In April 2011, the 61st annual Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) will take place in Atlanta, Georgia. Fifty rooms will be open from April 6th to the 9th in order to let hundreds of people present their research in front of colleagues and students. However, a gathering this large doesn’t organize itself. The organization elects a program chair to do that; for 2011, Dr. Malea Powell was elected to said position. Organizing is a daunting task to say the least, requiring months of planning, meetings, and hard work. The planning stages started in December of 2009, a year and a half before the conference will actually occur. Daisy Levy, R&W graduate student, began assisting Dr. Powell at the end of last semester and will carry out her role until May 15th, 2011.
The most essential pieces of the CCCC are presentations by faculty in higher education, graduate students, and other members of the scholarly community. Malea issued a call for proposals which presents the context for the choice of theme and what types of work she is interested in featuring at the conference. Proposals are submitted online, as individual or as panels with up to four speakers. Proposals are then sent to reviewers across the country, with names removed for blind reviewing, then ranked by quality. Malea and Daisy do not read the papers personally, but instead go to “Stage Two Review” with NCTE convention manager Eileen Maley, who hands them a printout of the number of submissions in each category. The group then collectively decides how many papers will be accepted into each category based on a percentage to ensure fair representation. After the numbers have been decided on, they read the reviewers’ comments and select the pieces.
Once each of the pieces have been selected, it is up to Malea and Daisy to organize the entire event including who presents in what room and at which time. In order to best delegate which presentation should go in which room, they traveled to Atlanta for a site visit and stayed in the conference hotel. This helped them determine which rooms are bigger, which have hookups for LCD projectors and other technology, and how rooms are located in relation to one another.
After they scouted the venue, Eileen Maley sent a packet of materials including note cards and stickers to help with organizing the schedule. Program chairs have been organizing the conference this way since its inception. The schedule is announced to the presenters, and some email Malea with scheduling conflicts. “There’s not a lot of wiggle room for people. Requests that have something substantial behind them, I generally say yes to,” said Malea. “Otherwise, I tell them that I’m going to try as hard as I can but it’s going to be a couple of months before I know whether that can happen.”
A lot of planning and precision goes in to making this four-day conference happen. Not only have Malea and Daisy organized the conference presenters, but they are also responsible for pre-convention workshops, night-time activities, and post-convention events. The impending deadline constantly looms, but Malea and Daisy are very eager for April to arrive. “It’s just exciting. It’s kind of like Rhet-Comp Prom,” said Daisy. “Everyone gets all gussied up, flies in from all over the country, and shows off and does their little thing. It’s really exciting to feel like you’re such an integral part of putting it together.”
This is part 2 of a series on the CCCC. In March, look for a complete report of WRAC’s presence at the conference.
Visit the CCCC website