Call for Proposals for a Special Issue of Composition Forum: “Risk, Failure, and the Teaching of Writing”

Posted by – April 25, 2024

Guest editors: Alexis Teagarden, UMass Dartmouth, and Justin Mando, Millersville University

We are pleased to open our call for proposed submissions to the Summer 2025 Special Issue of Composition Forum on the theme Risk, Failure and the Teaching of Writing.

Already engaged with the failure/risk conversation? Jump down to

Looking for more context? Read on.

Contextualizing Risk and Failure in Composition Studies

Failure is never far from a writing classroom, and risk is forever emerging in the writing (and learning) process. Instructors across specialties– from First-Year teaching to doctoral dissertation advising, Professional/Technical Communication to Creative Writing– as well as Rhetoric and Composition scholars and writing program administrators have considered the role failure and risk can and should play in writing. The work is invigorating, demonstrating the virtues it hopes to foster: creativity, curiosity, reflectiveness, intellectual humility, and a willingness to engage with difficulty. But it might be that the conversations have raised more questions than answers.

One issue is that failure holds different, even contradictory meanings. When Coles agrees that in a writing course “a certain amount of initial failure is not only inevitable but also desirable” (Boe, 2002, p. 12) and when Bartkevicius (2023) argues “Teaching, like writing, involves rough drafts (little failures) and revisions” (p. 117), they both emphasize failure as a part of invention, experimentation, and incremental improvement. This is a familiar connotation to failure, but not the only one. Carr (2013), for instance, ascribes a much more significant role to failure; it is “a deeply felt, transformative process” (n.p.). Are little, ongoing failures on the same continuum as Carr’s kind? Or is Coles right that “we need another name” for the ubiquitous failures of drafting, to contrast them with the transformative experience of “being a failure”? Understanding what we mean by failure might be a necessary step to fully develop the pedagogy of failure for which Carr and others have called.

Intellectual risk-taking appears to maintain a more stable definition: choices involving stakes and uncertainty (Johnstone, 1963) which all writers confront (e.g., Artemeva, 2005; Canagarajah & Lee, 2013). But how do the lines of scholarship on risk and failure interact?

Work from our field often references both without delving into their relationship. Kelty and Bunten (2017), in contrast, have argued risk and failure are part of a larger learning cycle, but their edited collection Intellectual Risk-Taking in Higher Education notably includes no chapters on writing classes. Does their model hold for our field? And if failure and risk are both phases in learning to write, how do we guide students into this cycle?

Such questions inspire our Special Issue, as we recognize a need for collective attention on the role failure and risk together should take in writing pedagogy. A central aim of this special issue is to bridge conversations between intellectual risk and failure, so we are particularly interested in submissions that focus on the relationship between the two. How might we continue to theorize, and what might we together generate as best practices in response to the potentials (good and ill) attached to teaching writing through risk and failure?

Some Quandaries to Consider

What is the interplay between intellectual risk-taking and failure, and how might the two together guide our approach to teaching?

How might we consider the ethical dimensions of intellectual risk-taking and failure? In On Duties, Cicero argues “a spirit which is ready to face danger but is driven by selfish desire rather than the common benefit should be called not courage, but audacity” (26). Does this attention to communal stakes change the way we consider risk-taking? In parallel, if Johnson and Sheehan (2020) are right that “Failure does indeed open up new possibilities and ways of thinking; however, failure also has material realities that must be acknowledged and dealt with ethically” (p. 133), how do we evaluate the role failure plays in our classrooms (Cox, 2011; Inoue, 2014; Inoue, 2020; Pantelides, 2020)?

Such questions apply to students but also instructors: what risks can and should teachers take on, and when do those risks become failures (Segal, 1996; Hall, 2002; Bauer, 2007; Waite, 2017; Craig, 2021)? How should such risks and failures be evaluated? (Horner & Lillis, 2015; Combs et al., 2015)?

In short, how should we bring both risk and failure into writing classrooms:

● for First-Years (e.g., Holmes and Wittman, 2020; Thoune, 2020; Fernandes et al, 2021),

● or majors (e.g., Bauer, 2007; Hamilton, 2016; Feigenbaum, 2021),

● or graduates (e.g., Rickly & Cook, 2017; Beare, 2018; Fredrick et al., 2020),

● in Prof/Tech Comm (e.g., Artemeva, 2005; West-Puckett & Moeggenberg, 2022),

● or Creative Writing (e.g., Bartkevicius, 2023; Ballenger, 2023; Suphap, 2023)?

