Understanding WPA Readiness and Renewal

deadline for submissions: 
July 25, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Joe Janangelo and Mark Blaauw-Hara

CFP: Understanding WPA Readiness and Renewal 

Editors: Joe Janangelo and Mark Blaauw-Hara



We invite 250-word proposals for a proposed edited collection entitled Understanding WPA Readiness and Renewal. 

We invite contributors to analyze and theorize their experiences and ideas about readiness and renewal as they apply to WPA work and writing program leadership. We hope you will consider readiness and renewal as intersectional with your life experience inclusive of ableism, age/ism, ethnicity, gender identifications and transitions, linguistic diversity, race, sexuality, and wellbeing. Our thinking draws, in part, from the following texts, which we mention as recommended readings:  


 We see this book as having two parts. Part One will focus on graduate students, “new,” and early-career WPAs. Part Two will center on mid- and later-career (including retired) WPAs.


Project Description

Graduate-program faculty work hard to apprise aspiring WPAs of the promise and perils (Enos and Barrowman) of WPA work, inclusive of the work’s intellectual credibility, leadership possibilities, and potential career trajectories. As integral parts of their preparation, graduate students may assume campus leadership roles, work with, and study the work of, their forebears and peers.

The Council of Writing Program Administrators (CWPA) also works to foster readiness. Two especially catalytic portals are The CWPA Summer Workshop and WPA-GO. Another is the CWPA Mentoring Project. They help pre- and in-service WPAs find colleagues with whom they can confer and collaborate across their careers. 

The workplace is a key site for expanding capacity and gaining expertise. On campus, new challenges welcome and await new WPAs. Many stakeholders, some of them unexpected and many of them impactful, take serious interest in what the “new WPA” will do on campus as they work to serve their school and build their ethos and career.

As scholars and storytellers, we have plans and prescriptions about what happens to early and later-career WPAs. Yet we need data and information regarding WPA readiness and renewal, especially as they are experienced by diverse and effaced populations. We hope to hear about your career “learning curves,” setbacks, departures, and returns inclusive of attendant pressure points, lessons, complications, insights, and satisfactions. 

We suspect that understanding WPA readiness and renewal involves questioning inherited definitions of those patented, patinated terms. It could also involve engaging in candid and nuanced scholarly conversations that reflect, and reflect on, our plans, desires, and fears for and about WPA work. 

Accordingly, we invite 250-word proposals that address, build on, or depart from one of the following questions: 


Part One: WPA Readiness Questions 

Consider Your Early On-the-Job Experiences 

The workplace is where preparation, advice, scenarios, shadowing, and simulations meet tests of real-world readiness. It is likely that, in many ways, you felt well prepared for the role of WPA. However, it is also common for unique institutional contexts and scenarios to involve on-the-job learning, additional research, calls for help, and more.

  • What defines, informs, drives, undermines, re-fuels, or complicates WPA readiness?

  • How has your connection to your graduate-school mentors dissipated, intensified, or evolved?

  • What career advice, encouragements, and forewarnings rang true or false once you were working on campus? Based on your experience, can you offer any ideas for graduate student preparation of future WPAs or CWPA organizational intake? What would you say to the next generations of developing WPAs about readiness?

  • Were there any important workplace activities or situations for which your mentors and education did not adequately prepare you?

  • Beyond your graduate degree and formal preparation, what told you that you were ready or not ready to begin work as a WPA?

  • Were there any moments or experiences that showed you, or others at your campus, that you were ready to assume writing program leadership?

  • Were there any moments or experiences that revealed that you were not quite ready? When they occurred, what help or guidance did you seek? Did you engage in any particular self-scrutiny or reflection?

  • How did you gain the confidence to speak up or out at meetings?

  • Were there any decisions you made, or risks you took, that you would repeat or reconsider? Were there any you regret?

  • How did you work to develop your ethos? How did you work to evince collegiality and build healthy and productive relationships and networks on campus and in the profession, including with your senior colleagues? 

  • How did you prove your value to your new school? How did you show your school’s stakeholders what you know, have learned, and can contribute?

  • Can you recall times when you experienced vulnerability, insecurity, or precarity while working to project resourcefulness and confidence as a WPA?

