CFP: SHOWING THEORY TO KNOW THEORY:Understanding social science concepts through illustrative vignettes

Deadline: June 30, 2021

On behalf of Patricia Ballamingie (Carleton University) and Nancy Snow (OCAD University), I am sending this Call for Proposals for an exciting initiative, with funding from e-Campus Ontario, to create a new Open Educational Resource (OER). As I describe below, we are hoping that you will be interested in contributing to this effort. Note that final submissions are due June 30.

The project is titled: Showing Theory to Know Theory: Understanding social science concepts through illustrative vignettes. The OER will bring together a collection of 100+ short pedagogical pieces (500-1000 words) to help students understand complex theoretical concepts and disciplinary jargon from the critical social sciences. Following a set of defined guidelines (see the Author Guide in the attached PDF), OER contributors will create “vignettes”—short, evocative stories, illustrations or infographics, poems, described photographs, or other audio-visual material. This OER will be of use across disciplines and community contexts, democratizing theory while linking it to practical, grounded experience.

In The Elements of Style, Strunk and White famously implore us to show rather than tell what we want to express. In contrast, theoretical work seems perpetually prone to the latter. Nonetheless, abstraction and disciplinary jargon remain useful, synthesizing and communicating complex ideas—at least, to those who are already familiar with the terminology. This OER will demystify theoretical concepts, making abstract-yet-valuable ideas more accessible by “showing” (rather than “telling”) how they are meaningful and usable in day-to-day situations. Concepts such as performativity, neoliberalism, intersectionality, and social nature, among others, will become accessible without being diluted or “dumbed-down.” Instead, learners in both university and community contexts will be able to make the all-important connections between theory and practice, abstract and concrete, developing the critical reading skills and innovative forms of expression that are so urgently needed in today’s complex, entangled, and fraught social and political ecologies.

Vignettes can fall into several possible categories, including (but not limited to):

  • concrete, illustrative texts (see “The American Bullfrog: Economic savior to monster to miracle cure,” illustrating social nature, in the attached PDF)
  • short, evocative stories/narratives
  • illustrations (see “What if we could look at the Big Dipper from Alpha Centauri?,” illustrating positionality, in the attached PDF)
  • infographics
  • poems
  • described photographs
  • other audio-visual material

This is where you come in! Are there terms or concepts you use that would benefit from being “shown” in this collection? Would you like to create a vignette to illustrate it? We have come up with a long list of possibilities, but we also welcome submissions that address other terms/concepts.

If you are interested, please consult our initial spreadsheet of terms and concepts, and either select one (following the Notes to Contributors in the spreadsheet) or come up with another that we haven’t listed. Then reply to as soon as possible with a quick Expression of Interest, confirming the term/concept you would like to illustrate and the illustrative example that you would like to use. Final submissions are due June 30, although we would be happy to receive yours before that date.

Please also review the attached PDF carefully, which includes:

Author Guidelines

Instructions on how to join the Rebus Community (our open publishing platform)

Two examples of vignettes

Some additional details:

Learning Outcomes

After reading/viewing and discussing an individual vignette, our intention is that students will be able to:

  • Articulate, in their own words, the meaning of the theoretical concept/term at hand.
  • Form and describe connections between the theoretical concept/term and examples of how the concept/term is meaningful to lived experience.
  • Identify or create their own vignette, based on an existing understanding of a theoretical concept or term, and draw connections to lived experience and concrete examples.


  • Will these vignettes be peer reviewed? Yes, each vignette will be reviewed by one or more reviewers, plus the two editors. In keeping with the ethos of open publishing, reviewers will be credited for their contributions to the book.
  • Will these vignettes be published? Yes, we will publish this volume through the open-access publishing network, Rebus Community. It will then be available for free, open-access download in a number of file formats and through a variety of open-access digital repositories.
  • How will these vignettes be used? The OER as a whole will be beta-tested in classrooms by a select number of instructors, after which it will be made broadly available. We anticipate that instructors will use the vignettes in a variety of learning contexts and that students will use the OER independently as a reference tool. Because the book is being published under a CC-BY-NC licence (see below), we anticipate that it may be revised, updated, and republished in a number of different editions over the coming years.
  • Will I retain copyright over my vignette? The OER will be published under a Creative Commons CC-BY-NC licence, which means that it will be useable, remixable, and re-publishable by anyone, provided that they publish under the same license, give attribution to the original author, and do not benefit from any form of commercialization through their use of the work. (For more about OA and CC licenses, go to


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