Addressing the ethical issues raised by classroom risk-taking and failure can create another problem: how do we foster risk and failure safely or fairly without sanding away the very elements that prompt learning? For example, if we require students to take risks, have we encouraged risk-taking or have we just shifted the ways students conform to expectations and produce safe work (Hamilton, 2016; Fredrick et al., 2020)? Outside of grades, what do students–and writers more generally–recognize as risks (Kerschbaum, 2014; Teagarden et al., 2018; Saunders, 2020; Banville et al., 2021; Tennant, 2022; Tennant et al., 2022; Commer et al., 2024) and how can we encourage engagement in what feels risky (Hall, 2007; Canagarajah & Lee, 2013; Badenhorst et al., 2015; Chanock et al. 2015; Taczak & Mitchell, 2020; Meadows, 2023)?

Turning to administrative work, how do we respond to Cook & Hoermann-Elliott’s (2023) conclusion about failure’s potential for guiding writing program administration: “perhaps what the field needs next is not a heuristic defining failure’s purpose but one for exploring failure” (72)? How can we explore failure at the administrative level; how do and should administrators approach intellectual risk-taking (Nearman, 2008; Roach, 2008; Gross & Alexander, 2016; Bastian, 2019; Phillips & Giordano, 2020; Stenberg & Waite, 2020)?

Submission Information for Interested Authors and Reviewers

For Interested PEER REVIEWERS | Applications due July 15, 2024, submitted via our interest form

We invite interested readers to apply to serve as reviewers for initial proposals and/or completed manuscripts. Please note, submitting a proposal does not preclude you from also serving as a reviewer for the other journal sections or standing as a peer reviewer for full manuscripts. To indicate interest in serving as a special issue reviewer, please complete the reviewer interest form (

For Interested AUTHORS | Proposals due August 2, 2024, all submitted via our proposal form

We are soliciting proposals for

Research articles

Please submit a max 250-word proposal that outlines your argument or research project. Your proposal should include 3-5 key sources that guide your current thinking; these can be embedded or a separate list. See Composition Forum’s author guidelines for full expectations for a research article.

Program profiles

Please submit a max 250-word proposal that describes the program/course you would report on and how it relates to the special issue’s theme. Your proposal should include 3-5 key sources that guide your current thinking; these can be embedded or a separate list. See Composition Forum’s author guidelines for full details on what a program profile piece entails.

Book reviews

Please rank the books in terms of your review preference and submit a 150-word proposal outlining your strengths as a reviewer of work in the risk/failure conversation.


The special issue’s review process is governed by the conventions of Composition Forum (, with slight adjustments, noted below, to account for the special issue process.

All proposals will be reviewed by at least one special issue editor and one external reviewer, using this rubric (links to a google form).

Accepted manuscripts will be reviewed by either one editor and one external reviewer or two external reviewers. If you would like feedback on your proposal, we will be happy to review in advance of submission. Please contact the special issue editors: and


Mid-April, 2024:       Special Issue call circulates

July 15, 2024:         Applications due for peer reviewers 

August 2, 2024:     Proposals due

Early January 2025:   Full manuscripts of articles, profiles, book reviews due

Early May 2025:         Revised manuscripts due to editors

July 2025:                Special Issue published

Citations for the call available here: CF 2025 sp iss CFP references

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Submit Program Profile to Composition Forum

Posted by – January 26, 2024

The team at Composition Forum welcomes new “Program Profiles” editors to the journal: Dr. Holland Prior, Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Composition at Point Loma Nazarene University, and Dr. Joe Wilson, Assistant Professor of Composition and Literacy at Syracuse University.

We also want to thank our outgoing Program Profile editors, Dr. Crystal Fodrey and Christopher Shosted, for their incredible editorial work with the journal.

Currently, we are seeking submissions to the Program Profile section for our spring and fall issues. Program Profiles discuss the ways in which theories, research, and pedagogies shape individual college writing programs and inform programmatic initiatives. More information about the conventions of this genre and submission guidelines are available on our website

We define writing programs capaciously. We encourage profiles from programs serving students at any stage in their academic careers. Additionally, we encourage program profiles in contexts where the term “Writing Program” may not fully describe the writing work of the institution, such as in some transnational contexts.

Please feel free to contact the new Program Profiles editors with any and all questions: Holland Prior & Joe Wilson & 

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Vol. 52 of Composition Forum now available!

