2021 Call for Proposals

Interdependence in the Online Writing Center

October 4-8, 2021 

The Online Writing Centers Association (OWCA) invites proposals for its first annual virtual conference. This conference will take place asynchronously and synchronously around the theme of interdependence in the online writing center.

Deadlines and Conference Timeline

  • Proposals due: May 22, 2021 (extended)
  • Accepted presenters notified: June 21, 2021
  • Presentation materials due: September 20, 2021
  • Asynchronous sessions posted: October 4, 2021
  • Synchronous sessions: October 4-8

Call for Proposals

Interdependence is a concept borrowed from disability studies that considers how the agency of individuals relies on others and environments (Bostad, 2016, p. 375). Traditional writing center narratives have privileged “individualistic” or “independent” notions of success. For example, past scholars have argued that writers should eventually learn to write on their own without relying on the writing center (Lichtenstein, 1983, p. 31; Pemberton, 1994, p. 64), that writers solely “own” their work (Lassner, 1984, p. 27), and that writing centers exist alone within the institution (Summerfield, 1988, p. 9). The rise of COVID-19 as a social problem provides a particularly powerful example of how these narratives fail to describe how writing happens and what a center’s most important contributions are. The pandemic’s disruption of daily life forced every writing center to reconsider how they could connect with practitioners, writers, and other campus programs, demonstrating how every communicative act is social and interconnected. Tending to interdependence in online writing center work can reveal how centers do not so much fix writers as orient them toward writing as a social act in a situation already in motion.

G. Roets (2020) describes “interdependence as the basis to all human interaction and as a universal feature of the human subject.” Why and how we communicate with each other is ultimately shaped by our dependence on each other and the material elements of our world. Some recent writing center scholarship has prompted center practitioners to rethink writing center labor and writer agency through this lens (Appleton Pine & Moroski-Rigney, 2020; Dembsey, 2020). Interdependence can help centers recognize their role in helping writers become members of communities: learning to perceive important components of a writing situation, work with others, and interpret feedback. While the goal of interdependence is to help individuals have more “control over making decisions that directly affect one’s life” (Cladwell, 2014, p. 489), it pursues this freedom through the recognition of distributed agency. That is to say, an interdependence lens recognizes writing agency as distributed throughout the various people and material things (of varying capabilities) imbricated in a writing act. This disrupts more individualized conceptions of agency, which understand writers as solitary actors in isolated contexts.

Questions to Consider

We invite proposals that consider how we can use interdependence to rethink the meaning of writing center work and the ways in which administrators, tutors, and writers can virtually connect. Proposals for this theme may consider, but are not limited to, some of the following questions:

  • How can the concept of interdependence help us rewrite narratives about online writing center work?
  • How can tending to interdependence help us attune to the ways in which various human and nonhuman elements mediate social interactions in and around online writing center labor?
  • How has COVID-19 challenged traditional notions of independence and dependence? 
  • What new online writing programs or services have you developed? How do these programs or services embrace interdependence?
  • How have you fostered virtual connections with other colleagues, departments, institutions, or communities?
  • What online practices, policies, and pedagogies can support interdependence?
  • How can we rethink our policies, practices, and attitudes towards those we serve virtually?
  • How can online writing support be more accessible and inclusive?
  • What are effective practices for encouraging listening, wellness, and emotion in an online context?
  • How can we train and assess staff for interdependence in online writing support?


Appleton Pine, A., & Moroski-Rigney, K. (2020). “What about access?” Writing an accessibility statement for your writing center. The Peer Review, 4(2).

Bostad, H. (2016). Freedom and disability Rights: Dependence, independence, and interdependence: Freedom and disability rights. Metaphilosophy, 47(3), 371–384.

Caldwell, K. (2014). Dyadic interviewing: a technique valuing interdependence in interviews with individuals with intellectual disabilities. Qualitative Research, 14(4), 488–507.

Dembsey, J. M. (2020). Naming ableism in the writing center. Praxis, 18(1).

Lassner, P. (1984). Conferencing: The psychodynamics of teaching contraries. The Writing Center Journal, 4(2), 22-30.

Lichtenstein, G. (1983). Ethics of peer tutoring in writing. The Writing Center Journal, 4(1), 29-34.

Pemberton, M. A.  (1994). Dependency in the writing center: Psychological profiles and tutorial strategies. Research and Teaching in Developmental Education, 10(2), 63-70.

Roets, G., Dermaut, V., Benoot, T., Claes, C., Schiettecat, T., Roose, R., & Vandevelde, S. (2020). A Critical Analysis of Disability Policy and Practice in Flanders: Toward Differentiated Manifestations of Interdependency. Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities.

Summerfield, J. (1988). Writing centers: A long view. The Writing Center Journal, 8(2), 3-9.

