Papa, PhD Conference, September 22-23, 2011

full name / name of organization: 
Mary Ruth Marotte, Graduate Director, University of Central Arkansas
contact email: 

The editors of the recently published collection Papa, PhD: Essays on Fatherhood by Men in the Academy invite conference submissions on the rewards and challenges of being both a father and an academic. The Papa, PhD conference will be held September 22 and 23, 2011 at the Brewer-Hegeman Conference Center on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, AR.

Much recent discussion about the juxtaposition of parenthood and the academy has focused on the difficulties that female professors face when they choose to become mothers. Books like Mama, PhD: Women Write about Motherhood and Academic Life, edited by Caroline Grant and Elrena Evans, depict the oftentimes bleak prospects of merging the two endeavors. The Papa, PhD conference, like the interdisciplinary essay collection, welcomes the masculine voice into this lively and provocative dialogue. Join us in creating a space for male professors to describe their own experiences of balancing the demands and desires of two worlds that have changed notably throughout the past few decades: fatherhood and academia.

We encourage participants to consider the changing cultural perceptions, representations, and expectations associated with fatherhood, and to explore the impact of such changes on their identities as teachers and scholars. Increasingly, fathers are taking on a more intense role with regard to child-rearing than ever before. How do today's male academics view their participation in the parenting process? How is this changing the nature of the job? Has the evolving role of the father in contemporary society changed the job itself?

We also welcome submissions that focus on how the evolution of fatherhood is changing the face of academia. Have we seen any concrete changes on college campuses to encourage the "professor as interactive father" schemata? What is the climate like for male professors who "want it all"? Are they able to balance fatherhood and the road to tenure? What gives?

Additionally, we invite submissions on mothering and academia, as well as parenthood and professional pursuits more broadly.

Our keynote speaker for the conference will be Ralph James Savarese.
Ralph James Savarese is the author of Reasonable People: A Memoir of Autism and Adoption (Other Press 2007), which Newsweek called a "real life love story and a passionate manifesto for the rights of people with neurological disabilities." It won the Independent Publishers Gold Medal in the category of health/medicine/nutrition, and a chapter was selected as a "notable essay" in the Best American Essays series of 2004. The book was featured on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" (twice), ABC's Nightly News with Charles Gibson," and NPR's "Diane Rehm Show." It was reviewed, or mentioned, quite favorably in Newsweek, GQ, Body & Soul, Disability Studies Quarterly, and numerous other journals and web sites.
He is the co-editor of Papa PhD: Men in the Academy Write about Fatherhood (Rutgers University Press 2011). He is also the co-editor of a special issue of Disability Studies Quarterly entitled "Autism and the Concept of Neurodiversity," which includes the work of some forty contributors (half of whom are on the spectrum), and a special issue of Seneca Review entitled "The Lyrical Body." His long article "Nervous Wrecks and Ginger-nuts: Bartleby at a Standstill" won the Herman Melville Society's Hennig Cohen Prize for an "outstanding contribution to Melville Scholarship." His recent essay "The Lobes of Autobiography: Poetry & Autism" was one of two finalists for the Donald Murray Prize for the best published essay on writing from the National Council for the Teachers of English, and it was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Conference Organizers
Mary Ruth Marotte, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of English and the Director of Graduate Studies in English at the University of Central Arkansas, where she specializes in women's studies and critical theory. Her book, Captive Bodies: American Women Writers Redefine Pregnancy and Childbirth, was released by Demeter Press in October 2008. She lives in Conway, AR with her husband and three children.

Paige Martin Reynolds, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Central Arkansas. Her areas of interest include Shakespeare, British Renaissance Drama, Performance Studies, Gender Studies, and Elizabeth I. She has authored articles published or forthcoming in SEL: Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, ANQ: American Notes and Queries, and 1650-1850: Ideas, Aesthetics, and Inquiries in the Early Modern Era. She lives in Little Rock, AR with her husband and daughter.

Deadline: Abstracts of 400-500 words are due July 1, 2011.

Format: Abstracts must be typed, double-spaced, and paginated. Please include your name, address, phone number and e-mail address. Send submissions electronically to Mary Ruth Marotte at