Polymorphic Frames of Pre-tenure WPAs: Seven Accounts of Hybridity and Pronoia
Derek Mueller, Kate Pantelides, Laura Davies, Matt Dowell, Alanna Frost, Mike Garcia, Rik Hunter


Grounded in a series of local accounts, this webtext examines complex issues facing pre-tenure writing program administrators as they enter the professoriate while negotiating hybrid identities as teachers, researchers, and administrators. Developed out of a roundtable at the 2014 Conference on College Composition and Communication, the project also emphasizes contemporary alternatives to roundtable design that regard openness, accessibility, and persistence as priorities for delivery and circulation.
"What we need when we discuss leadership styles is not a list of blanket directives about power, authority, and administrative structures, but a series of local narratives and case studies that show us how writing program administrators negotiate viable models of administrative leadership" (Schell, 1998, p. 65).


In her final note to readers as editor of Writing Program Administration, Alice Horning (2014) identified the precarious situations of pre-tenure writing program administrators, or jWPAs, as primary among the challenges facing the field. Horning contended that "junior, untenured colleagues should not be serving in WPA roles, and yet this trend has continued or accelerated over the time we have been your editors" (p. 8). Although we agree generally with Horning's characterization of jWPA hiring as a problem, due to the ethical quandaries and practical challenges of effectively administering while simultaneously satisfying tenure requirements, there is plenty of evidence to underscore that the figure of the jWPA has become increasingly prominent and that the surrounding discussion has extended far beyond the just-don't-do-it narrative. Thus, nuanced consideration of jWPA work must account for not only its perils but also its theoretical, institutional, and intellectual possibilities (Elder, Schoen, & Skinnell, 2014).

Having been hired or appointed as jWPAs and mindful of Eileen Schell's (1998) call for situated accounts, we maintain that "local narratives and case studies" contribute texture and depth of understanding to the complex situations jWPAs presently inhabit (p. 65). Albeit in different ways and across divergent institutional settings, the seven of us have as jWPAs negotiated "viable models of administrative leadership" (Schell, 1998, p. 65). It was with this shared experience in mind that we organized, proposed, and delivered a roundtable at the 2014 Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) in Indianapolis. Our roundtable opened the conversation up to a wider audience regarding specific tensions and questions and asked how what we call "role hybridity" impacted our leadership efforts and administrative thinking. In the following project, the seven of us write and speak as jWPAs whose local narratives contribute to emerging models of administrative leadership whose proven viability is yet emerging. Because we are new in our respective roles, many of our initiatives are in progress and our programs in states of flux: We have made decisions to set up what we hope to be future successes. Yet we contend that tenured WPAs, jWPAs, and graduate students who are interested in WPA work gain much from continued transparency and openness about the challenges jWPAs presently face, and in particular, the challenges associated with the tactical foresight we detail here.

The accounts we share here coalesce theoretically in terms of hybridity, or mixed subjectivities, and pronoia, or tactical foresight. When considering the composite roles of jWPAs, hybridity foregrounds multivalent, blended subjectivities that can at times be generative and at other times shunt balanced scholarly activity (Peeples, 1999). We are never purely, simply, merely jWPAs; indeed, our administrative work cannot be decoupled from myriad personal and professional identifications. Pronoia is a time-oriented rhetorical concept that refers to setting up future kairos. In this sense, pronoia is a counterpart to metanoia, or insight gleaned from awareness of a missed opportunity (Myers, 2011). Pronoia echoes the Quaker maxim, "Proceed as [the] way opens," which Louise Phelps (2012) cited to guide others in navigating bureaucratic obstacles, with a small but significant qualification. Pronoia as tactical foresight equips the jWPA with patience and persistence necessary for way-making. jWPAs usually are not fully empowered administrators in quite the same way as tenured WPAs, but neither must they idle away the years—walled in by for-the-time-being inert institutional conditions.