Session Formats

The OWCA accepts proposals for the following session formats:

Asynchronous Formats

Asynchronous presenters will pre-record a presentation that will be available to attendees throughout the conference and for up to 6 months past the conference date. After 6 months, presenters can choose for their recording to be deleted from the OWCA website or to be moved to our public scholarship archive.

  1. Individual Presentation (20 minutes or less): A pre-recorded presentation on a specific topic, with options for asynchronous and/or synchronous Q&A at the end of the conference for questions and discussion.

Synchronous Formats

Synchronous presenters will be scheduled for a specific time slot and will present in real-time with attendees through Zoom. Synchronous sessions will be recorded and made available to attendees during the conference and for up to 6 months past the conference date. After 6 months, presenters can choose for their recording to be deleted from the OWCA website or to be moved to our public scholarship archive.

  1. Panel Presentation (60 minutes): Two or more presenters discussing a shared theme with time for questions and discussion.
  2. Workshop (60 minutes): An interactive session that briefly introduces a topic and invites audience members to participate in activities that help them apply concepts or develop new materials.
  3. Roundtable (60 minutes): A large group discussion that is framed and facilitated by the presenter(s).
  4. Special Interest Group (SIG) (60 minutes): A networking opportunity for conference attendees to discuss a common interest.


The OWCA is committed to centering disability and accessibility. We are all interdependent in this effort. 

As such, the OWCA will require all presenters to provide the following before the conference:

  • Written transcripts. Presenters must create a written transcript for all planned presentation portions of their session and provide this file as a Microsoft Word document to the OWCA. Transcripts will be available to attendees and will be used to create edited closed captions in the recordings.
  • Slide decks. Presenters who are using slide decks must provide the slides as a PowerPoint (PPT) file to the OWCA. This file will be available to attendees.
  • Handouts. Presenters who plan to distribute handouts (such as for workshop activities) must provide these files as Microsoft Word documents to the OWCA.
  • Session recording and closed captions (asynchronous presentations only). Presenters who propose an asynchronous presentation will record thir presentation and upload it to YouTube. We recommend setting your video privacy setting to “unlisted” and turning off comments and ratings. Presenters will also edit the closed captions on their video for accuracy. Presenters will send the link to their YouTube video to the OWCA. For assistance, please use these resources on How to make a YouTube video unlisted and How to add closed captions in YouTube.

All planned presentation materials will be due 2 weeks before the conference begins (on September 20, 2021). The OWCA reserves the right to edit presentation materials for digital accessibility.

The OWCA will also provide the following:

  • Training materials, guides, and support to help presenters develop accessible presentation materials. Please visit our Accessibility Resources page.
  • American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters in all synchronous sessions. The OWCA works with Morr Interpreting for ASL interpretation.
  • Recordings of all synchronous sessions and their ASL interpretation
  • Edited closed captions for all asynchronous and synchronous video recordings

If you plan to present or attend and we have not appropriately planned for your accessibility needs, please email the OWCA Accessibility Committee at access@onlinewritingcenters.org.

Register for the Conference

To attend the OWCA conference, you must be a student, professional, or institutional member of the OWCA. Membership dues include conference registration and access to recordings of all conference sessions, up to 6 months past the conference.

If you joined the OWCA between October 2020 and February 2021, you can upgrade your membership through My Account to receive conference access.

If you are not currently an OWCA member, please join the OWCA to attend our conference.

Submit a Proposal

Conference proposals were due on May 22, 2021.

You are welcome to submit more than 1 proposal. You do not need to be an OWCA member to submit a proposal. However, if your proposal is accepted, you will need to be a paying member to present at the conference.

Submissions should include the following:

  • Presenter name(s), role(s), institution(s), and email(s)
  • Session format (individual presentation, panel presentation, workshop, roundtable, or SIG)
  • Working title
  • 3 keywords that best describe your proposal
  • A proposal in one of the following formats:
    • Written proposal (about 500 words)
    • Audio proposal (5 minutes or less)
    • Video proposal (5 minutes or less)

Proposal Scoring Rubric

Conference proposals will be scored using the following rubric:

  • Is the presentation situated in an existing body of research?
    • Rating 0-5
    • 0 = does not draw from any existing scholarship
    • 5 =  significantly draws from existing scholarship
  • Would this presentation contribute to diverse perspectives and interpretations of the conference theme of interdependence?
    • Rating 0-5
    • 0 = unclear topic, irrelevant to OWCs; replicates previous contributions; does not synthesize previous research
    • 5 = clear topic exceptionally meaningful to OWCs; proposes new idea; draws new connections or conclusions; recontextualizes or rearticulates previous research
  • Would this presentation contribute to diverse and inclusive online writing center theory and/or practice?
    • Rating 0-5
    • 0 = irrelevant to the conference theme
    • 5 = compellingly responds to conference theme about OWCs
  • Would you recommend we accept the proposal?
    • Yes (priority)
    • Yes (if space & time permit)
    • No
  • Additional comments