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Composition Forum 25, Spring 2012

From the Editors

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Christian Weisser and Michelle Ballif

Volume 25 of Composition Forum highlights the ways in which composition studies continues to change and evolve—looking backward, forward, inside and out, as we seek a better understanding of writing and of our field’s current state and future directions. Though composition is just a few decades old, the complexity and diversity of its scholarship (and its scholars) seems to increase exponentially. This volume’s Feature Interview with Victor Villanueva points to the field’s development, as he reflects on more than thirty years in his various positions and locations as a compositionist. Villanueva chronicles the ways in which he has been both insider and outsider during composition’s development, revealing a great deal about the man and the discipline. Reflecting on his past and present, Villanueva writes: “I recognize the advantage I do have of my insiderness, and I use it to leave a trail that is deeply personal.” At the same time, he suggests that composition “continues to find its way … it’s a young field.”

The six articles in this volume provide a good example of this development, drawing upon composition’s history while moving the field forward in more sophisticated ways by incorporating new perspectives, methodologies, and subjects of study. Noah Roderick’s “Analogize This! The Politics of Scale and the Problem of Substance in Complexity-Based Composition” examines the assets and limits of drawing upon theories from the natural sciences, investigating “analogical invention” as a useful application of complexity-based theories outside of composition. In similar fashion, Kerry Dirk extends our view of writing by examining the research paper as an activity system rather than an isolated event in “The “Research Paper” Prompt: A Dialogic Opportunity for Transfer.” In “Feminist Composition Pedagogy and the Hypermediated Fractures in the Contact Zone,” Jessica Blackburn investigates identity politics in multimodal composition classrooms, suggesting we consider them as “hypermediated fractures,” by drawing upon feminist pedagogy and the teaching of digital literacies in first-year composition. Eric Leake examines the changing role of the journalist and the emergence of civic literacy in composition studies in his essay, “The Open Gates of the Fourth Estate: Civic Literacy Meets Citizen Journalism.” Paul Feigenbaum draws further attention to public discourse and civic literacy in “Challenging Rhetorics of Adaptation through Creative Maladjustment,” questioning the ideology of appeasement and compromise, arguing instead for a counterhegemonic rhetoric of activism and engagement. And Anne Balay and Karl Nelson’s “Placing Students in Writing Classes: One University’s Experience with a Modified Version of Directed Self Placement” offers new insights about how which students are placed into First Year Writing programs. Collectively, these articles encourage our field to expand our horizons to recognize the realities of contemporary discourse in an ever-changing society.

Writing programs offer a unique perspective on the ways in which our field is developing, and the two Program Profiles in the volume provide us with much to consider. Michelle Hall Kells’ “Welcome to Babylon: Junior Writing Program Administrators and Writing Across Communities at the University of New Mexico” addresses the ways in which junior writing program administrators can promote rhetorical action while advocating for ethno-linguistically diverse communities within and beyond the university. Daniel Sanford asks readers to reconsider the notion of a writing center in “The Peer-Interactive Writing Center at the University of New Mexico,” arguing for a better understanding of how such sites can support a collaborative, process-oriented pedagogy.

Books and textbooks remain an important means through which our field develops, and this volume’s review essay, “V is for Voices: Engaging Student Interest, Sustaining Student Thinking and Writing in Today’s Writing Classrooms with Fountainhead Press’s V Series,” addresses a new series of textbooks. Amy Mossman describes the ways in which Fountainhead’s new series might be used in sustainably-minded pedagogies, suggesting that there are “important links between sustainability pedagogy and writing transfer.” Other reviews include Margaret Price’s Mad at School: Rhetorics of Mental Disability and Academic Life (reviewed by Christina Fisanick) and Irvin Peckham’s Going North Thinking West: The Intersections of Social Class, Critical Thinking, and Politicized Writing Instruction (reviewed by Debra Frank Dew).

One of the most important new developments in composition studies addresses the ways in which writing-related skills transfer from composition classes to other contexts. To further explore this topic, Composition Forum will feature a Special Issue devoted to the subject of transfer. Guest Editor Elizabeth Wardle is currently creating Volume 26, which we hope to debut in Fall 2012. Stay tuned to our blog for further developments.

As our field changes and develops, so do our journal’s editors. Lori Salem has stepped down as a Review Editor, and we offer her our sincere thanks for her service to Composition Forum. Jeanne Rose currently serves as the journal’s Review Editor, and questions and inquiries about reviews should be sent to Website Editor Bradley Dilger will step down sometime next year from his pivotal role with Composition Forum to focus on other scholarly projects. Bradley has served as Website Editor since 2005, launching the first online volume of the journal, designing nearly every aspect of the website, and working closely with authors, editors, reviewers and readers at every step. We will miss Bradley’s valuable contributions to the journal, but we wish him the very best. Please see our call for applicants for this important position; we welcome applications or questions.

We will continue to use Composition Forum’s weblog to 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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