Teaching Literature in the Time of Covid: Transitions and Transactions VI

deadline for submissions: 
January 15, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Transitions and Transactions Conference, BMCC


TRANSITIONS AND TRANSACTIONS VI: Teaching Literature in the Time of COVID

We invite community college teachers as well as teachers of Freshman and Sophomore English at four-year colleges to submit paper and panel proposals for the sixth Transitions and Transactions (online) conference. This year’s conference is hosted by the Borough of Manhattan Community College English Department in collaboration with New York College English Association (NYCEA) on April 8-9, 2022. The Transitions and Transactions conference is dedicated to helping community college teachers of literature flourish and excel as we envision, invent, and expand our ideas of teaching given the demands of the community college population, the challenges and constraints specific to our profession, and the myriad pressures of our particular historical moment.  

At the 2022 Transitions and Transactions VI conference, we will focus on “Teaching Literature in the Time of COVID,” soliciting papers that explore the unprecedented challenges community college professors of English have faced during this time of pandemic. We investigate and interrogate the pressures teachers and students have encountered: having to learn a host of new technologies on top of the courses’ subject matters; experiencing the erosion of private space and private time; attempting to communicate academic material through unfamiliar media, all the while instructing a student population disproportionately affected by the hardships caused by the pandemic. This year’s collaboration with NYCEA highlights our commonalities given the unprecedented circumstances we are facing as teachers.

Our conference theme invites scholars to examine how the hardships of COVID have led to pedagogical self-examination, change, community building and political activism. What form will the post-COVID classroom take? Is the technology we were forced to use to keep schools open destined to become a fixture in classrooms going forward? Was this a “blip” or is this the new normal? How have these transformations affected the way we think about what we do in the classroom?

The conference is an opportunity for teachers to come together and discuss the impact of the “recent normal” on our teaching, our thinking about what we are doing in the classroom, and its effects going forward.

Related questions include: Where is the community in the “Zoom room” or in the online format? What new online etiquettes are emerging or need to emerge? How can social and intellectual community be nurtured and developed in this space for faculty? How can we better accommodate older faculty less familiar with technology? What challenges does the new online format pose for the non-traditional student? How do we establish intimacy but also enforce distance when needed in the online platform? How do we translate successful classroom stratagems into these new formats?

We hope to reflect on the ways COVID has changed virtual and asynchronous instruction; how teachers have reinvented their courses to include the dialogic element so necessary for literature instruction; how teachers gauge their level of involvement in online teaching -- what works best and why? We hope to discuss how the new environment has forced teachers to become students again in terms of technology; how teachers hold students accountable to meeting academic standards; and finally, how the new format has made plagiarism a persistent gadfly and what teachers are doing to address it.

We are also concerned about the ways the new environment has posed challenges for students who need to learn how to participate all over again; how literature instruction poses pedagogical challenges in the new format, especially for developmental writers. We ask:  When does streamlining or standardizing one’s course contents for “access and efficiency” tip over into the danger of self-commodifying or miss out on the specific and diverse needs of our students? 

Potential Topics for Papers and Panel Presentations:


Innovative Course Design

Collective and Crowdsourced Learning

Multimodal Learning Online

Critical Reading Instruction

The Importance of Visual Design to Online Learning

Race, Class, Gender, Ability, and the Digital Divide

Teaching the Pandemic: Plague and Metaphor

Imagining the Zoom Room: Challenges of dialogue

Faceless Classrooms: Teaching to names, memes and screen effects

How do the new formats change expectations about student performance?

The “Always-Available” Instructor

Teaching Literature: Canon or Contemporary?

Background Noise: the new “other” 

The Camera as Classroom

Access and Equity

How to wrest Discussion Boards from a “like” party

Fostering Discussion and Debate in the Online format

The Break-out Rooms

New Ethics and Etiquettes

The Pedagogical Possibilities of Chat

Open-source and OER Materials for the Virtual Classroom

Pooling Resources for Instruction/Collaborative Design

Open Education Resources

Screen Envy: Competing Screens and the learning environment

Using supplemental methods: Video, Mixed Media, Memes, Cultural Studies, Podcasts and Auditory Storytelling


*Please note: Participants in the cancelled 2020 conference, Teaching Literature among the Arts: Your papers will be welcome at this conference. If you’d like to add, “Teaching Literature among the Arts during COVID, or online,” that would be directly germane to this discussion.


This is an interdisciplinary call extended to community college literature and writing instructors, teachers of Freshman and Sophomore English and graduate students. Panel proposals are welcome and we extend a special invitation to our NYCEA colleagues.


The deadline for submissions is January 15, 2022.  Please include the name(s) of presenter(s), affiliation, email address, title of presentation, abstract of approximately 250 words, and a brief bio.  Send to:


Dr. Manya Steinkoler and Dr. Stephanie Oppenheim



Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY

English Department

199 Chambers Street

New York, NY 10007