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A Surplus of Options?: Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in the Language and Literature Classroom (Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) Convention)

Boston, MA
Organization: Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
Event: Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) Convention
Categories: Pedagogy, Rhetoric & Composition
Event Date: 2024-03-07 to 2024-03-10 Abstract Due: 2023-09-30

The next Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) Convention will be held in Boston, MA, from March 7-10, 2024. The roundtable "A Surplus of Options?: Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in the Language and Literature Classroom" is seeking abstracts (200-300 words) consistent with the conference theme of SURPLUS.


Language and literature faculty members’ commitment to inclusive, accessible, and equitable practices has intensified in recent years, largely due to the adjustments required by COVID-era teaching. Many of our academic programs and courses, in turn, have begun (or continued) to articulate a commitment to Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Initially intended to accommodate students with identified disabilities, UDL has evolved to characterize in-person and virtual learning environments that acknowledge all students’ skills and abilities, varying educational backgrounds, and disparate social privilege.

Enacting UDL, however, remains a contested and ambiguous project. Many faculty members look to the CAST UDL Guidelines as a starting place. Developed in 1984 by the Center for Applied Special Technology and regularly revised, these guidelines present “a set of concrete suggestions that can be applied to any discipline or domain.” These “concrete suggestions” nevertheless leave educators uncertain of how to enact them. Disability studies scholar Jay Dolmage, for example, expresses skepticism about schools’ tendency to reduce UDL to an accessibility checklist. Similarly, Anne-Marie Womack cautions educators to “remain vigilant in imagining the ways that inclusivity can still exclude.” As she explains, any effort to implement universal design is inevitably partial; no approach is truly inclusive for all students or instructors.

In response to the growing interest in—and ongoing uncertainty about—UDL, this roundtable invites language and literature faculty to share their ways of engaging UDL. Proposals for 10-minute presentations exploring any facet of UDL in language and literature classrooms are welcome. Possible topics include, but aren’t limited to, the following: teaching narratives about UDL successes and challenges; the impact of UDL on in-person or virtual classroom communities; assignment and/or CMS designs; best practices for assessing UDL curricula; faculty labor and/or institutional support for UDL; and critiques of UDL. Participants are encouraged to consider UDL’s breadth and flexibility in relation to the conference theme of surplus.


Abstracts are due September 30, 2023. NEMLA's submission guidelines are available at http://www.buffalo.edu/nemla/convention/callforpapers.html

For more information, please contact Jeanne Marie Rose, Associate Professor of English, Penn State University, Berks: <jmrose@psu.edu>. You can access the session’s submission portal here: https://cfplist.com/nemla/Home/S/20600


Jeanne Marie Rose