners, public intellectuals, activists, and students involved with engage­d pedagogy, research, activism, and social change are invited to submit a proposal for an indi­vid­ual paper, a pan­el of 3 or more pre­sen­ters, a roundtable discussion, an interactive work­shop, or a dig­i­tal “poster”  that will help us under­stand how writ­ing func­tions socially to inform, empower, and trans­form, as well as how we can engage networks and ecologies to sup­port community-based research, ped­a­gogy, and activism.

If you envision another format for your presentation that is not included here, propose it!  We’re always excited to mix things up!

Concurrent Sessions

A traditional panel session consists of 3-4 speakers presenting for a total of 75 minutes, including at least 15 minutes of Q and A.  Presenters may propose full panels or individual presentations (15-20 minutes) that will be combined by the Conference Planning Committee.

Roundtable Discussion

In a roundtable, selected participants (often experts in a given field) engage in a focused discussion on a specific theme with one or more facilitators guiding or moderating the dialogue.  Roundtables should be proposed as full panels, but with the full time used for discussion among presenters and audience members.  Roundtable discussion proposals should include a list of talking points, discussion questions attendees may be asked to consider, and an explanation of the practical relevance of the discussion.

Interactive Workshops

Workshop sessions will consist of 2 hours of interactive presentation and collaborative work with the audience.  We encourage workshop facilitators to include both academic and non-academic stakeholders for community writing.  Thus, successful workshop proposals will provide a theoretical background, a discussion of community context, a presentation of fruitful collaboration, and practical tasks for the audience that the workshop panel might facilitate.  Workshops are designed to be highly interactive.

Digital Posters

Digital Posters are “presentations” best made through the affordances of digital media.  Each poster will run on a cycle for half a day, so the digital posters should be self-explanatory.  In addition, 15 minutes will be designated on that day for the poster creator to do an informal question and answer with conference attendees.


Proposals for all formats should be 200-500 words.  A cover page should include the proposal type, presenter’s name, professional title and affiliation, and contact information, as well as the paper or session title.

Submission deadline is February 3, 2017. 

Submission link : Submit page

For questions about the conference, email the Conference Chair, Veronica House, at .