full name / name of organization:
Lisa Langstraat, Colorado State University
Generation Vet: Composition, Veterans, and the Post-911 University
Since the “Post-9/11” GI Bill, intended to subsidize tuition for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, passed in 2009, colleges and universities have been preparing for a potential 25% increase in the number of vets attending their institutions. Significant preparation is, indeed, necessary: According to a 2009 ACE survey, only 57% of all colleges and universities provided services for vets, and only 40% offered faculty training for working with vets. Composition classes are an important location for addressing these pedagogical and administrative issues, and the presence of veterans in our composition classrooms presents both opportunities and challenges that demand our attention.
Yet there is a paucity of scholarship that addresses the needs and interests of vets enrolled in today’s composition courses. We need a greater understanding of the literacy expectations and experiences vets bring to campus, particularly as they transition from active duty to student status. This collection will address these issues. Possible topics might include but are not limited to:
Transitional Literacies: What do we need to know about the literacy practices most common for active military personnel? How do those literacy practices inform student-veterans’ approaches to and processes of composing as they transition to college writing? How can writing teacher/scholars negotiate the common challenges that veterans face during their transition from active duty, such as changing family relationships, shifting experiences of authority and leadership, and the feelings of alienation as veterans are placed in classes with students of traditional age and faculty whose political perspectives may be radically different from veterans’?
Life-Writing and Autoethnography: How might writing about the experiences of war or of returning from war assist the veteran writer in transitioning to civilian life? How might autoethnographic writing help student-veterans place themselves and their experiences against the backdrop of culture and history? At the same time, what are the risks of such writing for student and faculty alike, and what supports are needed for student-veterans who, having been invited to do so, lay bare their experiences, often to the shock of civilian faculty and students? What professional development might faculty need to understand the ethical implications of writing thus invited and composed? What are the best forms of life-writing assignments for student-veteran audiences?
The “Signature Wounds” of Iraq and Afghanistan Wars: What do writing teachers need to know about Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? How might these conditions affect cognitive processes, interpersonal communication skills, etc.? What pedagogical approaches best address the needs of students experiencing TBI or PTSD?
Collaborations with Veterans Services Offices in the University/College and Community: Given that 94% of student veterans who have an active mentor are more likely to “succeed” or complete the curriculum they are enrolled in, collaboration between institutional programs is essential. As more post-secondary institutions develop programs for student-veterans, what kinds of productive collaborations can compositionists forge with those offices? What are the advantages of veteran-designated writing courses? How might compositionists contribute to faculty development regarding veteran populations? What are the intersections between student-veterans’ needs and those of the general adult student population?
Gender,Sexuality, Race and Class: How can compositionists identify and address the educational needs of the 18% of veterans who are women? How can GLBT students and faculty negotiate queerness, given the current political climate surrounding the revocation of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policies? Since military recruits are drawn overwhelmingly from the South and from rural areas and that both African-American and Latino/a students are statistically over-represented in the military, how do issues of race and class impact student-veterans’ educational experiences? How can composition teacher/scholars develop curricula and pedagogies that address the needs and best interests of first-generation student-veterans?
Multimodal Composition: How might emerging forms of text production and circulation offer new opportunities for student-veteran writers? To what extent have student veterans already used multimodal composing processes while on active duty? Might multimodal composing processes provide a generational link between civilian and veteran student audiences? How might technology and multimodal composition help to bridge instructional gaps when veterans are deployed midsemester?
We welcome writing in a variety of genres, as well as pieces authored by student-veterans or co-authored by student-veterans and faculty. Essays should be between 5,000-7,000 words.
Send abstracts (title, 500 word description, and brief author bio) or requests for further information to by May 1, 2011 to Lisa Langstraat (firstname.lastname@example.org or Sue Doe (email@example.com).