Review: The 2001 Conference on College Composition and Communication

March 14-17, 2001, Denver, Colorado

– Reviewed by Will Hochman, Jonathan Alexander, Christine Hult, and Ilene Crawford, April 15, 2001
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4Cs 2001 begins with teachers finding their ways through airports and interstates to the mile high city. The city's altitude is an energy attacker for those less likely to thin their blood with extra water, but this is not really a conference about place. Yes, we should enjoy heading off to the seemingly tourist-worthy places that we also have intellectual reasons to go to, and yes, the savvy among us often link conference going to family visits and vacations, but this conference is really about teachers returning to their roots and going back to school. Whether we consider sessions our classes or simply like to reconnect with teachers and ideas, the 4Cs is a learning space that transcends geography. The College Conference on Composition and Communication is our annual return to a school.

Each year the hotels and their staff become parents telling us where we sleep and they even make our beds and cook our food. Each year we begin our conference days much like school children, ready to learn how to negotiate new learning spaces in our new clothes. But of course this childish analogy breaks down when we consider how many of us "present." In elementary school, we learned to use the word to confirm attendance and now many of us also use it to justify our attendance at the conference. Our egos and our cv's overflow with evidence that our ideas are worthy and we are generous givers of those ideas. Not so many years ago, we foolishly decorated presenters and poobahs with ribbons. Instead of decorating those of us already heady with ideas to present, it might be worthwhile to consider the voices and ideas of those not heard. Do those elitist ribbons still exist in the form of the conference index? Perhaps those among us presenting, chairing, attending SIGs, and offering workshops need to stop and not only thank our audiences, but also know that there were some left out who were worthy?

Have we come to a point in the evolution of the conference when many good folks are not present because they aren't presenting? Institutional funding is often predicated on some sort of professional participation at conferences and that's a problem. First of all, we need to equally respect those who simply attend to learn. There's an obvious value to encouraging teachers to simply be students for a few days but more often than not we value the intellectual acts of speaking rather listening. I don't think the conference will solve this age old discourse inequity, but it may be time to become more inclusive. We need to consider a more inclusive one person-one role rule. Instead of allowing multiple roles in this conference, we might consider what could happen if we respect each role more. What if chairing involved responding and could be counted as a "speaking" role (as it is at the MLA)? What if presenting in workshops and SIGs counts as equal to presenting a paper in a session? Aren't many of these forums merely duplicating session formats anyway? A quick count in the index of the conference guide indicates that there would be 383 additional slots if multiple appearances were not permitted. Sure it's nice to hear some of our best minds in more than one presentation, but I would suggest that is already possible when "stars" attend sessions and participate in Q&A. Think about it--a simple policy change could give 383 additional people conference roles.

If there's an easy "C-riff" on the better qualities of compositionists, it's that we know to be collaborative and we believe we can avoid some of the elitism and hierarchical routines typical of higher education by working with consensus. As we (Jonathan Alexander, Ilene Crawford, Christine Hult, and Will Hochman) write this year's conference review, readers will note the increased number of conference critics and the ways we have tried to make our criticism a way to review and re-vision the conference experience from multiple points of view. The review team brings together field veterans, newbies, and writing teachers simply able to practice what they preach. Along with a call for more inclusiveness in the conference, this review includes more reviewers in hopes that even more of our readers will write reviews for upcoming conferences. Please contact Will Hochman or Jonathan Alexander if you would like to join our reviewing teams. [WH]

Thematic Review: Historicizing Feminist Teaching, Writing, Administration, and Activism

Individual Session Reviews:

Miscellany: Christine Hult's Notes on the Conference

For more information on the conference, visit the CCCC 2001 Web site at http://www.ncte.org/convention/cccc2001/.

Publication Information: Hochman, William, Jonathan Alexander, Christine Hult, and Ilene Crawford. (2001). [Review of the 2001 Conference on College Composition and Communication]. Academic.Writing. http://wac.colostate.edu/aw/reviews/cccc2001/
Publication Date: May 15, 2001


Contact Information:
Will Hochman's Email: hochman@southernct.edu

Copyright © 2001 William Hochman, Jonathan Alexander, Christine Hult, and Ilene Crawford. Used with permission.