Building off of Phelps' (2012) "proceed as [the] way opens" philosophy to understand how pronoia functions in the work of WPAs, we draw on Paula Mathieu's (2005) explanation of the difference between strategies and tactics, a distinction she borrowed from Michel de Certeau. Strategies, Mathieu explained, work for stable, rational, and measurable spaces. Tactics, on the other hand, "are available when we do not control the space" (p. 16). jWPAs often find themselves in spaces that they do not control or define, and so must be aware and respond tactically, evaluating situations as they arise. Pronoia, we argue, directs jWPAs to create conditions of possibility, cultivate an advantageous alignment of setups, and project onto the horizon a kairotic (or opportune) moment that follows from the work we do actively to induce these future conditions. As we first worked to enact and facilitate pronoia in our CCCC session, we hope to further enact and facilitate tactical foresight in jWPAs through this webtext.

We consider this project and the CCCC session it extends from to be a distinctive example of roundtable design that lives up to contemporary possibilities for openness, accessibility, and persistence. In Adam Banks's call for proposals, inviting participants to "consider possible futures" and to continue "broader movements toward greater participation," Banks echoed larger disciplinary moves toward interdisciplinarity, openness, hybridity, accessibility, multimodality, and persistence (NCTE, 2013). We took Banks' call to heart—particularly the notion of persistence in the spirit of hybridity and pronoia. Thus, we proposed an innovative roundtable that would persist in the form of slideshows and, ultimately, a co-authored publication, demonstrating the possibilities of tactical foresight. The roundtable was designed as a series of five-minute Ignite presentations, which consist of 20 slides, each set to advance after 15 seconds. We planned to deliver these concise presentations live in Indianapolis, but we also committed to producing versions of the presentations as videos with voiceover that would be posted on Twitter via scheduled tweets on the afternoon of Thursday, March 20, 2014. The tweets included links to YouTube, where each video was produced and uploaded in advance, allowing replay, recirculation, closed caption access, and audience comments. We consider the iterations of this transmedia roundtable—as planned and proposed, as prepared for live presentations at CCCC, as produced for online delivery and circulation, and yet again, now, as webtext—to further highlight the hybridity and pronoia indicated in our title.

Although conference presentations are usually ephemeral, our use of pronoia allowed us to extend the life of the ideas we introduced through our roundtable at the 2014 CCCC. We have designed this piece to offer an alternative to common conference practice, one that takes into account the comprehensive connections our live presentation illuminated, amongst our discrete institutions and colleagues' questions. Adding these layers to our work enriches our argument about the value of hybridity and pronoia to models of jWPA leadership. In what follows, we first present the Ignite videos we each created for our 2014 CCCC presentation—a presentation in which we investigated our positions as jWPAs through the lens of pronoia. A viewer may watch the videos all together, in a single 36-minute playlist, or watch them in a specific, selected series, through one of the four viewpaths we identified after our 2014 CCCC presentation. These four viewpaths—Pronoia and Stakeholders, Hybrid Research Agendas, Pronoia/Pragmatics, and Hybrid Identities—highlight the overarching concepts that we saw connecting our local jWPA stories and contexts. These four viewpaths do not represent all the connections we noticed; rather, we believe considering the Ignite videos through these four lenses speaks most to the concepts of pronoia and hybridity that we argue are central to the work of a jWPA.

After the videos, we turn to an expanded Question and Answer (Q&A) section. In this section, we take turns offering answers to questions our CCCC audience asked us and questions we asked each other after our session. These questions address a variety of issues, from what our different teaching loads were as jWPAs, to how we developed our own Ignite videos, to why we chose in some circumstances to make curricular or administrative changes in our writing programs as jWPAs instead of waiting for the security of tenure. Unlike in an actual conference presentation, we offer in this section multiple insights to questions and reflections on these answers as a whole—to offer sense-making of the discussion portion of a conference presentation. Finally, this section demonstrates how the important intellectual conversations that take place at conferences, which can operate as closed conversations—happening in other rooms or in other hallways—can be opened and made accessible to a larger audience.

Roundtable Playlist (36 minutes)

The presentations the seven of us prepared and delivered at CCCC in Indianapolis are assembled below into a single playlist. Each presentation is approximately five minutes; the complete playlist runs 36 minutes. Although these videos remain unchanged, their evolving frame and context demonstrate how pronoia usefully disrupts the normal life of a conference presentation, highlighting our use of pronoia in the design of the original panel and throwing into conflict traditional notions of chronos in terms of academic genres. These videos initially allowed our 2014 presentation to circulate more broadly and provided an opportunity for our presentations to persist. Now they function as an artifact of our foresight—one that we can examine in this venue with the benefit of hindsight. The path these videos have taken gives us the opportunity to see how our videos overlap and how, taken together, they offer more than local snapshots of the work of jWPAs.