Posted by – December 4, 2023

Dear Colleagues, 

We are pleased to announce the publication of Volume 52 of Composition Forum, now available at:

This issue includes the following features:

·       An interview on play and mindfulness with Jackie Rhodes

·       A retrospective on Janet Emig’s The Composing Processes of Twelfth Graders and the “composing aloud” method

·       Six articles addressing topics including mêtis in the composition classroom, circulation and virality, narrative writing assignments, peer feedback and transfer, graduate student instructors engaging in reflective writing, and the impact of a custom common textbook in FYW

·       Two program profiles describing the English Language Learner Writing Center (ELLWC) at Miami University and the Science Communication (SciComm) Undergraduate Writing Minor at the University of California, Santa Barbara

·       Three book reviews: Behind the Curtain of Scholarly Publishing: Editors in Writing Studies (Giberson, Schoen, and Weisser, 2022), Our Body of Work: Embodied Administration and Teaching (Nicolas and Sicari, 2022), and Toward an Anti-Capitalist Composition (Rushing, 2022)

Thanks for taking time to read this volume of Composition Forum, and we welcome your suggestions and comments!

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Composition Forum Call for Applications: Review Editors

Posted by – October 23, 2023

Composition Forum: A Journal of Pedagogical Theory in Rhetoric and Composition seeks a Review Editor or team of Review Editors to replace the outgoing editors. The Review Editor solicits book reviews and review essays, offers editorial feedback and revision suggestions to review authors, makes publication decisions about potential reviews, and helps to format reviews for two regular issues per year. Duties also include maintaining contact with publishers to obtain new titles, ensuring that review authors receive copies of texts, and participating in online editorial meetings. The incoming editor will shadow the current Review Editors for one production cycle. Teams of two editors are encouraged, though individuals are also welcome to apply.  

Please submit a CV and an email describing your qualifications and vision/goals for the Reviews section of Composition Forum to Christian Weisser ( Review of applicants will begin on November 15, 2023.

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Vol. 51 of Composition Forum now available!

Posted by – May 9, 2023

Dear Colleagues, 

We are pleased to announce the publication of Volume 51 of Composition Forum, now available at:

This issue includes the following features:

·       Six articles addressing topics including interest convergence at Hispanic-Serving Institutions, graduate student mentorship, writing transfer, transdisciplinary collaboration, spatial metaphors of transfer, and attention to language.   

·       Two program profiles describing the Rhetoric and Composition minor at the College of the Holy Cross and the First-Year Composition program at the University of Central Florida.

·       Three book reviews: PARS in Practice: More Resources and Strategies for Online Writing Instructors (Borgman and McArdle, 2021), Privacy Matters: Conversations about Surveillance within and beyond the Classroom (Beck and Hutchinson Campos, 2021), Reading and Writing Instruction in the Twenty-First Century: Recovering and Transforming the Pedagogy of Robert Scholes (Carillo, 2021).

Thanks for taking time to read this volume of Composition Forum, and we welcome your suggestions and comments! 

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Vol. 50 of Composition Forum now available!

Posted by – December 16, 2022

Dear Colleagues, 

We are pleased to announce the publication of Volume 50 of Composition Forum, now available at:

This issue includes the following features:

·       A retrospective on the fifty-year anniversary of Donald M. Murray’s “Teach Writing as a Process Not Product”

·       Six articles addressing topics including mindfulness and metacognition, emotion and multimodal composing, responding for transfer, multimodal pedagogy for multilingual students, a trauma-informed approach to writing program administration, and self-efficacy

·       Two program profiles describing the Writing Center at Southern University’s Baton Rouge campus and the Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design (RCID) PhD program at Clemson University

·       Six book reviews: The Hidden Inequities of Labor-Based Contract Grading (Carillo, 2021), Rhetorics of Overcoming: Rewriting Narratives of Disability and Accessibility in Writing Studies (Hitt, 2021), Race, Rhetoric, and Research Methods (Lockett, Ruiz, Sanchez, Carter, 2021), Teaching Critical Reading and Writing in the Era of Fake News (Carillo and Horning, 2020), Composition and Big Data (Licastro and Miller, 2021), Literacy and Pedagogy in an Age of Misinformation and Disinformation (Lockhart, Glascott, Warnick, Parrish, Lewis, 2021)

Thanks for taking time to read this volume of Composition Forum, and we welcome your suggestions and comments!