  • Were there times you did not feel ready or capable of making informed or effective decisions? How did you address those situations? 

  • Think about any mistakes you made. Remember situations, causes, ideas, and people you misread or misprioritized. What have they taught you about WPA readiness? 

  • How did you move from being competent at your work to achieving something more? How did you move beyond survival (e.g. keeping your job) toward setting a higher performance bar for yourself and the program? How did you develop a concept of what “something more” might be for you?

  • Have you ever found yourself ready to leave a WPA position or school because you sense it a no-go or wrong fit, perhaps due to racism, transphobia, homophobia, or sexism? What can aspiring WPAs learn from your decision and decision-making processes?  


Part Two: WPA Renewal Questions 

Consider Your Ongoing Life and Working Life 

To a large extent, continuing in a WPA role is a day-by-day, semester-by-semester, quarter-by-quarter, year-by-year decision. Perhaps, before you realize it, you have become a “Career WPA.”

  • Think about your graduate-school and early-career aspirations. To what degree have you achieved them? To what degree has achieving those things satisfied you? Is anything lacking?

  • Do you have any advice for graduate students or earlier-career colleagues about planned longevity or building a career as a WPA? 

  • Reflecting on your career, can you offer any ideas for graduate student preparation or CWPA organizational mentoring? 

  • Are there things about pursuing long-term WPA work you wish you had known earlier in your career? What are they? 

  • As an experienced WPA, have you ever found yourself in need of intellectual, pedagogical, or administrative renewal? Did you take any steps (e.g., take courses or develop a new scholarly specialization) to seek renewal? If so, what did you learn about your work and yourself?

  • Have larger societal issues--the BLM movement, the Tr**p presidency, the rise of “fake news,” for instance--affected how you see the WPA’s role? If so, how?

  • Did you ever transition or stop out as your program’s WPA? If so, how did you know it was time to leave for good or for a while? Were you involved in the leadership transition? If so, how? 

  • Before stopping out, were there any projects you wanted to finish? What were they and why did you want to finish them?

  • Did you have an intentional exit plan or strategy? What was it and how did you come to design it?

  • Did you ever transition back into the WPA at your school or somewhere else? Why did you decide to return? How did you prepare for your return? 

  • Did you return to WPA work with any specific goals or projects in mind? Were any things different when you returned? If so, how did that affect you?

  • Do (or did) you experience particular moments of creativity, satisfaction, or accomplishment as a WPA? What made them meaningful, even if not altogether positive?

  • Looking forward, what are your hopes and plans for your life and your career?

  • Do you carry any guilt or shame about people, past or present, in your writing program that you feel you have misled, undervalued, exploited, or dismissed? What can new or experienced WPAs learn from that? 

  • If you could have WPA career “do-overs,” what would they be? What would you do, not do, or do differently?

  • How did you respond to bad experiences, trauma, and errors in leadership and judgment? How did you rebound and gain resilience (Stenberg and Minter)? Did you learn anything from your response that could be of use to current and future WPAs and the faculty who help prepare them?

  • What have you learned as your identity has evolved from “new WPA” to senior colleague? Have you been the focus of ageism by your colleagues? Now that you have proven your worth (e.g. by earning tenure, continuing status, or otherwise) do you ever have to prove your relevance?

  • How much longer would you like to be a WPA? What projects and learning experiences do you hope lie ahead for you? 

  • If you have considered, or are considering, retirement, what factors and needs inform your decision-making? 


Proposal Guidelines and Timeline

We welcome proposals for solo- and joint-authored chapters.

A) Please specify the section to which you wish to contribute: Readiness or Renewal

B)  Begin your proposal by listing a question you will address. We invite you to address a question from our list or to compose one of your own.

Please Note: Parts A and B do not count as part of the 250 words.

C) Please craft a proposal that is 250 words or less. Please situate your work in relevant scholarship and research (e.g. WPA work, critical race theory, leadership studies, developmental psychology) and use the current MLA stylesheet for your references and Works Cited. Your Works Cited does not count as part of the 250 words.


Proposals Due:July 25, 2021

Response to Authors:August 15, 2021

Chapter Draft Due:December 15, 2021

Please send proposals and inquiries to readinessrenewal@gmail.com We look forward to hearing from you!