While it is possible to view all seven video presentations in the YouTube playlist embedded directly above, we have also identified smaller clusters, three- and four-video groupings that cohere around hybridity and pronoia in different WPA contexts. These particular viewpaths hone in on the nuanced connections we discovered through our collaboration. Each viewpath—or sub-playlist—may be accessed by clicking the link in the left-hand menu of the frame below, or, alternatively, by clicking on the linked title or linked image accompanying the discussion of each viewpath further down the page.

Viewpath I: Pronoia and Stakeholders (three videos, 15 minutes)

An illustration of the shape of the stakeholders viewpath. The purpose of this image is to resonate with the concept polymorphic frames.The advice of "just don't do it," regularly offered to untenured faculty considering WPA positions, results from concerns about the jWPA's lack of institutional power and/or the unreasonable risks required to generate change. As representative examples of jWPA work, the experiences detailed in this viewpath shed light on how change happens within specific institutional contexts and as a result of pronoiac thinking, or tactical foresight. This viewpath addresses the role institutional stakeholders play in limiting or facilitating jWPA leadership and possibilities to make change. Instead of viewing these power struggles as fixed, closed, or complete, examining stakeholder relationships in terms of pronoia allows potential interventions. Consistently looking for points of leverage and alternative ways to engage with "embedded" decision makers (Gladstein & Regaignon, 2012) down the road can increase a jWPA's institutional influence (Amorose, 2000), regardless of apparent barriers.

Viewpath 2: Hybrid Research Agendas (three videos, 15 minutes)

An illustration of the shape of the viewpath concerned with quantifying WPA work. The purpose of this image is to resonate with the concept polymorphic frames.As Viewpath 1 demonstrates, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that junior faculty should stay out of the WPA fray. In particular, WPA work is often difficult to quantify, sometimes only locally recognizable, and—though long seen as useful and important—it is frequently viewed as not intellectually driven. Further, being the WPA can overshadow other important scholarly roles: researcher, teacher, and colleague. However, recent scholarship (Charlton et al., 2011; Elder, Schoen, & Skinnell, 2014) suggested that the tides are turning—that role hybridity is viewed as essential, and the larger scholarly questions that inform WPA work are increasingly acknowledged and effectively articulated. We consider this role hybridity to be especially well-matched with pronoia's emphasis on setting up hospitable future conditions. Although hybridity can be difficult for jWPAs to negotiate, the orchestration of multiple research commitments can later become the basis of sturdier, stronger professional footing. The narratives in Viewpath 2 exemplify WPA role hybridity through discussion of artifacts that constitute intellectual work in the academy: research agendas.

Viewpath 3: Pronoia/Pragmatics (three videos, 15 minutes)

An illustration of the shape of the pronoia and pragmatics viewpath. The purpose of this image is to resonate with the concept polymorphic frames.Historically, relief sculptures have modeled pronoia as an icon operating figuratively and at a broad, even cosmological, scale. One such depiction displays a gender-neutral, youthful, winged figure whose forward-looking gaze accents the figure's skillful responsiveness to imminent kairotic opportunities (see Cook, 1925/2010, p. 863, for a photograph of this portrayal). However, we have followed Myers' (2011) lead in reimagining pronoia at the scale of the everyday and as a concept suited to pragmatic application. That is, drawing on Myers, pronoia operates as tactical foresight that emerges from experience and reflection. How might jWPAs employ pronoia, in this sense of the term? In this viewpath, we examine how jWPAs look for openings in tradition, points of leverage, and handles as practical tactics to gain further access within our programs and institutions.