Vol. 49 of Composition Forum now available!

Posted by – September 15, 2022

We are pleased to announce the publication of Volume 49 of Composition Forum, a special issue on the discourse-based interview guest edited by Neil Baird and Bradley Dilger. You can access the special issue here:

Thanks for taking time to read this issue, and we welcome your suggestions and comments!

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Call for Proposals for a Special Issue of Composition Forum: “Contemplative and Mindful-Based Pedagogies for Writing Ourselves and the World”

Posted by – July 11, 2022

Guest editors: Paula Mathieu, Boston College, and Angela Muir, Boston College

Amid another academic year shaped by the pandemic, a crumbling economy, and a critical human rights movement, professors struggle to align to a pedagogy that is both supportive and rigorous. The latest Healthy Minds survey shows that mental health issues such as anxiety and depression are at a record high of 47% among students, and an outstanding number of those students are reaching out to their professors for support. In a recent roundtable at Boston College on Trauma-Informed Contemplative Pedagogies, Professor Oh Myo Kim (CDEP, LSEHD) responded, “Class time is not therapy, but can be therapeutic.” Resources on contemplative pedagogies and contemplative practices have been increasingly highlighted in higher education. 

Contemplative practices (also sometimes referred to as mindfulness or awareness practices) in the classroom are getting headlines because they help students increase focus, calm their sympathetic nervous systems, and address the sense of overwhelm experienced within the wake of an ongoing global pandemic, increased attention to escalating racial violence, shifts between online and in-person learning, and intensifying climate disasters. Certainly, writers and their instructors need to be able to cultivate a calm presence in order to work, trust, and learn together. In addition, as this special issue will argue, contemplative pedagogies represent an important intervention in this current moment, not only to help equip individuals with greater resilience, but as a vital tool to help people engage the hard work of racial reckoning, engaging political differences, and healing our planet. In other words, we see contemplative pedagogy as a way to help writing achieve the transformative potential that composition theorists (Berlin, Trimbur, Schor) have long advocated.

This special issue of Composition Forum will address the what, why, how, and why now of contemplative writing pedagogy, while tracing its long roots within the history composition and writing studies:

  • How do we define contemplation and what are the assumptions, traditions and ideas underlying its many pedagogies?
  • What do contemplative pedagogies aim for? What do they accomplish? How do they contribute to other writing pedagogies?
  • Why and how might one adopt contemplative approaches to writing? What are the theoretical, neuroscientific, and writerly reasons to explore contemplative pedagogies?
  • Why do contemplative pedagogies seem especially urgent in this historical moment? How can contemplative approaches help support anti-racist, anti-ablist, and environmental approaches to writing instruction?

This issue will build upon and extend the argument Robert Yagelski made in Writing as a Way of Being (2011), which contends that writing instruction in secondary and post-secondary schools fails to live up to its progressive promises, despite advances in pedagogical theories.  He argues that “conventional writing instruction and assessment continue to operate on the assumption that writing is a sometimes challenging but relatively straightforward conduit for meaning” (24). Even social and post-process theories, argues Yagelski, fall short of their radical potential because of a tacit embrace of Cartesian dualism, which posits the self as an autonomous being, the world as separate and knowable from the knower, and language as a relatively unproblematic conduit for thought (45).  

Contemplative pedagogies aim to help students see writing as part of how we learn to be in the world, as a tool for living, and as a collaborative means of shared inquiry toward intersubjective truth, both within educational settings and without.

The nature of contemplative practice is fluid, so we are open to creative and experimental forms. In addition to scholarly articles, we are interested in interviews, personal reflections, book reviews, and course designs. 

You are welcome to submit a proposal of 250 to 500 words, final drafts should be between 2500 to 6000 words. Send all submissions to


Proposals: September 1, 2022

Drafts: January 1, 2023

Feedback Distributed: March 2023

Final Drafts: May 1, 2023

Paula Mathieu is an Associate Professor of English at Boston College and director of the university’s First-Year Writing program. She has been speaking and publishing about mindfulness and contemplative pedagogies since 2013. She is the 2021 recipient of the Coalition for Community Writing Engaged Scholar Award.

Angela Muir holds a BA from the University of Michigan and an MFA from Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School. She is a 200 RYT in Hatha and Tantra from the Hawaii School of Yoga and has taught yoga, meditation, yoga philosophy and creative writing courses in San Francisco and Seattle. She is currently a graduate student and teaching fellow at Boston College pursuing research on contemplative pedagogies.

