By Jenna Green
As this year’s conference asks us to consider commonplaces, it seems serendipitous that the Milwaukee Public Library’s Central Branch, an essential Milwaukee commonplace, is just three blocks from the convention center. An architectural, historical, and cultural jewel, Central Library is a place for learning, reading, exploring, connection, and contemplation.
Opened to the public in 1898, the French and Italian Renaissance architectural-style building features a stunning rotunda and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library nonprofit organization offers free docent tours highlighting the building’s architectural and historical significance. Tours begin at 11:00 a.m. each Saturday morning in the rotunda. Private tours at other times and sign language interpretation are available by appointment by calling (414) 286-TOUR.
In addition to the extensive paper and digital collections, Central Library also boasts a 33,000 square foot Green Roof, Betty Brinn Children’s Room featuring a Hans Christian Andersen stained glass window, community events and the Richard E. and Lucille Krug rare books room. Learn more about the extensive rare books collection here.
Book lovers (i.e. CCCC attendees!) will want to visit The Bookseller, located on the first floor of Central Library. Find recent bestsellers, newly published and unique nonfiction and fiction alike for a fraction of the price of any other book store in town. Most children’s books are 25 cents, paperbacks 50 cents, and hardcovers one dollar. Operated by the Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library and staffed almost entirely by volunteers, The Bookseller generates revenue to support the library and its literacy initiatives in Milwaukee.
The Bookseller is also home to R Café, a woman of color-owned business offering coffee, breakfast, sandwiches, and sweet treats. Watch for special displays and offerings for CCCC attendees.
Looking for other opportunities to learn about Milwaukee’s literary scene? Consider a visit to these neighborhood independent bookstores:
Boswell Book Company
A treasure among Milwaukee bibliophiles, Boswell offers a charming, intimate environment to browse, read, and shop on Milwaukee’s East Side. Owner Daniel Goldin and his knowledgeable staff will help you find your next favorite book. Boswell is also known for hosting many author events and supporting local writers.
For poetry lovers, a visit to Woodland Pattern is a must. It’s a staple Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood with a longstanding history and commitment to community engagement. The nonprofit bookstore is a haven for poets, small presses, and local authors, while offering events, readings, workshops and art exhibitions.
Half a mile from the Wisconsin Center, this abundant and quirky used book shop is perfect for finding a unique souvenir.
Voyageur Book Shop
Located in the heart of Milwaukee’s Bayview neighborhood, Voyageur is a used bookstore with an emphasis on rare books.
Jenna Green is Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Marquette University. Her teaching and research focuses on digital and multimodal composing, literacy studies, and multilingual writers.
By Dr. Lucy Johnson
I had the opportunity to sit down with this year’s conference chair, Julie Lindquist, and her research assistant, Bree Gannon via Skype to learn about what’s new this year at 4C20. Our focus was not only to inform new attendees of the conference about all the wonderful opportunities for networking, community building, and professionalizing, but also to specifically highlight what makes this year unique.
In reflecting on past iterations of the conference, what sets this year apart from others?
Julie: I think there are several things that we’re hoping to carry forward from prior years, but there are a few things that make MKE 2020 distinctive. One is the emphasis on the conference as an experience and an event oriented to attendees as learners. We’re seeing the conference as a space where folks have several opportunities for new learning, not exclusive to panels—that is, intentionally designed places of and occasions for conversation, connection, and reflection.
How can the conference be an experience that cannot be had other ways? What experience does the conference offer that might not be available in other times and places?
Julie: We think a conference makes a provisional community for people that may not exist in other spaces. It gets people out of their local contexts, and it builds relationships across disciplines, geographical locations, and communities. More than anything, it really embodies the professional community in ways that can’t be replicated.
Bree: As a PhD student, it’s always interesting for me to remember that a lot of people work in isolation. Conferences are an opportunity to connect with others in ways that might not be available to people locally. It also gives people the chance to discover how the field is changing and transforming. We read articles and books, but conferences give us the opportunity to experience the work of others in more intimate and embodied ways.
In cultivating that sense of community for conference attendees, what are the spaces at 4C20 for people to connect and develop new relationships?
