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cfp: Defining, Locating, and Addressing Bullying in the WPA Workplace

Submitted by syntaxfactory on September 14, 2015 - 10:20pm

Defining, Locating, and Addressing Bullying in the WPA Workplace
Dr. Cristyn L. Elder and Dr. Bethany Davila, University of New Mexico
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Given the prevalence of workplace bullying and the often unique and/or vulnerable position of WPAs (e.g., untenured WPAs; WPAs who have high campus visibility but lack the power to make hiring/firing/budget decisions; WPAs in literature departments, etc.), it is important to dedicate resources to defining behaviors and patterns of bullying and offer specific strategies for agentive responses. Much of WPA literature has addressed issues of power associated with WPA work (e.g., Dew and Horning; George; Mountford; Pauliny; Strickland and Gunner; Schell; White). However, workplace bullying has not yet received focused attention in WPA scholarship. In The Promise and Perils of Writing Program Administration (2008), Skeffington, Borrowman, and Enos begin the collection by listing the questions they did not ask in “a Web survey of WPAs” (p. 8), including, as the authors note, the most important, yet implicit, question—“are you okay?”— a question to which “many junior faculty with administrative duties cannot respond positively on either a personal or professional level” (p. 9). Despite the acknowledgment of the challenges WPAs face, including either being bullied or seeing others bullied, there has yet to be a collection that focuses on defining, locating, and addressing bullying in the WPA workplace—including perspectives from (non/un)tenured WPAs, WPAs from underrepresented social groups, WPAs for whom English is not their native language, and WPAs responding to the bullying of others (e.g., students, staff, faculty, etc.). This, we believe, is an oversight that leaves workplace bullying largely unnamed and undertheorized, forcing WPAs into the vulnerable position of having to seek out resources and advice on their own or to read between the lines of what has been published.

Leah Hollis, Ed.D, (2012) estimates the incidence of workplace bullying in higher education to be approximately 62% (p. 36). In contrast to the lack of direct attention it has received within WPA scholarship, workplace bullying has been a topic of increasing importance in higher education, with articles ranging from reporting on incidents of bullying (DeFrancesco, 2015; Wilson, 2010) to describing anti-bullying policies (Flaherty, 2014). Additionally, according to other scholarship on workplace bullying, “there is growing evidence suggesting that minority status could be a contributing factor to receiving differential treatment in the workplace” (Lewis, Giga, and Hoel, 2010, p. 271). As such, the issue of workplace bullying is an issue of social justice, as minority and disenfranchised WPAs may be silenced or excluded through these practices.

For the above reasons, the editors of this collection invite chapter proposals for theoretical essays, empirical research, narratives, practice-oriented papers, book reviews, action research and reflective essays. Proposals are welcome on (but not limited to) the following topics:

Definitions of Bullying in the WPA Workplace:
● What is workplace bullying/harassment in the WPA workplace? How is it operationalized?
● What is cyberbullying in the WPA workplace? How is it operationalized?
● What are the various ways bullying is experienced by teachers? administrators? graduate students? undergraduate students? international students? international faculty? multilingual writers? non-traditional students? women? men? people of color? members of the LGBTQ community? others?
● How is workplace bullying/harassment identified and measured?
● What are the risk factors for bullying and/or harassment?
● What are the costs of bullying?

Locations of Bullying:
● How is bullying/harassment experienced or perpetrated by stakeholders within first-year composition programs? writing centers? WAC programs? undergraduate programs? graduate programs? departments? committees? professional organizations? on the job market? in different cultural settings?
● How does workplace bullying/harassment overlap with working conditions, issues of a living wage, health and safety, discrimination?

Effectiveness of Bullying Interventions and Programs:
● What are best practices for addressing workplace bullies?
● What are best practices for addressing those who have been bullied?
● How do we cope with/respond to workplace ill-treatment of ourselves? of others?
● What are prevention and intervention issues related to bullying and harassment?
● How do we promote, build, and maintain healthy workplaces for all?
● How do we build bullying prevention into our WPA preparation programs?
● What environmental and cultural changes might help to reduce bullying and harassment?
● What programmatic and/or policy changes might help to reduce bullying and harassment?
● How might we further advance our understanding of preventing and managing workplace bullying and harassment?

Proposals should be sent as an email attachment to both editors and should include a title, name(s) of author(s), and a 500-word statement of topic, argument, method, and description of chapter organization and development. Chapters will be approximately 15-20 pages in length.

Prospective contributors may send proposals or queries to the editors at and

Proposals due: October 26, 2015
Conditional acceptances: December 15, 2015
Manuscripts due: April 15, 2016