Call for Essays: Collaborative Craft and the Work of Writing Programs and Writing Centers

full name / name of organization: 
Alice J. Myatt, University of Mississippi and Lyneé Lewis Gaillet, Georgia State University

We seek proposals that explore the benefits and challenges when intentional, progressive, and deep collaboration occurs between writing programs and writing centers and the internal/external constituencies they serve. We also seek the places and spaces such collaborative praxis happens: between programs, departments, schools and colleges, institutions, or professional and civic communities. This collection will include specific examples of such craft, theoretical exploration of collaborative praxis, strategies for crafting communities of practice, and best practices that will invite and inspire readers to develop their own roadmaps for finding opportunities for collaboration and partnership in their own locales, thus supporting their programmatic and professional goals.

This collection of essays will focus on collaborative community building between and beyond writing programs and writing centers.

As a profession, writing program and writing center administrators (WPAs and WCAs) recognize the value of collaborative work; for example, no fewer than ten of the panels of the July 2013 CWPA conference in Savannah, Georgia, explicitly explored aspects of collaboration, partnering, and/or community in their presentations. Numerous other panels and workshops discussed the value of incorporating intentional collaboration into their administrative work.

Institutions often invoke building community as a term when approaching collaborative projects. The verb building conveys some of the work and investment of time, energy, and resources needed to sustain communities and their work. However, the word craft in the title of this call was carefully chosen as specifically relevant to the partnerships between and beyond writing programs and writing centers: the word implies careful attention, intentional design, regular and consistent development, sustainability, tangible results, and a touch of artistry. For these and other reasons, communities of practice should be crafted rather than just built.

However, when practitioners build relationships and share resources within their individual communities, the potential for inbreeding arises. Interest in sharing resources and engaging in the practices of their particular community may blind individual members to opportunities for engaging with other communities of practice. While not characteristic of all writing programs and all writing centers, nonetheless there are too many times when writing programs and writing centers within the same institution perform their practices so independently of each other that barriers arise that become counterproductive and actually inhibit the work of both communities.

Writing programs and writing centers are both communities of practice, which Wenger (2006) defines as "groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly." At times, collaborative praxis works to craft two independent communities, which are sometimes described as silos, into one larger community of practice that can then partner with other communities in order to achieve specific outcomes. It is this endeavor and its challenges and rewards that this call seeks to explore.

Specifically, we invite proposals that examine:
• How do we craft community between writing programs and writing centers?
• How do we craft community between independent writing programs and WAC programs, or between writing programs and other institutional departments, groups, and organizations?
• How do we craft community among/between a diverse WPA and WCA work force that may include undergraduate and graduate students, contingent, non-tenure-track, staff-only, tenure-track and tenured faculty?
• What practices support collaborative praxis when working with external communities?
• How can writing programs and centers move from being silos to being collaborative partners?
• What best practices craft collaborative communities of practice?
• What is gained and what is lost when moving to a model of intentional and sustained collaboration?
• How do writing programs and writing centers maintain their identities while embracing collaborative work?

Send 750 word proposals (abstracts) and a one-page CV to Alice Johnston Myatt at and Lynée Lewis Gaillet at

Submissions are due by October 15, 2013.
Completed essays will be due February 1, 2014.