Julie: When we were planning the conference, we began asking questions at our own institution like, “What do you expect from a conference?” and “what do you hope to get out of attending a conference?” The thing that kept surfacing was the accidental conversations that manifest. We began thinking about how we might make those “elevator conversations” more intentional in the design of the conference itself. One thing we developed is called Common Grounds coffee houses, which are pop up coffee stations that are set up at various times and places throughout the conference. You can go in and get a cup of coffee and it costs you the price of a conversation. In other words, it’s not coffee to go, it’s coffee to stay. It’s a place and space to have these organic conversations.
Another element that is still in the planning phase are the Think Mobs, which are on- and off-site opportunities for conversation. We want to provide an experience where people have a place to meet others and connect. The Friday night event is also very exciting this year. In the past, it’s most often been a band in a ballroom. This year, we’re really striving to embody the summer festival vibe that Milwaukee is so famous for, so we’ll have food trucks lined up just outside of the Wisconsin Center Atrium. Inside, there’s going to be a local music act called SistaStrings, spoken word poetry by Milwaukee poet laureate Dasha Hamilton, cash bars, and games.
Bree: We’ve also developed Documentarian roles for this year’s conference. The Documentarian role seeks to capture how people connect with one another and with the experience of the conference itself. Documentarians are charged with capturing those moments of connection, experience, and movement, and documenting them so that these stories are available to the wider 4C20 community. We hope to surface and listen to those stories and perspectives that are sometimes overlooked or unheard.
How have you worked with the Local Arrangements Committee (LAC) to ensure that the conference is about Milwaukee?
Julie: We’ve worked very closely with the LAC chair, Maria Novotny, and her team. The LAC, in turn, has worked in collaboration with SJAC, the Social Justice Action Committee. Maria has been organizing with local community members to plan experiences like narrated bus tours of the North and South Side communities, which will provide a more embodied experience of local stories. Our close collaboration with the LAC has been motivated by the goal of creating a more situated conference experience within Milwaukee, so that we’re all encouraged to recognize the place we are in and attend to its history.
Bree: We both read the book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond, which is based in Milwaukee, and we became really passionate about incorporating that text into some of the conversations at the conference. For example, SJAC put together an activist panel that engages the stories and issues the book describes. For us, the story told in Evictedbecame a sort of central component to weaving Milwaukee and its history into the conference.
Another thing we’re working with the LAC on is the land/water acknowledgements. At the conference, there’s going to be a table set up for people who want to learn more about land/water acknowledgements and how to incorporate them into their teaching, presentations, and academic identities in a way that honors the indigenous communities, land/water, and histories. Maria has been a central figure in working with the American Indian Caucus and working with local indigenous communities to offer Native vendors and exhibits at the conference.
We’ve talked a lot about community building for conference attendees. On the other end, how has the planning of this conference been a collaborative experience?
Julie: The planning has truly been a collaborative experience since the beginning. From the CFP to the vision to the execution, we’ve been working together every step of the way, seeing the conference experience as a pedagogical space, and working towards ways to express that vision. I serve as Bree’s research mentor, and we have worked together in many other capacities, so a lot of the things we believe as teachers and administrators are showing up in the planning of this conference. These explicitly collaborative experiences, and also the everyday moments in our lives as teachers and scholars, have shaped the planning process for us.
Bree: One of the things we wanted to do this year as part of the reflective process was create a zine-style planner for conference participants. This zine is a creative journal with an artistic element to it. We collaborated with designer and academic Lauren Brentnell on the creation of this zine. It has many reflection sections to allow a space for attendees to reflect and record their experiences and takeaways. We’re excited about the zine being a collaborative experience for attendees across the conference.
We realized early on that Julie and I are just one perspective, both from MSU, and so we brought in other perspectives. We’ve been collaborating with stakeholders such as Maria, Michael Pemberton of the SJAC, and members of NCTE. We’ve also learned a lot from the work of those who have done the conference planning before us.
On that note, how does the conference participate in an ongoing narrative? What has it carried forward from prior years, and what likely to be carried forward into 2021?
