We discussed a number of ideas for next year's roundtable, but I think
the one we settled on was "What Works in Teaching Writing at a
Distance." We agreed that it was pretty easy to say what doesn't work,
and to gripe about ill-advised trendy schemes at are a loony a dozen,
but the fact remains that with the right resources and the chutzpah to
insist on careful development, distance writing courses can work. It
would be useful to hear positive stories that end with a generalizable
point that others can learn from. We also thought that this would be a
good topic to interest the Americans who come to such gatherings, as
opposed to stories of how we do things back in Canada.
Does anyone else want to add detail to these recollections?
I got myself down on record as having volunteered to help with next
year's session, but actually, I thought I was volunteering for _this_
year's session. I had forgotten the mind-numbing advance-ness of CCCC's
proposal cycle, which dictates that we should be working on next year
before we've even done this year. I likely won't be in Minneapolis next
year. (No, all you cynics out there, it's not because I only go to
CCCC's when it's far enough south to make me forget I live in Calgary.
Not _just_ because, anyway.) But I will throw as many two cents' worth
in as much as I can while we are developing this.
The rest of the CC went quite well. Henry set the scene by locating the
Canadian comp scene in the romantic belles-lettres tradition, followed
by an eloquent defense of first-year comp. Brock and Jean discussed
what was happening at Memorial and Toronto respectively. The session
ending up being something of a lament for the fate of Canadian
composition at the hands of English Lit people--you know how maudlin
Canadians are apt to get on the subject. We agreed that there was no
theoretical reason why lit and comp should not be able to get along, but
noted that happy unions between the two were lamentably rare.
The dinners were, of course, the high point of the conference. A number
of us have found our way into academic administration (a fact that
Anthony mistakenly attributed to the "greying" of certain members of the
group, rather than its true cause, a recognition by our respective
institutions of our real genius and indispensability.) The conversation
kept turning to money, why there isn't more of it, how we make obscene
compromises to try to make the best of it, whether Mike Harris or Ralph
Klein would survive longer at the bottom of Hudson's Bay (a debate that
can only be settled by actual primary research) etc. At last Andrea
Wilson asked, rather sadly I thought, something to the effect of "Just
how long _do_ you get to enjoy teaching before you have to start
worrying about budget all the time?" The sobering effect took almost a
minute to wear off, but it did start an interesting conversation, to
which Anthony was a principal contributor, about why exactly we seem to
have started worrying about budgets almost to the exclusion of
everything else rather than as a means to an end. We didn't manage to
answer the question very satisfactorily but we filed it as another
possible CC topic.
We missed you, and Graham, and all others laid low by disease, scarce
travel budgets (that b-word again) and other things. The food was
excellent and the company beyond parallel.
Janice Freeman wrote:
> I've gotten a bit behind in my e-mail due to end-of-term maddness, so I
> may have missed some messages on this subject. I'd like to know from
> those of you who attended the Canadian Caucus in Atlanta what was
> decided as a focus for next year's Canadian Roundtable. Graham Smart has
> once again volunteered to help me with the selection and editing of
> submissions. We'll get started on it as soon as we get some direction.
> BTW, I wouldn't mind some news about how things went-- Graham tells me
> he was sick and couldn't attend and no one from here went. So how was
> the Caucus? the dinner? the roundtable? I promise to catch up on my
> e-mail this week, so I'll soon know what people on this list have been
> talking about.
> Janice Freeman
> Centre for Academic Writing
> University of Winnipeg
Co-ordinator, Undergraduate Program in Communications Studies
Associate Dean, Academic Programs and Faculty Affairs
Faculty of General Studies, University of Calgary
Fax: (403) 282-6716