S281. Balancing Act: Neutrality in the Classroom?

Room 15, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor
Saturday, March 10, 2018
4:30 pm to 5:45 pm


After the 2016 election, many university administrations advised faculty to be politically neutral in the classroom, reminding us of our duty to students across the ideological spectrum. The rise of “professor watch lists” also make it risky for faculty—particularly contingent faculty—to be outspoken. But what if there’s fundamental conflict between the political zeitgeist and the core values of our workshops? How can we productively engage, and even resolve, this conflict in the classroom?



David Ebenbach is the author of seven books of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, including the new novel Miss Portland. He teaches creative writing at Georgetown University and is a project manager at Georgetown’s teaching center, the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship.

Ru Freeman is an award-winning Sri Lankan and American writer, a national speaker, and social justice activist. Author of the novels, A Disobedient Girl and On Sal Mal Lane, a New York Times Editor's Choice, she is editor of Extraordinary Rendition: (American) Writers on Palestine.

Holly Karapetkova is the author of two full-length poetry collections, Words We Might One Day Say and Towline. She currently chairs the English department at Marymount University.

Sarah J. Trembath is an instructor in the Writing Studies Program at American University. Her written work appears in The Rumpus and Everyday Feminism. She has completed her first book-length work of poetry and prose on the influence and repetition of colonial patterns in contemporary society.

Edward Helfers teaches writing for the literature department at American University. You can find some of his work online at DIAGRAM, Booth, The Rumpus, The Nashville Review, Web Conjunctions, and elsewhere. His pedagogy poses questions of ownership over place, culture, and identity.


March 8–11, 2023
Seattle, Washington

Seattle Convention Center