The Square Circuit

Academia, parenthood, living in a bankrupt city, and what I read in the process.

Monday, March 26, 2007


I just returned from the CCCC convention, the annual gathering of college writing teachers, which was held this year at the Hilton in midtown Manhattan. I've been to five of these conferences and enjoy it more every time. It's so different than the MLA convention, a nightmare largely because its main function is as a job market in a field that is terribly oversaturated. The MLA is half populated by nervous, sweaty grad students in strange suits interviewing for jobs in hotel rooms (I've been there many times, this year as an interviewER for the first time) and half populated by relatively smug elders of the profession. The panels are tedious--PowerPoint is still viewed with suspicion as being too flashy for our profession, and so a panel consists of three people sitting at a table and reading ten-page papers on arcane, obscure topics.

"The C's," on the other hand, is like a tractor pull compared to the MLA. They use PowerPoint! They stand up! They don't read from papers! They're just as badly dressed, but probably because it's not a job fair there's no heavy cloud of anxiety at the C's. There's also more money in textbook publishing than in scholarly publishing, so the big textbook publishers Longman, Prentice Hall, and Bedford St. Martin's sponsor fun get-togethers with free food and booze. I have started to go hear speakers and panels largely on the topic of assessment, which is unbelievably tedious yet crucial for WPA's like myself. I also get to see old friends, and stay in big cities. It's a great deal.


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