A small, focused eight-day Institute, designed to recall the original 1966 event while looking forward to the future of writing research, will feature intense discussions of “working papers” by authors including Chuck Bazerman, Deborah Brandt, Ellen Cushman, David Galbraith, Makoni Sinfree, and Clay Spinuzzi. These authors will work on their ideas in conversation with twenty Institute participants. These authors will present their new work as plenaries at the Conference; the Institute participants will respond to the plenaries and present their work in concurrent sessions.

Participants will work on grappling with research about themes that echo the original Dartmouth Seminar while incorporating current issues in teaching and learning.

We will bring together people from disciplines and representing writing research perspectives that don’t normally talk to each other, echoing this kind of encounter in 1966. While certainly disciplinary boundaries are always in some ways artificial, they are still foundational, creating the possibility for interdisciplines and for pushing against those boundaries. The Institute will encourage both “generous reading” of other methods and critical engagement with them. Our sense is that we can’t afford to not pay attention to others at the research table.

Some of the questions that will be considered in the process:

  • Do methods work as neutral tools, useful and useable in any configuration, or are they always constrained by epistemological frames?
  •  How do researchers make choices about engaging with methods?
  • What might be the cultural, linguistic, technological, political, ideological, social, ethnic, racial, or socio-economic interests shaping or driving those choices?

2016 also marks the 5th anniversary for the Dartmouth Summer Seminar for Writing Research. Driving foundational work in another key domain for the 21st century, this groundbreaking program is developing the field’s capacity for empirical research by training writing researchers who can bring the best of both the humanities and the social sciences together to understand the nature of writing, learning to write, and teaching writing. It was specifically designed to reach back to the historic Dartmouth Seminar and to point forward to the discipline’s future in empirical work striving to answer the deepest, most fundamental interdisciplinary questions about the communication and construction of meaning across disciplinary, modal, linguistic, and national frontiers.