Starting in 2012, the Gail E. Hawisher & Cynthia L. Selfe Caring for the Future Scholarship (HSCF) has sponsored at least one first-time presenter at the Computers and Writing conference each year. This award recognizes scholars who come from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds. In June 2017, five former recipients of the Caring for the Future award—Janine Butler, Joe Cirio, Joy Robinson, Victor Del Hierro, and Laura Gonzales—came together to present at a Town Hall session at the Computers and Writing conference hosted by the University of Findlay in Findlay, Ohio, to acknowledge the ways that the field of computers and writing has supported and can continue to support diverse approaches and contributions to scholarship in the field. Award coordinators Kristin Arola and Cheryl Ball respectively offered introductions and facilitated questions, and we asked Angela Haas to serve as the respondent.
With the goal of encouraging further representation and inclusion of minoritized scholars in computers and writing scholarship in our Town Hall session, we shared our diverse stories and experiences while drawing attention to potential strategies and initiatives that could improve diversity in our field for current and future scholars. Although we presented in person to Computers and Writing conference attendees on the night of June 2, we want to share our ideas with rhetoric, composition, and new media studies writ large. For this reason, this webtext provides recordings of our presentations, each captioned with transcripts. Specifically, this webtext includes six digital videos: one video for each award recipient who presented, as well as the response.
Janine shared stories about mentors and family trees; Joe reflected on seeing—and not seeing—himself represented in academic rooms and popular media; Joy remarked on hypervisibility and the unspoken duties required from faculty of color; Victor discussed Computers and Writing as a welcoming space for underrepresented scholars and gave props to the women who have helped to make that happen (and, in the question period, called on the men of C&W to share the service load in our field); Laura delivered a poem she composed for other women of color who navigate the challenges of academia and everyday life; and Angela responded with cumulative remarks and speculative openings for making future positive change in our community and discipline.
Given that efforts of equity, diversity, and inclusion are ongoing, we hope to create a reflective space that helps push current efforts toward a more socially just and inclusive future for our Computers and Writing community. Drawing from our embodied experiences, we express a "loving critique forward" (Paris & Alim, 2014) that aims to shape our community as well as ask what we are interested in sustaining. Toward these ends, we invite you to engage with our stories, questions, and recommendations. We encourage you to join us in examining the efforts that the Computers and Writing community has taken—and can continue to make—toward sustaining and growing our membership, mentoring, and other support of graduate students and emerging scholars from underrepresented backgrounds.
Ultimately, we ask: How can the Computers and Writing community further support and capitalize on the potential of learning through diverse perspectives? How can the broader disciplines of rhetoric, composition, and technical communication learn from Computers and Writing diversity and social justice initiatives—and vice versa? And how might you be an agent for continued positive change in our community and discipline(s)?
Although they do not appear here, we thank Kristin Arola and Cheryl Ball for introducing and facilitating our session. In addition, we thank those who participate(d) in our supportive space. Our deepest gratitude goes to John Pecak of Full Circle Creative Media for video recording our panel.
We would also like acknowledge Anna Knutson, a 2016 award winner, who was unable to join us in Findlay. Finally, congratulations to the 2017 HSCF award winner Candace Chambers.
Victor Del Hierro
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