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Composition Forum 24, Fall 2011

From the Editors

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Christian Weisser and Michelle Ballif

As our subtitle suggests, Composition Forum is a journal of pedagogical theory in composition. As such, we seek manuscripts that examine pedagogical theories or that explore how theory informs or is elucidated through writing instruction or practice. In other words, we are particularly interested in work that addresses the intersections of theory and pedagogy, recognizing the important relationship between the two. While composition studies has many journals focusing on pedagogy, and quite a few that focus primarily on theory, we believe that this journal provides a unique vantage point for scholars interested in exploring how the two seemingly disparate perspectives intersect.

Because of this focus, we are particularly proud of the interview, articles, program profile, review essay, and reviews in Volume 24. Collectively, these contributions bridge the gap between theory and practice, each in a unique way. The Feature Interview with Jonathan Alexander is a good example of this intersection: it offers a sophisticated analysis of some of the most current theories of composition, while at the same time placing that analysis within Alexander’s unique perspective as a researcher, writing program administrator, and teacher. As Bre Garrett suggests, this interview with Alexander “contextualizes his published, professional work within behind-the-scenes details, influences, and personal scholastic commitments that have shaped his relationship with composition, how he defines writing, and how he theorizes and designs pedagogies.”

This volume’s three essays also bring together theories and pedagogies in composition. Eliot Rendleman’s “Balancing Act: Student Valuation and Cultural Studies Composition Textbooks” theorizes the ways in which composition textbooks function as tools in the classroom. Rendleman offers a theory of valuation, which he defines as “a linguistic and rhetorical process of assigning worth to students and textbook instructional apparatuses as student-readers might engage with the texts.” Peter Moe uses theories of ecocomposition and classical rhetoric to reveal parallels between the U.S. court system and first-year writers in university classrooms in his essay “Composition: Ecocomposition, Aristotle, and the First-Year Writing Course.” He suggests one primary benefit of this particular bridge between theory and pedagogy: that it is “grounded in argumentation, thereby promoting literacy for our students, whatever discourse community they enter.” Ian Barnard’s “Authorial Intent in the Composition Classroom” similarly brings together theory and pedagogy. Barnard examines authorial intent in critical theory and the ways in which it shapes, and sometimes fails to shape, composition textbooks and pedagogy. The essay suggests that “bracketing authorial intent in the composition classroom might enhance composition pedagogy and student writing, while also challenging fundamental epistemologies of the field.”

Composition Forum’s Program Profiles, by definition, address the intersections of theories and pedagogies in composition by examining how they function within various programs’ curricula. This volume offers two such profiles. The first, written by Paul Walker and Elizabeth Myers, describes the theories, goals, and assessment strategies used to revise the first-year writing requirement at Murray State University. As the authors suggest, “Utilizing Strategic Assessment to Support FYC Curricular Revision at Murray State University” describes the “reasons behind the revision and the process of its implementation, contextualizing the change within the background of the university and burgeoning writing program.” The second profile, entitled “The Technology Coach: Implementing Instructional Technology in Kean University’s ESL Program,” describes the intersections of technological theories and practices in ESL instruction. Authors Snyder, Best, Griffith, and Nelson “explain how they drew from principles of literacy coaching to develop and implement their model; describe their experiences in working with coaches; discuss technology plans, including instructional software and lessons; and reflect on the successes and challenges experienced by the faculty and students.”

All sorts of texts influence our field’s theoretical and pedagogical conversations, and Composition Forum is committed to evaluating scholarship in diverse forms and genres. To that end, we offer two reviews of non-conventional texts that meld theory and pedagogy: Michael J. Faris and Stuart A. Selber’s review essay on “E-Book Issues in Composition” and Laurie McMillan’s review of Elizabeth Wardle and Doug Downs’s Writing about Writing textbook—the first in our new series of textbook reviews. Faris and Selber explore the intersections of texts and technologies through their study of e-book devices in the composition classroom, while McMillan describes the ways in which Wardle and Downs’ textbook implements recent theories about writing as the central topic or focus in a composition classroom. We round these out with reviews of two recent scholarly works: Mark McBeth’s review of Howard Tinberg and Jean-Paul Nadeau’s The Community College Writer and Coretta M. Pittman’s review of Bruce Horner, Min Zhan-Lu, and Paul Kei Matsuda’s collection Cross-Language Relations in Composition.

As we announced in last month’s “From the Editors” column, we have adopted new software for the journal. We are using Open Journal Systems, a very popular web application which provides web-based management of submissions, peer review, and delivery of the journal. The move to OJS is helping us handle submissions more efficiently, since it provides tracking of the process from start to finish, and manages files via the web, rather than through email attachments. We are now able to ensure archives of Composition Forum are indexed more effectively. Given the move to OJS, we have updated our submissions page to reflect a few changes in the submission process. We will use our weblog to provide updates or answer questions which come up more than once for our readers, authors, or reviewers. Please send along your feedback about OJS at any time.

Our weblog will also help us disseminate news and updates about the journal more quickly. We encourage readers to contribute timely and pertinent information to the blog. Add our feed to your newsreader to receive alerts about new volumes of CF and other news from the field of rhetoric and composition. Please send questions or comments about the Composition Forum website to

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