Viewpath 4: Hybrid Identities (four videos, 21 minutes)

An illustration of the shape of the identity viewpath. The purpose of this image is to resonate with the concept polymorphic frames.One way to explain a WPA's identity is that it is a "dual identity," existing at the crossroads between faculty and administration (Towsend, Young, & Phelps, 2008, p. 262). Though Phelps (2014) argued for a both/and duality, some jWPAs feel caught in a neither/nor no-man's land. Successfully navigating a dual identity requires understanding local institutional context and traditions, which can be difficult to do in the newcomer or outsider identities jWPAs often occupy. That is, as relates to pronoia, dual identity acknowledges dual time, the now-and-then that provides a jWPA with a means of shifting ahead, setting up more felicitous conditions for change, in spite of a difficult or unaccommodating present moment. This viewpath offers different approaches to navigating status and the myriad opportunities that arise for faculty–administrators.

Roundtable Q&A

The short-form talks allowed the seven of us to deliver our presentations in approximately 40–45 minutes, which left a full 30 minutes for discussion and Q&A. Because we consider these interactions valuable to the session, we have posed them here and taken turns among the seven of us responding in such a way that conveys our varied jWPA situations.

Q1: What was your pathway to becoming a WPA?

:: I remember reading Ed White's 1991 article, "Use It or Lose It: Power and the WPA," in a graduate seminar and the ensuing conversation we had about the opportunities and challenges inherent in WPA work. That conversation really set the spark for my interest in WPA work, both the practical and the scholarly side of administration. I was fortunate to be in a graduate program that valued the intellectual work of administration and gave administrative opportunities to graduate students. When I went on the job market, I looked specifically for jWPA positions. – Laura Davies

:: My pathway started as an undergraduate writing tutor and continued through my work as an assistant director of composition in graduate school. This graduate work taught me the importance of advocating for particular conceptions of literacy and, in doing so, pushing against those not beneficial to students and their learning. I also found the communal aspect of the work to be rewarding. As I've always been interested in how to engage local communities and enact change within these communities, I came to see WPA work as a means through which to concretely do such work. – Matt Dowell

:: Like Matt, I was an undergraduate writing tutor, which immediately interested me in composition theory and practice. After college, I took a position as a secondary school writing center director and teacher. As part of my work, I brought high school students to the CCCC conference and dipped my toe in the scholarly waters. Once I decided to pursue graduate school, I took every opportunity to further explore writing program administration. When I was on the job market, I specifically applied for positions that included an administrative component because I see my administrative work as inseparable from my scholarship. – Kate Pantelides

:: I really am a reluctant WPA. I was an assistant director of composition and the writing center as a graduate student; I enjoyed both positions but did not think of it as a career path. I applied for my first position for geographic reasons, almost solely. It was a writing center administration job, but, as I explain, after one year as the director, the provost eliminated the position by moving all satellite tutoring programs to the Student Success Center. Thus, I was asked to take on the WPA position. – Alanna Frost

Q2: Is this presentation part of your scholarship?

:: Yes. As much as possible, I try to make my work as a jWPA "countable." This includes turning conference presentations into publications, creating semester reports to share accomplishments with anyone who will listen or read, and making program documents as accessible as possible—on the program website, in PDF form, and so forth. – Kate Pantelides

::I agree with Kate. I think it is one of the best and most efficient uses of a jWPA's time. Like the other components of the work, at least in my case, I still have had to be savvy in the ways I contextualize and situate that work for my colleagues in meetings and in documentation, such as my reappointment file. At my institution, the WPA position is considered service, and thus the writing that I do is inevitably associated with that service. – Alanna Frost

Q3: What is your WPA load? What is your release?

:: My contractual teaching load is 3:3. As director of the first-year writing program at Eastern Michigan University, I carry a 1:2 load, so it is a 50% reassignment to administrative responsibilities. If the released time was anything less, I would have found the decision to direct the program much more difficult. But the 50% release allows me to continue teaching and to continue working on research and scholarship (albeit at a slower pace), both of which I consider high professional priorities. EMU is also outstanding about tenure and promotion clarity, which made the prospects of serving as a jWPA more tenable. – Derek Mueller

