Call for Proposals: College English Special Issue

Undergraduate Research and the “Conversations” of English Studies: Faculty Perspectives and Student Voices

A growing body of research points to the positive impact on student learning of undergraduate research in the humanities, such as fostering creativity and alternative ways of thinking, facilitating students’ critical reading and critical thinking skills, teaching the value of substantive revision, and generating student interest in graduate school.

—Laurie Grobman, “The Student Scholar: (Re)Negotiating Authorship and Authority”


It is viewed as a way of engaging students more deeply with the text and also as an aspect of professors’ engagement with the professional community. [It] is discussed sometimes as a process that constitutes fields or disciplines of study and sometimes as a pedagogical tool that “works” in teaching composition and literature. The former discussion, often highly theoretical, usually manages to keep at bay the more troublesome aspects. The discussion of classroom practice is less fortunate. What emerges there is that many teachers are unsure about how to use [it] and about when and where, appropriately, it should be used. Many are concerned also that when they try what seem to be effective and appropriate ways, it sometimes simply fails.

—Kenneth A. Bruffee “Collaborative Learning and the ‘Conversation of Mankind'”


When paired, Laurie Grobman’s description of the benefits of undergraduate research (UGR) and Kenneth Bruffee’s enumeration of challenges facing collaborative learning call on us to understand both the possibilities and perils we confront when we sponsor this mode of student learning and scholarly knowledge creation. That is, UGR is a high-impact practice that welcomes students into our community and gifts us with knowledge created from a perspective otherwise unavailable to us. As enumerated by Grobman, UGR offers students a host of benefits. And yet, UGR can be daunting for the reasons that recollect Bruffee’s words: As with the state of collaborative learning he described in 1984, today undergraduate research can be viewed with trepidation (How can I make this work in my classroom / with my students / in this time span?) or distrust (How could my students be capable of “real” research?). This call, then, is meant to elicit responses to both the opportunities and challenges of undergraduate research and to offer our students a venue to showcase the value of their work to our community.

Part One: Faculty Perspectives

Across the university, faculty research on UGR has taken many forms, from projects documenting investigations of what work “counts” / functions as undergraduate research; the impact of UGR pedagogies in the classroom or across a program to examining the works of undergraduate researchers or the role of UGR conferences or periodicals. Proposed works might explore these topics or other issues of interest to scholars and instructors invested in UGR pedagogies.

Faculty Proposal Submission Format: Proposals (~250 words) should describe the proposed argument, method, evidence, and implications of the study. Manuscripts resulting from accepted proposals will conform to CE submission guidelines. For any data that has been gathered, please include IRB information. Proposals are due by June 1, 2020, and accepted manuscripts will be due August 1, 2021. Questions and proposals should be sent to When submitting a proposal, please include a short CV and use “UGR Faculty Submission” as your subject line.

Part Two: Student Voices: College English is calling for contributions from undergraduate researchers for the July 2022 issue. We hope to see a varied range of submissions, for CE defines English studies as “literature, rhetoric-composition, critical theory, creative writing theory and pedagogy, linguistics, literacy, reading theory, and professional issues related to the teaching of English.” Such projects can happen inside or outside of a classroom setting but are, as Laurie Grobman and Joyce Kinkead argue in Undergraduate Research in English Studies, “distinct from the ubiquitous research paper” (ix); a project that is embedded in the inquiry’s discipline(s), carries forward a question and makes a novel intellectual contribution. We will evaluate such projects under the same criteria we use for any manuscript submitted to CE, considering the submission’s method, identifiable evidence, appropriateness for the College English audience, and original contribution to English studies.

Undergraduate Essay Submission Format: Essays should be between 3500 and 7000 words. Please send all submissions as a Word document attachment with text in a 12-pt, Times New Roman font, double-spaced. In your email, please include your name, college or university, and the name of the faculty member associated with your research (instructor, advisor, mentor, etc.). Please include “Undergraduate Research Manuscript Submission” in your email subject line. Questions and submissions should be sent to For consideration, complete manuscripts must be received by January 1, 2021.