Call for Papers

We invite community college teachers of literature and writing to submit paper and panel proposals for the sixth Transitions and Transactions (online) conference, hosted by the English Department at Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY, on April 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.

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 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 and graduate students. Additional topics are welcome.

The deadline for submissions has been extended to 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