:: I have a course reassignment for administration, which makes my load 3/3. I'm not quite a full WPA, though: I work mostly on curriculum design, assessment, and faculty development with less involvement in personnel and scheduling. Even in this more limited role, it's a stretch, and I've argued frequently (with some success) for additional release time for scholarship. It seems clear to me that jWPAs need considerable accommodation if their institution expects them to put sufficient time and energy toward earning tenure. – Mike Garcia

:: I have the same contractual load as Derek. With the course releases, I teach a 2:2 load. I am on a 9-month contract, though, so I do wrestle with the issue of summer labor which is impossible to avoid. I am responsible for the schedule and for training new graduate teaching assistants as well as offering the fall composition workshop. All of this has to be planned in July and August. – Alanna Frost

Q4: Why don't you just "mind the store" for six years and then make changes once you are tenured?

:: This question suggests that it is possible for a WPA to "just mind the store." I can't imagine what that might look like. WPA work is inherently engaged, active, and political. No one will ever be happy with every decision made, and because writing program work extends outside of departments, there are many more people to weigh in on decisions and be pleased or not pleased with results. So, if one were to mind the store, would that simply mean agreeing with the most powerful person in the room? That might make others unhappy. Would it mean not doing the work of assessment, curriculum development, and professional development? This would make a WPA's life harder and the criticisms more pronounced. Such a question assumes that it is possible for WPAs to fly under the radar, and I haven't read about, met a WPA, or been in an institution for which this is the case. – Kate Pantelides

:: Being a WPA places you in an immediately visible position in your department and your college and/or university. Decisions need to be made, and you are the person hired to make them. In my first semester as a jWPA, I was asked to reinvent the first-year writing curriculum. I suggested doing it slowly, trying out a new curriculum with a few pilot sections. My chair said no—the course was in dire need of disciplinary-inspired innovation, and the department hired me to change it now. Part of this need to act immediately was due to institutional culture, but another part is due to the fact that as a WPA, I was responsible for a whole program's worth of students and all the instructors teaching in that program. I had disciplinary knowledge and experience, and I needed to use it now, not in six years. This responsibility isn't often shared by other junior faculty without an administrative role, so the old adage to "bide our time" doesn't work for WPAs, either practically or ethically. – Laura Davies

:: My response ties into the pronoia/kairos theme of our panel. I work for change because this appears to be the moment for it. When I was hired, I actually planned to keep a lower profile, making small changes such as aligning our outcomes with WPA outcomes, streamlining paperwork and processes, and so on. But extraordinary circumstances—in our case, the consolidation of our university with another one across town—opened up such an opportunity for change that I'd have been foolish to let it pass by. I feel that the risk of putting myself out there is outweighed by the scope of change I can effect (and the visibility I gain by doing so). – Mike Garcia

:: I wholeheartedly agree with my peers. Minding the store is an impossibility. As Kate and Laura mention, there are exigencies for which non-action would be personally and professionally irresponsible. For example, at the time of my hire the textbook used by all contingent faculty had been the textbook of choice for 20 years; the handbook was unwieldy and expensive. I was asked by the department to make textbook changes. Using my knowledge of composition was difficult because we formed a textbook committee and senior faculty, who would vote on my tenure, were on it, but I had to engage in the process, and I had to do so using my knowledge of writing pedagogy. – Alanna Frost

Q5: We're creating a new WPA position. How should we design this position?

::What this process looks like and what concerns need to be addressed in defining a position seem to be heavily dependent on the local conditions. Is this a new position for a new program or is this a replacement hire in an existing program? If there was a former WPA, I think it's important to consider whether or not that person had a background in writing studies because I'm assuming that if the committee is searching for candidates with a PhD in writing studies, rhetoric and composition, or the like, they understand that there are disciplinary reasons why such an emphasis makes sense.

Based on my experience, the worst thing you can say to a new hire is, "We need you to tell us what this position needs to be." Yes. There surely needs to be space for the WPA to put his or her stamp on the program, but it could be disastrous for both the committee and institution as well as the new hire if clarity and specificity regarding expectations are lacking.

Part of this process, in my mind, has to involve looking at job ads at institutions that have a history of this position and with writing studies faculty. That is, how long has the program existed, and how long have people with the credentials you are asking for held that position? And are there other people with similar credentials writing the ad? There's a big difference between an ad written solely by non-writing people versus one written by those within the discipline.