Julie and Bree: There are a lot of conference events and experiences that are ongoing. Even with all the things that are new, we’ve still tried to maintain and honor the work that past chairs—Vershawn, Asao, and Caroline, most recently—have done. In recent years, there’s been a lot of concern about social justice and diversity, inclusion, and what it means to have access. These are important goals of the conference and we think what we’re doing is not anything radically different but rather continuing this focus and work in new ways. Holly Hassel, the incoming chair, has expressed that she’d like to carry forward the Documentarian idea, so that may become a component of the conference that will continue to carry momentum in the years to come. In many ways, It feels like there has been, and will be, an ongoing story for the conference.
In thinking about all that’s going into the conference planning, what have you learned--about the conference itself, and about the wider profession--through conceiving and planning a conference? What has been most surprising?
Bree: I’ve been going to 4Cs throughout my time as a student presenting my work. However, I don’t think I really understood the conference until I began this role as a research assistant. Prior to my work with 4C20, I had imagined that some kind of inaccessible executive board of people made these decisions behind closed doors. However, the people who are involved are just that—people. All of this work is service-driven. People are volunteering their time and labor, and I’ve learned that you can play an influential role in the conference in a way I didn’t realize until now.
Julie: There’s a lot of goodwill behind this conference—and the organization itself—that people don’t always get to see. Like Bree, I also found this experience to be supportive and communal, but I think there are ways we can work in the future to make this planning a bit more transparent to the the larger 4C20 community. This shouldn’t be an invisible process, and both of us had the experience of not knowing much about the process until we were in it. We’re hoping the work of the Documentarians can showcase some of that “behind the scenes” collaboration that is vital to the success of the conference.
Dr. Lucy Johnson is an assistant professor of digital literacies at UW-Eau Claire, where she teaches courses in rhetoric, technology, and culture. Her research examines ethical communication design and human-centered (as opposed to machine-based) digital literacy initiatives and outcomes within higher ed.
By Jenni Moody
Welcome to the Brew City from your friendly local vegan!
Whenever I go to a conference in another city, I’m always excited to scope out the veg-friendly restaurants in town. But with making travel plans and deciding on which panels to attend, the task of finding places to eat and buy veg supplies usually falls by the wayside. At the end of the day, I find myself scrolling through Google reviews right outside the conference center while my stomach growls.
To help you find the right spot for dinner and a drink, for grabbing supplies to take back to your hotel, or for something sweet, here are some resources and recommendations for plant-focused food in Milwaukee!
Getting Started: Vegan Milwaukee
We’re lucky to have Vegan Milwaukee, an amazing website full of restaurant descriptions and community resources.
If location is your primary concern with finding veg-friendly food, then check out this map of restaurants by location.
If you’d like to go to 100% plant-based or to all-vegetarian restaurants, check out this guide that has great photos and links to each restaurant’s website.
And if you’re staying at a place where you can cook your own food and you’d like to buy some groceries, here’s a helpful list of grocery stores with veg-friendly items. Outpost is our local whole foods-focused store with several locations.
Short on Time
If you need to eat near the conference center, check out the restaurant guide made by our hospitality committee and search the features for “vegan friendly”.
If you’re looking to go a bit further afield, below are some of my favorite places to eat in Milwaukee.
Food. But also, Drinks!
For when you’re looking for dinner and want to wind down from the conference with a drink.
Take It To Go
For when you’re looking to grab some food to take back to your hotel or AirBnB for a night in.
For that point in the conference when all you want is some vegan dessert.
I hope you’ll share your own vegan recommendations by commenting here on the blog or on Twitter @writingmke with hashtag #4c20 and #writingmke!
Jenni Moody is a Distinguished Dissertator in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Creative Writing PhD program, where she serves as Coordinator of the College Writing and Research composition program and as a mentor to new Graduate Teaching Assistants. She writes fiction that considers kinship with non-human animals, materiality, and image-text intersections. She studied creative writing at the MFA program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and at the Clarion West Writers Workshop.
By Claire Edwards
Milwaukee is known as the city that beer made famous. Indeed, the history of modern Milwaukee is built on the brewing and selling of beer, and you will see many reminders of that history throughout the city from the Pabst Mansion to the various bars and microbreweries. But, I assure you, despite prominent marketing that might suggest otherwise, there is plenty for a sober Milwaukee visitor to do during their CCCC downtime.
