UPDATE: Curriculum, Politics, and the Student/Teacher of English Oct. 16-17, 2009

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2nd Conference on the Future of English Studies; University of Illinois @ Springfield

Curriculum, Politics and the Student/Teacher of English:
The 2nd Conference on the Future of English Studies
University of Illinois @ Springfield
October 16-17 2009
Keynote Speaker:
Professor Richard Miller, Rutgers University
In our classrooms we regularly encounter students who think no more of relying on websites, cell phones, iPods, Facebook, YouTube, and blogs for news, information, knowledge, opinions, and pleasure than previous generations thought of relying on newspapers, magazines, journals, and books. Such increasing dependency on images and visual stimulation for information and gratification jeopardizes the traditional focus of English Studies—reading and writing—and thus the humanistic enterprise. The pressures from politicians, administrators, and public experts to place more emphasis on new technologies and practical skills further undermines the traditional injunction of English Studies, as Martha Nussbaum has argued, to cultivate humanity by developing the capacities for critical self-examination and looking at the world from other points of view. All of this seems to mean that English Studies is out-of-business-as-usual. But the question of how to adapt, or even whether to adapt, to changing demographics and political, technological, and social pressures has no easy answer.
Our keynote speaker, Richard Miller, argues that we are experiencing the greatest change in human communication ever. Web 2.0 technologies are drastically altering how knowledge and texts are produced, mediated, and consumed. Such changes require educators in the humanities to re-think (perhaps re-mix) theories and practices related to teacher education, reading strategies, and writing pedagogies. Professor Miller will give two presentations. The first, "Making Our Work Visible", will examine strategies for centralizing the humanities in Web 2.0 culture. In the second, he will lead a discussion on how to attain and use resources in troubling economic times.
His work with the New Humanities Project can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/user/newhumanities
Conference on the Future of English Studies
We invite proposals on any topic related to the pressures that English Studies, from the secondary to the university level, face from technological, political, economic, and other spheres of influence. We especially welcome proposals that address the following questions:
*What is English's purpose?
*What is or should be the focus of English at the secondary level?
*What needs to change in teacher education?
*What is the function of the language arts when the image becomes the primary source of knowledge and information?
*What are English teachers to do with public policy that emphasizes green technology, job re-training, and scientific research over and above liberating the mind from custom, habit, and routine?
*How can English teachers at secondary schools and universities work together?
*How are schools of education preparing new teachers to address the relationship between language skills and politics and ideology?
*How does an economic recession affect what English Studies does or represents?
*How can English teachers affect real change in public policy and educational practices?
*How do we in the profession explain to those outside of it what we do and why if we ourselves are no longer sure?
*How can we argue for the relevance of English Studies in a world that, increasingly, seems to get along quite well without it?
Conference on the Future of English Studies
*Why should English Studies be a site for humanization and social transformation?
*Why should English Studies become Cultural Studies?
*Why should it "teach the conflicts?"
*Why should new teachers question disciplinary boundaries?
Please submit 500-word abstracts for individual papers or panels to Sara Cordell (scord1@uis.edu) or William Carpenter (wcarp2@uis.edu) by July 15, 2009.
Email submissions preferred. Acceptances will be sent by August 15, 2009.
Travel to Springfield The city of Springfield, IL, is accessible via Interstates 55 and 72. It is located approximately 90 miles northeast of St. Louis, MO and 80 miles south of Bloomington/Normal, IL. If flying to the area, check flights to and from St. Louis, Bloomington, Peoria, and Springfield. Chicago's airports are all over 200 miles away.
Hotels Hotels within a short driving distance to campus range from $59 to $99 a night. Participants looking to stay downtown near the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum can choose from several bed and breakfasts and hotels.
Registration fees and procedures Registration fees are $75 for full-time college and university instructors and $65 for students and secondary, middle-school, part-time, adjunct, and graduate instructors. Fees can be paid by credit card or check. Registration fees include all meals.
If you have any questions about the conference, please contact Bill Carpenter, (217) 206-8332, or Sara Cordell, (217) 206-7213.