I could even see value in possibly taking advantage of the WPA consultant–evaluator service. Perhaps you have an existing program that you are hiring someone new to run. I could see those recommendations assisting search committees in defining the role. If there isn't an existing program, maybe asking a WPA at a peer institution or a nearby college or university would help define the role in more concrete ways. – Rik Hunter

:: Rik's advice is on target, especially that regarding what I would call the organic job description. The job description should be revisable so that it can respond to both the candidate's strengths and the local context. That said, a starting point job description is vital so that a written understanding of the jWPA's position can circulate through institutional changes. This job description should be vetted to examine if the requirements and the jWPA's institutional placement make sense both within the local context and alongside the work that will be expected of the new hire. – Matt Dowell

Post-session discussion

Q6: How did you put your presentation together? What did you produce first? The text, the slides?

:: I have prepared and delivered Ignite presentations before, and in classes I teach that involve a presentational component, I like to incorporate short-form presentations like these. But this one was different because I knew it had to be delivered live at CCCC, and the live version's timing required tight scripting. In other words, instead of riffing on the slides extemporaneously, I drafted the script, recorded it in GarageBand, and marked off 15-second intervals before beginning to think about making and matching up corresponding slides. I further revised, too, and retraced these steps a couple of times until I was satisfied with the sequence. – Derek Mueller

:: I do things a little differently than Derek. I've done PechaKucha presentations with my students. Those are six minutes and forty seconds long, with each slide lasting 20 seconds (e.g., 20 slides x 20 seconds). What's interesting about the history of PechaKucha is that it was developed to reign in wordy architects. Many of these presentations seem improvised on the spot. It makes sense if an artist or architect is talking about his or her work, and the more relaxed context of a PechaKucha performance differs, too.

However, I've watched and listened to a lot of these presentations, and some folks are more improvised than others (e.g., a designer who couldn't stop giggling). Those that are less improvised can communicate a lot more important information, and this is really important in my students' presentations and in what we did for CCCC. I know. I went off my script just a little bit and was behind the rest of the time. That said, first, I just write. I script everything I want to say first. Then I time it and cut out points that aren't as important. Then, as one of my creative writing professors put it, condense, condense, condense for power. Of course, it's really a more recursive process; I'm thinking about visuals the whole time. – Rik Hunter

Q7: How did you gain a sense of timing? How did this feel different than previous presentations?

:: I certainly practiced it more! I crafted the slides first, and then figured out the narration afterwards. Then, I sat with a timer and went through the slides, noting when I had too much empty space or not enough time. So, for me, the process was really one of continuous revision: deleting slides, adding text, inserting new slides, and so on. I was really nervous when I delivered it at CCCC, because I was worried my on-stage adrenaline rush would throw off the timing. I did feel, though, that this presentation was more of a polished performance than any other conference presentation I did because I worked so much on the delivery. – Laura Davies

:: My process was closer to Derek's. I figured out how many words I could read in 15 seconds, multiplied that by 20, wrote a script of that length, divided it back up into 20 roughly even blurbs, and then made a slide for each. I recorded my talk for the YouTube video, and afterward, I went back through and marked the exact timing for my slide switches. Then I adjusted my slidedeck to fit that timing (this was the most time-consuming part). Finally, I let the slides autoplay several times while I practiced over them, which made me confident in my timing. It was by far the most meticulously scripted talk I've done for CCCC; usually my script is more like an outline. It worked so well—for all of us, I think—that I'm planning to use it again in the future. – Mike Garcia

:: I found it easiest to start with scripting 20-second snippets. But then I found that some information for some slides didn't last 20 seconds. In a way, this was a positive outcome because I wanted to say more for some slides. This can make for a more cinematic editing technique of your voice-over overlapping a slide (i.e., scene) transition. – Rik Hunter

:: Line-level revision was the real key. As I tend not to read written papers at conferences, I've grown accustomed to giving presentations that more closely responsible workshop talks. I have the freedom to ad lib as I see fit, and I often spontaneously add or remove material based on various, real-time factors. With this presentation, I had to not only commit to a set structure and script, but also edit, edit, and edit some more to make the ideas work within the 20-second windows. I figured out the timing issue by editing ideas down to 20-second chunks and using transitions to link the sections. Much of the editing focused on word deletion and idea simplification. It was a useful exercise to go through, but also very time consuming. I did, after making the video and then reading my talk at the conference, feel I had delivered a product with more take away for the audience. – Matt Dowell

Q8: There are many overlaps across the presentations: humor, isolation, "them" not understanding "us," the work of WPAs. How much of this was deliberate? Accidental?

