Welcome & Call for Proposals


The Eastern Michigan University Written Communication programMichigan State University Center for Research on Writing, Information, and Digital Experience, and Wayne State University Rhetoric and Composition program invite you (faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, teachers, community members, anyone interested) to propose ideas for the fifth (mostly annual), free** WIDE-EMU (un)conference on Saturday, October 15, 2016 in Ypsilanti, Michigan (Twitter hashtag #wideemu). Proposals should engage this year's framing question:

What does writing want?

The framing question--What does writing want?--grew from conversations about wanting writing to transfer, to endure, to last, to carry on, to circulate powerfully, to attract and keep attention, to decay, to fade, to decompose, to evaporate, and more. Throughout these discussions, “sustainability” and “habit” came up again and again as beacon concepts operating across contexts of writing as a personal and professional practice, writing as an explicit focus for instruction, and writing as a way of inquiring, knowing, and learning. We seek for this orienting question--What does writing want?--to generate a range of responses catalyzed around efforts to teach writing, to research writing and writing-related activity, to practice writing, to attempt new or unfamiliar writing projects, and to support and reinforce perspectives on the myriad ways writing operates rhetorically. Wanting hints at desire, as well, and projections of our desires onto writing, granting an agentive boundary to writing as an artifact, an instrument of change, and distinctive means of communicating. What does writing really want, after all? Considered specifically in terms of sustainability and habit, should writing practitioners and teachers aspire to relatively stable, constant ways of doing things (e.g., normative operations, familiar choices, rituals and routines)? Or is there something about sustainability that wants not to be sustained, but disrupted? Is there something about habit that wants to break from patterns and predictability? Further yet, inquiring into what writing wants might constellate and juxtapose existing expressions of wants, wishes, and desires, explore writing as it implicates divergent wantings circulating far, wide, and varied (e.g., What sparks at the juncture between Lyons’ “Rhetorical Sovereignty” and Anson’s “Who Wants Composition?”? Or between Vitanza's "Abandoned to Writing," and Baillif’s “What Is It That the Audience Wants?”? Or upon remixing Christina Aguilera and the Spice Girls as inroads to engaging with the conference’s framing question?). We welcome wide-ranging responses to these and other questions in consideration of what writing wants.

We invite proposals around these and related themes in the form of "Talks," "Dos," and "Makes" between now and August 31, 2016 September 10, 2016.  Then we'll engage in phase two, "respond," where we'll ask proposers and presenters to post something online that expands on their initial proposal. Much like in past years, we encourage proposals to take the form that presenters best feel represents their work.

Finally we'll (un)confer on Saturday, October 15, on the campus of Eastern Michigan University. 

This year's conference includes a double-feature plenary on writing in the context of the Flint Water Crisis.
Dr. James Schirmer, UM-Flint, "Seeking Our Own Level: Writing the Flint Water Crisis"
Dr. Donnie Sackey, Wayne State U, "Research Notes from Flint: Using Writing to Build Networks of Trust"

Phase One: Propose
Now until August 31 September 10

Once again, we are calling for three types of sessions:  Talk, Do, and Make.  For more elaboration on the three session types and to submit your proposal, visit the WIDE-EMU Conference Proposal Form.

Sessions will be 70-minutes and should be planned to allow at least 30 minutes for discussion. In keeping with the loose structure of an unconference, we will schedule open sessions to allow for an emergent program (e.g., those who want to convene spontaneous sessions on October 15).

Curious about how the conference worked in previous years? Visit the WIDE-EMU '12 siteWIDE-EMU '13 site, or WIDE-EMU '15 site.
Phase Two: Respond
September 10 through September 30

Once we get a sense of interest for the different types of sessions, the organizers/instigators (that'd be Thomas Passwater, Brianne Radke, Meg Phelps, Natasha Wickenheiser, and Joe Montgomery) will assemble proposers into Make-Talk-Do sessions.  We will also contact proposers to initiate Phase Two, during which presenters will post something online that expands upon the proposal. What exactly this "something online" looks like is WIDE-EMU open: a blog entry, a slidedeck, a podcast, a video, etc. You could also think of this as a teaser or a preview for your session and a few of its key provocations. Plan to post your "something online" before September 30, 2016.
Phase Three: (Un)confer
Saturday, October 15

The big day, the (un)conference itself, which will be held in on the campus of Eastern Michigan University in Pray-Harrold Hall.

8:40-9:00 a.m. Coffee and Anticipatory Tweeting (#wideemu)
9:00-10:15 a.m. Session A
10:15-10:30 a.m. Break
10:30-11:45 a.m. Session B
11:45 a.m.-12:45 Lunch
1:45-2 p.m. Break 
2-3:15 p.m. Session C
3:15-3:30 p.m. Break
3:30-4:45 Session D
5-8 p.m. #beerrhetorics at Arbor Brewing Company Microbrewery (Corner Brewery), 720 Norris St, Ypsilanti, MI 48198