Alienation and De-alienation in the Composition Classroom (CEA at MLA 2021)

deadline for submissions: 
March 7, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Andrew Beutel/College English Association
contact email: 

This panel, sponsored by the College English Association, explores how the concept of alienation can be applied to a field in which it has not received very much attention: composition pedagogy. Generally meaning an undesirable separation between self and world (i.e., other human beings, nature, and social roles, norms, and institutions), alienation has been analyzed in various contexts by philosophers, psychologists, sociologists, theologians, and critical theorists. While it came to be viewed as problematic and outmoded with the rise of postmodernism, the concept is far from obsolete today. On the contrary, alienation remains both a widely experienced psychosocial issue and a vital theoretical and diagnostic tool. It is particularly relevant in the composition classroom, where more and more students, often from non-traditional linguistic and/or disadvantaged backgrounds, find the discourse of academic writing alien and struggle with feelings of deficiency, powerlessness, and detachment. Accordingly, this panel seeks papers that conceptualize not only ways in which composition students, especially in their first year of college, may experience alienation but also how instructors can combat the phenomenon and de-alienate their classrooms in turn.

Please send a 250-300 word abstract as well as a brief academic biography by Saturday, March 7, to Andrew Beutel at