Events / Annual IWCA Conference

Tutor, Writer, Director, Spy

Writing Center work requires crossing borders and boundaries, infiltrating new systems, understanding the code, and sometimes using a little sleight of hand. Join us at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers in Chicago, IL from November 10-12, 2017 for a conference dedicated to understanding all our secret work. What secrets do you leak and which do you keep to yourself? Share your secrets for getting things done whether as a tutor, writer, director, or spy.

  • Tutors: What have you learned about working with your peers–both your fellow writers and tutors? What research have you been reading or doing? What do you need your administrators or instructors on your campus to know? What is your tutoring philosophy and how does it guide your ethics? What is your lair like? How does it inform or impede your work? How is your work informed by identity–yours and others? What else does your Control, MI6, or Acme Tomato Company need to know?


  • Writers: What do writers want us to know about working with them? What research are we doing on writers? What research are we doing on ourselves? To what extent do we see ourselves as writers? How do we communicate to writers what we need them to know? How do writers understand good writing and feedback? What is good writing center work for writers? How do writers fit into/appreciate/negotiate our spaces? Are our spaces really open to all or do they marginalize purposefully or unwittingly? What else do we need to know about writers’ codes, ciphers, routes?
  • Directors: What do you know about working in your center? What research have you been doing? How do you get things done? Who are your sleeper spies or moles? What do you need tutors and stakeholders on your campus to know? How do you communicate your needs to stakeholders? What is your administrative philosophy and how does it guide your ethics? How autonomous are your from Control? Are they merging your departments or bargaining away your spycraft? Is your center a safe house? Who can come in from the cold? Is your mission impossible for some but not for others? What other secrets do you need to crack?


  • Spies: Where are the hidden plans? What’s in your attache case? What do you need to pass on? What’s the code? What’s on the microfiche? How do you use your decoder ring? What tools do you use to get things done? What is the cipher? How do you set things in motion? Which chess piece are you? How do you work with or against institutional directives and foreign combatants? Do you ever feel like a double agent? Or do you wish you were? Do you trust all of your contacts? Have you ever had to take the night train to an unknown destination? Have you ever had to meet in a foggy alleyway? Do you feel like agents are coming to take you to the Farm? How you ever had to say “Dogs barking; can’t fly without umbrella?”


Session Formats

The  2017 IWCA Conference consists primarily of 75-minute concurrent sessions. Participants may propose any of the following types of presentation:

  • Panel  Presentation: 3 to 4 presentations of 15-­20 minutes each on a specific theme or question.
  • Individual  Presentation: 15-­20 minute presentation (that will be combined into a panel by the program chairs).
  • Workshop: A participatory session that engages attendees in active learning.
  • Roundtable Discussion:15 minutes of introductory framing by the leader(s) followed by a facilitated discussion among attendees.
  • Special Interest Groups: Informal conversations with colleagues and peers who have similar interests, institutional settings, or identities.
  • Ignite Presentation: A 5-minute presentation composed of  20 images each lasting 15 seconds (modified PechaKucha).
  • Poster Presentation: A research-­fair style presentation in which the presenter(s) create a visual argument and informally discuss their research with attendees.
  • Secret Mission: A Collaborative Scavenger Hunt: A conference-long mission full of encrypted messages and eyes-only directives that will take you and other participants from Uncle to the field. You’ll meet spymasters, sleepers, and handlers and have a chance to learn more about the secrets of our craft and trade in a very nontraditional way. Imagine a scavenger hunt littered with discussions of theory, pedagogy, research, and practice. The take – interesting conversations and new allies from around the world. This mission will allow you to interact with others throughout the conference while still being able to attend as many other sessions and SIGs as you would like. You may sign up for the Secret Mission while also proposing a different session format.

Proposal  Guidelines

  1. Log in to the conference proposal submission page at
  2. The Abstract should be 75-­100 words. If accepted, the abstract will appear in the program, so write an abstract that lets attendees know what to expect and why they should come.
  3. The Session Description should be no more than 300 words. Proposal reviewers evaluate session descriptions to determine the extent to which they meet the following criteria:
    a. Relevance to conference theme
    b. Appeal to a wide range of audiences
    c. Strength of focus and purpose of proposal
    d. Appropriateness in the field
  4. To honor the integrity of the blind review process, please do not refer to speaker names in the abstract or session description. Instead, for example, use “Presenter 1,” “Presenter 2,” etc. to refer to speakers.
  5. An individual may propose only session and one SIG. The Secret Mission format does count towards your proposal limit.
  6. Submit  proposals by 11:59 PM CST on April 1, 2017. Proposers will be notified of decisions by June 15, 2017.
  7. All presenters must accept invitations by August 1, 2017.
  8. All presenters must register by October 1, 2017 in order to appear in the    conference program.

Please  contact  Lauri Dietz ( or Andrew Jeter (, Conference Co-Chairs with any questions regarding the conference proposal submission process.