CFP: Wikis, Authority and the Public Sphere (3/15/06; MLA '06)

full name / name of organization: 
Amit Ray
contact email: 

CFP: Wikis, Authority and the Public Sphere (3/15/06; MLA '06)

Proposed MLA Special Session organized by Dr. Amit Ray (Department of =20=

Language and Literature) and Erhardt Graeff (Department of =20
Information Technology), Rochester Institute of Technology.

Please send 250-word abstract and CV by March 15th to:

  "Wikis, Authority and the Public Sphere"

As social computing practices continue to modify and transform how =20
cultural texts can be generated and circulated, written communities =20
fostered and sustained by wikis offer some insight into the =20
possibilities and pitfalls of dynamic, group =93authored=94 content =20
production. The fame (and infamy) of Wikipedia as an example of on-=20
line wiki-activity begins to address some of the theoretical issues =20
about authorship raised in late structuralist and poststructuralist =20
thought. For many in the humanities and social sciences, the de-=20
centering of authorship in favor of discursive and systemic modes =20
more attuned to power and historicity across the field of =20
representation has led to novel methods for critical interpretation =20
and evaluation. As such, this panel will consider the avenues by =20
which wiki activity and related social computing phenomena further =20
complicate traditional notions of authorship and, thus, associated =20
issues of authority, originality and value.

Wikis are software programs that allow users to create and edit web =20
pages with a web browser. The implications of open access on the =20
creation and editing of content is profound. In an unprecedented way, =20=

wikis allow for discourse to emerge that is continually negotiated =20
and articulated through a community of users; sometimes, literally, =20
thousands of interlocutors. The properties of texts that have emerged =20=

from active collaboration test the boundaries of established avenues =20
of knowledge production and modern institutions of knowledge and =20
authority. The recent controversies surrounding Wikipedia speak to =20
the sense of encroachment felt by many established media and =20
information outlets.

This panel seeks papers that analyze and assess prominent examples of =20=

wiki collaboration from various theoretical perspectives. We seek =20
papers that address how wikis function in the context of established =20
media and the public sphere. As wikis present the attendant risks =20
associated with any social forum (misrepresentation, hate-speech, =20
hoaxes, vandalism, and the like), how do wiki communities debate, =20
shape and regulate the mores, practices, even the terminology, of =20
public discourse?

Amit Ray, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Literary and Cultural Studies

Rochester Institute of Technology
College of Liberal Arts, 06-2309
90 Lomb Memorial Drive
Rochester, NY 14623
Phone: 585 475-2437
Fax: 585 475-7120

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Received on Mon Feb 20 2006 - 19:29:19 EST