:: I consider many of the overlaps to be felicitous accidents. Maybe it wasn't serendipity in the purest sense because we collaborated on the proposal and circulated drafts to one another at different stages. So I suppose the overlaps are a combination of deliberate acts and accidents, yet they also suggest commonalities among our experiences as jWPAs. – Derek Mueller

:: Honestly, I think people in our field are the most reflective and self-deprecating folks I know, and I think the humor comes from being so attentive to our interactions with students and colleagues. It's a big part of what we do. – Rik Hunter

:: Although WPA identities vary greatly, humor is a requirement to do the job well. I included humor in my presentation to make up for the ad-libbed comments I wouldn't be able to include due to the structured timing and because I wasn't sure how engaging the Ignite format would be (that turned out to be a needless concern). The Stormtrooper motif was entirely accidental, although I think the symbolism is appropriate for jWPA work. – Matt Dowell

Q9: How is your work on this roundtable bounded or not to your other research?

:: If we are talking about this project as part of our research agenda, and if we are talking about it in a physical product sense, then it is only bound by the need to choose provisional ends at which time we publish the work and methods through which to do this publishing. The exciting nature of this work is that described in the introduction: this is the second time the project has been shared publicly, and this second sharing is informed by the conversations the Ignite presentations generated at CCCC. These physical bounds are important in that they function as the mechanism through which the videos circulate to a larger audience. – Matt Dowell


Pre-tenure writing program administrators enter the professoriate facing a compound challenge: On one hand, they must articulate stories about their programs, students, and the writing that is occurring. On the other hand, they must enact research and teaching agendas, grasp a program's local history and nuances, and make strategic interventions into program and institutional culture, among other responsibilities. This series of presentations, reframed as it is in this context, concurs with recent scholarship attending to the positive value of "stories about students and writing" in contemporary public and institutional policy formation (Adler-Kassner, 2008, p. 2). In heeding Schell's (1998) invitation to address the hybrid professional and disciplinary identities of our work, we have demonstrated how pronoia usefully operates in the experiences of seven jWPAs.

Our CCCC presentation allowed us to discover connections among our various hybrid identities and to fortify the coalition building (i.e., frame-sharing) that sustains WPAs of all ranks whose oftentimes isolated, localized work is enriched by tending to what is both shared and distinctive in our experience. More broadly, the roundtable impressed upon us the growing importance of changing up conference presentation conventions. That is, we drew on pronoia in order to honor the CCCC 2014 call for proposals, maintaining openness and accessibility as a priority in our designing, preparing, and delivering the roundtable; thus, the discovery of connections was distributed far more broadly than in many sessions we have been a part of before. Although the transmedia roundtable offers a modest intervention into contemporary conference presentation paradigms, we believe the circulatory, outward-branching effect of recording presentations (with transcription appended), uploading presentations for online viewing and re-viewing, scheduling tweets that link to the bundled presentations and include the conference hashtag, and documenting the Q&A with polyvocal responses together constitutes a comparably more durable, sustainable moment than is customary in the field's prevalent conferencing practices.

Finally, in addition to documenting the arc of our roundtable's design and development, we believe this project to be important for the way it merges the twin considerations noted above. In one light, this work attempts to enact and live up to Schell's (1998) invitation to articulate as cases the ways the seven of us have "negotiate[d] viable models of administrative leadership" (p. 65). In another, the project showcases timely questions about jWPAs while also attesting to the ways unconventional roundtables have the potential to endure, reach greater circulation, and reflect new media's contemporary affordances as they support reimagining the delivery and circulation of conference presentations. We consider this work's lasting value in light of its dual demonstration of pronoia, both in the content our presentations address and in the form they have taken.


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