Here, I offer some suggestions for sites to visit and activities to partake in during your visit to Milwaukee that do not showcase alcohol consumption as well as some completely alcohol-free options.
If you have other Milwaukee sober and sober-friendly options, please share them in the comments below or tweet us @writingmke with #4c20 and #writingmke.
-Claire Edwards is a second-year PhD student in Public Rhetorics and Community Engagement at UWM. She spent several years in teaching, tutoring, and administrative positions at community colleges and online universities in Southern California before moving to Milwaukee to pursue her doctorate. She spends her free time watching movies with her husband and cat.
By Kris Purzycki
The crowds. The presentations. The schedules. The events. The city. The scholarship. The posters. The vendors. The swag...
Without a doubt, CCCC is a lot to take in. A conference which draws in thousands of attendees from across the globe challenges the newcomer to navigate a lot of emotions, responsibilities, and intense experiences. All of which can be exhausting when packed into a few short days. Fortunately, the CCCC community is a welcoming one, eager to ensure that a newcomer’s first conference experience is incredible. Before arriving in Milwaukee, here is a sketch of what the newcomer can expect and some general advice for anyone looking forward to their first “Cs.”
“To combat fatigue and expand the content I take away,” describes Megan Mize, “I like to create a Google Doc so that I can divide and conquer with willing colleagues; they get my notes from panels, I get theirs, all in one place. This way, I leave with more information and a diversity of topics since they may hit up panels I might not have thought to, but I don't burn out trying to make it to every single thing.” Twitter feeds can also be good when catching up after the conference itself.
There are a couple of events the newcomer should try and make time for. Be sure to attend the Opening Session and Chair’s address. “It sets the tone for the conference,” shares Lauren Woolbright, “and it often makes a good conversation starter.” Last year’s provocative address by Asao Inoue, for example, has become a touchstone for discussion ever since.
One of the great opportunities provided to the first-timer is also the Newcomer’s Breakfast. Typically held on Thursday morning, this event is a must for the first-time attendee. “Go get free food and coffee,” Woolbright suggests. “The breakfast highlights a number of things happening at the conference and key people.” It’s also where you can learn about Cs the Day.
You should also not feel guilty for taking breaks or otherwise not doing what you’re “supposed to do” at Cs. It’s a long conference. If you have to travel to make the Wednesday workshops and are committed to staying for the entire conference, you might be looking at five or six jam-packed days! Take a break. Explore the city! Once there, prioritize a gathering at one of the publisher parties or elsewhere. As busy as we are, it can be difficult to get to know those in our department. One of the surprisingly unspoken qualities of a conference is that it is a retreat away from those responsibilities that seem to wander past your office door. Plan a meetup then relish setting up that automated email response: “I will be out of town to attend a conference…”
Admittedly, this is so much easier to type and say than it is to actually do. If you wrestle with introductions and small talk, the networking experience can be a challenge of wills: Will I say something inane? Will there be coffee available? Will anyone attend my workshop? If there’s a way to soothe those inner voices, I haven’t found that salve. One way to get around this is to find established organizations and activities.
There are currently three dozen standing groups and caucuses, for example, where one can not only get involved with the CCCC community but also meet others with similar interests. Most of these organizations hold their annual meetings at the conference and are an excellent way to get involved with a group dedicated to the betterment of the field.
Scheduling and What to Attend
Like I hinted at above, people get pretty burnt out at Cs when trying to do too much. There’s this strange notion that we can check out all of our colleagues panels, prepare our own work, put in a few volunteer hours, check out an interesting standing group. Maybe it’s possible for some people but not all of us, myself included.
Prioritize two or three panels that look interesting followed by a couple friends’ panels. For the whole conference.
Chances are, there’ll be other newcomers there as well! After a few quests, you’ve earned yourself the coveted sparkle pony! Designed as a low-barrier way to get involved in the conference, Cs the Day is aimed at CCCC newcomers but has attracted a large crowd of players who regularly attend Cs. Many players become volunteers for the game as it’s become one of the better ways to meet others.