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Vol. 48 of Composition Forum now available!

Posted by – May 11, 2022

Dear colleagues,

We are pleased to announce the publication of Volume 48 of Composition Forum, now available at:

This issue includes the following features:

·       An interview with Asao B. Inoue and Mya Poe

·       Six articles addressing topics including disability and accessibility, problem-exploring in first-year writing, hybrid and online peer review, work-integrated learning and writing transfer, long-term writing development, and gestural listening

·       A program profile describing the Faculty Writing Fellows program at Curry College

·       Two book reviews: Institutional Literacies: Engaging Academic IT Contexts for Writing and Communication (Selber, 2020), English Studies Online: Programs, Practices, and Possibilities (Banks and Spangler, 2021)

Thanks for taking time to read this volume of Composition Forum, and we welcome your suggestions and comments!

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Call for Fall 2022 Book Reviews

Posted by – March 1, 2022

Hello, all!

Composition Forum is now soliciting traditional or multimodal book reviews for our Fall 2022 issue and upcoming issues. We encourage you to widely distribute this call to your graduate programs and professional networks. If you or your students are interested, please email us at by Monday, April 11, 2022.

Composition Forum publishes reviews of books, websites, and other texts that may be of interest to teachers and scholars of writing. Single reviews are generally 1500 words, and review essays are approximately 2500 words. Multimodal reviews are also encouraged and might include podcasts or video-based reviews. What follows is a list of books currently available for review (please note that some of these titles are available in PDF or hard-copy form, depending on the publisher):

●      Rhetorics of Overcoming: Rewriting Narratives of Disability and Accessibility in Writing Studies by Allison Harper Hitt

●      PARS in Practice, edited by Jessie Borgman & Casey McArdle.

●      Literacy and Pedagogy in an Age of Misinformation and Disinformation, edited by Tara Lockhart, Brenda Glascott, Chris Warnick, Juli Parrish, and Justin Lewis

●      Translingual Pedagogical Perspectives: Engaging Domestic and International Students in the Composition Classroom, edited by Julia E. Kiernan, Alanna Frost & Suzanne Blum Malley

●      Effective Teaching of Technical Communication: Theory, Practice, and Application, edited by Michael J. Kleins

●      Reading and Writing Instruction in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Ellen C. Carillo

●      Composition and Big Data, edited by Amanda Licastro and Benjamin M. Miller

●      Update Culture and the Afterlife of Digital Writing by John R. Gallagher

●      Postprocess Postmortem, by Kristopher M. Lotier

●      Working with and against Shared Curricula: Perspectives from College Writing Teachers and Administrators, edited by Connie Kendall Theado and Samantha NeCamp

●      English Studies Online: Programs, Practices, Possibilities, edited by William P. Banks and Susan Spangler

●      Pedagogical Perspectives on Cognition and Writing, edited by J. Michael Rifenburg, Patricia Portanova, and Duane Roen

●      Teaching Critical Reading and Writing in the Era of Fake News, edited by Ellen C. Carillo Alice S. Horning

●      Engaging Research Communities in Writing Studies: Ethics, Public Policy, and Research Design, by Johanna Phelps

●      English Across the Curriculum: Voices from Around the World, edited by Bruce Morrison, Julia Chen, Linda Lin, and Alan Urmston

●      Privacy Matters: Conversations about Surveillance within and beyond the Classroom, edited by Estee Beck & Les Hutchinson Campos

●      Digital Writing: A Guide to Writing for Social Media and the Web, by Daniel Lawrence

●      Teaching Writing through the Immigrant Story, edited by Heather Ostman, Howard Tinberg, and Danizete Martínez

●      Civic Engagement in Global Contexts: International Education, Community Partnerships, and Higher Education, edited by Jim Bowman and Jennifer deWinter

●      Race, Rhetoric, and Research Methods, by Alexandria Lockett, Iris D. Ruiz, James Chase Sanchez, and Christopher Carter

●      The Hidden Inequities in Labor-Based Contract Grading, by Ellen C. Carillo

You are also welcome to propose a book not on this list but that aligns with Composition Forum’s scope of interest. We will review responses and select reviewers as soon as possible. Fall 2022 issues reviews are due in late July 2022. Please let us know if you have any questions!


Jackie Hoermann-Elliott and Rachel Daugherty