Cooperating and Collaborating: Creating Community in the 21st Century

deadline for submissions: 
July 21, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Bowling Green State University
contact email:

As doctoral students in the Rhetoric & Writing Ph.D. program at BGSU, we are part of a tradition that strives to cultivate collaboration among graduate students, faculty, and community. This commitment to a collaborative atmosphere reflects the evolving spirit of studies in the humanities, particularly in the field of Rhetoric and Composition. However, such a spirit is not limited to Rhetoric and Composition or even the humanities. For example, “radical collaboration” is a concept central to the way Stanford University’s works. We see this conference as an opportunity to foster radical collaboration, inviting our graduate student colleagues from across disciplines to explore what it means to collaborate as graduate students in our scholarship, teaching, and service.

In Writing Together, Andrea Lunsford and Lisa Ede share how their collaboration began as friendship in graduate school:

We met in graduate school, where being together meant hanging out, sharing our successes and failures as teachers, and commiserating over the stresses of comprehensive exams and dissertation writing…. These early experiences wove bonds between us, as did our interest in and growing commitment to rhetoric and writing…. So we were “together” in our friendship and in our interests before we were together as writers.

Indeed, much of graduate school involves engaging in this disciplinary practice that may very well extend beyond our current locations and span our careers. Lunsford and Ede’s example of peer-to-peer collaboration is just one of many lenses through which we might explore how, where, and with whom we collaborate in graduate school.


This fifth annual 21st Century Englishes Conference takes as its theme collaboration, which Lindal Buchanan has defined as “a cooperative endeavor involving two or more people that results in a rhetorical product, performance, or event.” Given this theme we seek to explore ways in which collaborators, as Buchanan puts it, “forge and fire thunderbolts” together to achieve a common purpose. We also seek to explore how collaborators collaborate, considering both their roles and their material conditions. In studying collaborative writing from seven major professions, Lunsford and Ede found there is “not A mode of collaborative writing but a number of modes” and an individual may “occupy multiple and shifting roles”. Broadly, then, this year’s conference asks how collaboration lives in the 21st century, given advances in technology, globalization, transdisciplines, and institutional mandates.

We invite individual and panel proposals on this theme from graduate students as well as their collaborators (colleagues, faculty, staff, students, research participants, community members, etc.). These proposals may be prompted by, but are not limited to, the questions below.

What is collaboration?
What constitutes and/or fosters collaboration?
What makes graduate student collaboration unique or different?
What historical precedents help establish/encourage collaboration within or across disciplines?

What is the materiality of collaboration?
How might listening, acting, and speaking contribute to collaboration?
How, when, and where do we (under)value collaboration?
In what ways might collaboration function among English sub-disciplines?
How are collaborative efforts influenced by space/place, technology, bodies, and/or cultures?

Why collaborate?
To what extent do we consider collaboration as survival in academic contexts and beyond?
How might collaboration challenge institutional values?
In what ways might collaboration function as pedagogy?

Who collaborates?
How might artifacts, materials, and objects function as collaborators?
What might intergenerational collaboration look like?
How might mentoring and/or intergenerational relationships foster collaboration?
How might power/outside relationships influence collaboration?

Individual/Project Proposals*: Please include a title, a 50 word abstract to include in the program, and 250 word proposal. Also include presenter(s) name(s), email(s), and university affiliation(s). Presenters should plan on 15 minutes per project. Proposals of similar theme will be grouped in 75 minute panels (including Q & A) of 3-4 projects.

Panel Proposals: Please include a title, a 50 word abstract of the panel, a 750 word proposal, and 50 word narrative of the relationships between the presenters to include in the program. Also include presenters names, emails, and university affiliations. Panels should plan for 75 minutes total, including Q & A time. There is no limit to the number of panelists, but we ask that all panelists are active contributors/facilitators during the panel.

*If you have a project that is co-authored, we recommend submitting it as individual/project proposal. If there are 3 or more collaborators, we recommend submitting it as a panel proposal.

In the spirit of innovation and presentations that explicitly invite collaboration with/among audience members, we invite projects and panels to structure their delivery in any interactive manner they please, such as workshops, roundtables, teaching demonstrations, or creative readings. Each room will have a projector, computer station, and white boards. We are also happy to work with you to provide the kind of space that could help facilitate your presentation.