There’s been some good discussion on some of the comp/rhet-type blogs I routinely read about the way that the Conference for College Composition and Communication organizes itself and selects presentations. Clancy “CultureCat” Ratliff summarizes and links to other folks in this post right here, so no need for me to re-link again and again.
A few thoughts based on what folks have said in these places:
* The CCCCs doesn’t allow for multiple submissions, but in a way, it kind of does. You can only propose one “panel speaking” role, but you can also propose a role on a “special interest group” (SIG) or a workshop. For example, this past year, I was part of proposals for a panel, a workshop, and a SIG, and the only one that got accepted was for the SIG. A minor role for certain, but enough of a role to seek funding from EMU and to justify the expense on my taxes.
* I kind of like Jenny’s and Clancy’s idea about making the confernence on big huge collection of SIGs, which would mean that just about anyone who wanted some speaking role could have one. But at the same time, what I’d like to see at that sort of version of the CCCCs would be several highly select and competitive panels, and I suppose I say that because of my own habits. When I go to the CCCCs, I tend to go to two different kinds of presentations: I go to panels/roundtables/etc. about things I don’t know much about, and I tend to go to the “big-wig” presentations.
I very rarely go to things at the CCCCs about computers and technology (well, with the acception of the panels I’m on) because that’s stuff I already know about. Tell me something new. And I like going to the really crowded “rock star” panels because, hey, they’re rock stars! The last one of these I remember going to featured Wayne Booth and Peter Elbow. A lot of what they said was, er, “problematic,” but hey, it was still pretty cool to see these two guys doing their spiel.
* I have perhaps gotten too old, but conferences in general are not as important to me as they were when I was first starting out. Back in grad school, I went to as many conferences as I could afford (and some I couldn’t afford) and, because it was all new to me then, I did learn a lot. Of course it also gave me something to put on my CV, and frankly, it’s easier to get a conference presentation on your CV than an article or a chapter or something like that.
I still enjoy seeing folks f2f that I interact with electronically during the rest of the year, and I like traveling. There’s a reason I proposed three different things this year to the conference in San Francisco: I haven’t been there in years. But more and more, the presentations I see at conferences– especially things like the CCCCs or MLA– are sort of the same old “confernence stuff” that I’ve seen for years. It ain’t new anymore, which is why the titles and styles of presentations that come up in the comments to Jenny’s post here are so funny.
I’ve reached a point in time in my academic life where I need to spend my time writing things that have a chance of being published some place– I’ve had plenty of conference presentations. And I’ve reached a point in my personal/finanical life where I can’t afford to wrecklessly put $1000 on my credit card just to add another sentence or two to the CV or just to go drink beer with my email pals.