CFP for MLA 2020: Hacking Academic Care

The MLA Committee on Information Technology invites abstracts on the intersections between academic practices, technology, and care for a roundtable session at the MLA conference in Seattle from January 9-12, 2020.

The topic of care in academia — especially as it relates to information technologies — is contentious, to say the least. As information technology, from email to Twitter, increasingly saturates our academic workflows, the maintenance of healthy professional boundaries becomes increasingly difficult. Whether it’s the expectation that we answer email 24/7, or the blurred professional lines on social media that can easily lapse into abuses of power, technology can make caring for ourselves more challenging. Unsurprisingly, the link between self-care and social media hiatuses is common: countless editorials and professional advice columns tell us to unplug, to step away from email, to draw and maintain boundaries via a disengagement from information technology.

But this kind of advice ignores the vital role information technology, especially social media, plays for many academics. Disabled scholars describe relying on social media to participate in scholarly conversations when conferences aren’t accessible, while racialized scholars turn to platforms like Twitter to find community that their own institutions don’t offer. Social media can allow for participation in scholarly events and communities despite geographical and/or financial barriers. When social media is itself how academics find and practice care, drawing boundaries around information technology’s saturation of our lives becomes increasingly complex.

This roundtable invites short presentations of 5-7 minutes that will reflect, from a variety of perspectives, on the links between academic practices, information technology, and care for self and community. Topics may include (but are not limited to):

  • Information technology and work-life balance in academia;
  • Social media hiatuses, “unplugging,” and other forms of boundary-drawing
  • Social media, abuses of academic power, and #MeToo
  • Digital communities as forms of care
  • Remote participation, sustainability, and accessibility

Please submit 250 word abstracts by 15 March, 2019, to hannah_mcgregor@sfu.ca.

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