Whether you’re on a budget or not, the vendor room at CCCC cannot be denied. When packing for CCCC, you should make sure to leave plenty of empty space in your luggage for all the books, bags, and tchotchkes. Sarah McGinley suggests to, “bring an extra suitcase for the books you'll buy. Or that are free!” To be sure, unless you have impenetrable willpower, you’ll be going home with an additional 50 pounds of textbooks, collections, and works of fiction.
Most representatives are happy to talk about their offerings. Many will offer a free instructor copy of the book either at the conference or will mail it to you at a later date. A few things that they’ll likely want to know: what’s your position and involvement in making decisions on textbooks. Be honest, of course.
It’s also worth considering your own options for publishing. Several editors and contributors are likely to be in attendance so don’t pass up a chance to discuss potential projects.
Be Prepared to be Unprepared
There is only one way to really be prepared for the Cs: be prepared to be poorly prepared. While there is a certain measure of professionalization and ethos (be sure to prep your mental glossary of rhetorical concepts!) involved, there are many, many newcomers to be found. Find them! Others who have seen their share of Chair’s addresses, lanyards layered in ribbons down to their floor, and calmly tweaking their slides, will be happy to offer guidance in exchange for the opportunity to regale you with their own Cs wanderlusts.
Everyone’s expectations and anticipations for their first Cs is unique of course. Any other advice for the CCCC initiate? Share your experiences in the comments, or if you have additional #newcomer advice, tweet it @writingmke with #4C20 and #writingmke.
Kris Purzycki (UW-Milwaukee) is one of the founding members of the Council for Play and Game Studies at CCCC for which he currently serves as the Associate Chair. He is also currently working with the 2020 Hospitality and Social Media Committees.
By Chloe Smith, Madison Williams, and Danielle Koepke
Greetings from the editorial team!
As many of our fervent and devoted readers may have noticed, there has been a great deal of construction taking place on our blog over the past several months. This March, the 2020 Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) is being held here in Milwaukee, and Writing & Rhetoric MKE has been chosen to host the local landing page for the conference! Since being alerted of this exciting opportunity last year, we have been hard at work compiling content for the upcoming conference and making a space on our blog for this content. Volunteers through the local arrangements and website teams have collaborated to create the content that we’ve organized here for visitors to Milwaukee.
As the assembly of our CCCC pages comes together, we wanted to take a moment to highlight some of these new pages, and foreshadow what future CCCC content you can expect to view as we lead up to the conference.The newest main tab featured at the top of our blog, #4C20, is the landing page for the wealth of information waiting for you just beyond the horizon. This tab contains all things #4C20, both as static information and as links out to other useful resources.
Plunge into all the things #4C20 has to offer, including overarching categories such as accessibility, land/water acknowledgment, lodging and transportation, local CCCC events, and visitingMKE. Through these tabs, you can find information to help you prepare for the conference, give details about getting around the city, and find some great places for gathering with others during your time here in March.
Because of all the CCCC excitement, we’ll be taking a brief break from our usual content until the conference is over. Instead, we’ll be featuring posts on a range of CCCC related topics like advice for first-time attendees, the best spots for vegan and vegetarian diets, and some of the most offbeat attractions in the city. These posts still tie into our vision as an editorial team. Before, during, and after CCCC, we hope to highlight the opportunities conference attendees have to experience local community events, as well as the wide range of cuisine, culture, and attractions in our city.
If you’re presenting at the upcoming conference, we welcome you to go to our accessibility and land/water acknowledgement pages, where you can find some helpful resources to consider as you prepare your presentation and materials, such as the conference accessibility guide and suggested reflective actions to take in writing a land/water acknowledgement.
We’re so excited to share this content with you and welcome you to Milwaukee! Please keep in touch with us in the comments here on the blog, or on Twitter @writingmke and with #writingmke. Interested in writing a blog post of your own about something CCCC-related? We are looking for individuals to write reflective pieces post-conference about their experiences of CCCC and of Milwaukee.
We’re looking forward to seeing you in March! Here’s hoping it’s not snowing (But seriously, pack a winter jacket just in case).
Chloe, Madison, and Danielle