Changing the Narrative: Empowering Stories
Minnesota Writing & English partners with the Minnesota Humanities Center (MHC) for our 2022 conference, so this year’s theme spotlights the Humanities. Whether we teach Composition, Literature, or Creative Writing, or we serve students in writing centers or libraries, stories frame student and teacher identities, infuse the texts we explore, and inspire our students' and our own writing.
Recent events—from the pandemic and its economic dislocations, social injustices and responses to them, and disruptions to our sense of America in both domestic and foreign arenas—compel us to reassess our controlling cultural narratives and forge new stories to shape paths forward. How are you and your students and/or colleagues transforming personal, professional, or communal narratives?
MnWE and MHC invite you to propose an individual presentation, 5-6 minutes in length, for a roundtable discussion (assembled by MnWE with others sharing similar topics), or you may create an entire roundtable of 3-5 people and submit a shared proposal. Presentations may address “Changing the Narrative: Empowering Stories” such as the questions below suggest, or any other topic related to Writing or English.
- What makes for an effective storyteller? How do we respond to these communicators, and why? How can we help others develop narrative skills?
- How do dominant cultural narratives about race, gender, or class impact teaching and relationships with students? How do we question and resist cultural narratives that reproduce inequality in the classroom?
- Whose stories get attention in our courses? How do we bring more diverse texts into our classroom conversations? How can we effectively examine these narratives with our increasingly diverse students?
- How do we value stories students bring to the classroom and ensure student voices are heard?
- We teach stories, and narrative often shapes student writing as well as our own. But let’s consider our courses as stories. In what ways are our courses’ narratives animated by compelling plots? Who are the protagonists in these stories, what are their struggles, what do they achieve, and how do they transform themselves?
- How do we help students sift through competing narratives of history or current events? How do we equip them to enter and transform these conversations on meaning, goals, and actions to improve our collective future and move toward a greater understanding of global citizenship?
- With academe’s focus on STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math] courses and career pathways, is our perennial anxiety over the diminished role of the Humanities in education justified or mostly reflexive? How do we convince students that reading and discussing a poem, for example, is worth their time, energy, and tuition dollars, and critical to their future job prospects? How do we convince administrators of the importance of the liberal arts?
- How do we collaborate to understand the complex stories of our learning institutions? What are the conflicts, where are the contradictions, and what are the possibilities and visions for these narratives going forward?
- What stories do we swap with other people who teach English or Writing? How do those stories change as we progress through our careers from fresh initiates of the profession to seasoned veterans? What values do these tales reveal?
Proposals due Sunday, February 7, 2022