Thinking beyond Competition: Envisioning Practices of Collaboration for Doctoral Writers

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association
contact email: 

Please consider submitting an abstract for the following panel at the 2022 Northeast Modern Language Association Conference to be held from March 10-13, 2022, in Baltimore, MD. Abstracts are accepted from June 15 to September 30, 2021.

Submit abstracts of approx. 150-200 words to the NeMLA portal:

Even before the covid-19 pandemic disrupted the infrastructure of support for dissertation writers, a significant gap between need and assistance prevailed. This absence, coupled with the declining percentage in tenured faculty numbers, and a concomitant growth of poorly-waged, precarious adjuncts and graduate student instructors, has increased a paternalistic trend in doctoral writing support, encouraging students to compete with each other for scarce administrative and pedagogical resources and blame themselves when that fails. This culture of competition is heavily weighted towards extrinsic motivation, a process that engenders a myth of exceptional individual effort while lowering self-belief and reinforcing ideologies of product over process. Ultimately, this negates what research regarding the writing process has uncovered about the ways that outcome-oriented directives augment the graduate mental health crisis. 

In contrast, we invite collaborative visions of supporting doctoral writing that help students navigate the dissertation and move towards completion without competition. A collaborative process promotes peer-group communication that connects students with each other, inculcating in them a sense of belonging and confidence in their ability to finish. By inverting the logic of success and simplicity, we argue against supposed “pedagogies of clarity” that seek to impose limits on critical exploration before it has taken place. We are interested in modes of scholarship that restore public knowledge to the heart of academic endeavour. This roundtable invites submissions that critically engage with strategies that re-envision doctoral education with collaboration and more broadly anti-competitive pedagogies. Each speaker will share their experiences and/or research for approximately 5-10 minutes, followed by an open-ended conversation and strategizing not only on what has been done, but what also could be done in order to envision a collaborative approach to doctoral writing.

Please direct any questions to: 

Keith O'Regan, York University

Greg Sharzer, University of Toronto at Missisauga