Call for Proposals: Special Issue of Literacy in Composition Studies
Composing a Further Life
Guest Editors: Lauren Marshall Bowen and Suzanne Rumsey
The world is aging. According to the National Institute on Aging, rising life expectancies and reduced fertility mean that the percentage of older adults is steadily increasing worldwide. Longer lives, extended careers, and cultural changes are reshaping what it means to grow old. As a multidimensional identity category, old age presents a particularly rich source of inquiry for compositionists. Aging is accompanied by a wide and varied range of biological and cognitive changes, which present new barriers—and new benefits—to existing literacy practices, to new literacy development, and to the experience of teaching. At the same time, old age is a sociopolitical identity category that is necessarily interpreted through different cultural and historic perspectives—constructions and interpretations partly generated by the production and circulation of texts and discourses.
In many ways, the lens of old age highlights the need for conscious connections between composition and literacy, the keywords of this very journal. Despite efforts to the contrary (e.g., Dobrin), Composition Studies remains a field primarily associated with writing at the college level, which often means it is a field most centrally concerned with the study of young adult writers. In Literacy Studies, however, older adults have figured in studies documenting the cross-generational ebbs and flows of literacy over time. While such cross-generational comparison is essential to understanding the larger social, cultural, and economic contexts of literacy, there is more to be learned from viewing Composition specifically from the perspective of old age and aging.
Borrowing its title from Mary Catherine Bateson’s 2010 Composing a Further Life, this special issue invites scholarship that considers how attention to old age and aging might expand, and perhaps even challenge, what we know about composition. Questions of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:
- What new purposes and exigencies for writing emerge in later life?
- How do technological, social, and cultural changes place new demands on the existing literacies of older adults?
- How does advancing age impact the transfer of new knowledge about writing?
- What does it mean to age as a writer and/or as a writing teacher?
- How do we compose our late careers or post-retirement lives as compositionists?
- How well do interfaces of composing technologies account for the aging body?
- How might composition and literacy instruction participate in shaping perceptions of older people?
- How might community literacy pedagogies foster opportunities for cross-generational composition?
To be considered, please submit a 250-word abstract or a manuscript draft to the editors at firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions may also be directed to this email. The deadline for proposal submissions is September 1, 2017. Accepted manuscripts will be due January 31, 2018.