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Composition Forum 27, Spring 2013

From the Editors

Christian Weisser and Michelle Ballif

This volume of Composition Forum is our most expansive yet. It contains fifteen scholarly texts of various types, and each focuses on a different aspect of composition theory and pedagogy. In many ways, this expansiveness mirrors the field itself. One thing we notice about composition studies, in its current form, is the ways in which it draws upon, reflects, and analyzes diverse conversations and varied topics relating to writing and rhetoric. Taken as a whole, our scholarship incorporates both highly theoretical and decidedly pedagogical perspectives, and a wide range of discursive locations, topics, and situations are subject to our research and scrutiny. We are pleased to represent that diversity in this volume.

In fact, this volume of Composition Forum offers a newly established section (and a new Editor) as part of our commitment to representing composition studies in all of its incarnations, genres, forms, and contexts. Our first Retrospectives article was published in Volume 26, the purpose of which was to allow the author(s) of a seminal piece of composition scholarship to reflect upon and revisit their her work a few years down the road. That first Retrospectives article (written by Anne Beaufort) was one of the most frequently -viewed, cited, and remarked-upon pieces in the volume. Consequently, we are thrilled to present Elizabeth Wardle and Doug Downs’s retrospective of their article Teaching about Writing, Righting Misconceptions, along with our announcement that Elizabeth has stepped in as Composition Forum’s new Retrospectives Editor to make the section a regular feature. To learn more about the Retrospective section or to nominate an author or essay for the section, please visit our Submissions page. Please send Retrospectives queries or nominations to the the Retrospectives Editor.

This volume’s feature interview with Louise Wetherbee Phelps provides a unique perspective on the ways in which composition studies has developed and become more expansive over the past several decades. As interviewer Tanya Rodrigue writes, Phelps has “contributed to the construction and design of the discipline of composition and rhetoric at all stages, from its foundation in the 1970s to the eclectic dwelling in which we reside today.” This interview addresses her work creating a doctoral program in rhetoric and composition at Syracuse University, her efforts on behalf of the Visibility Project to bring recognition to the field of rhetoric and composition,; and her work with international writing programs.

This volume also includes seven new articles addressing composition theory and pedagogy. I. Moriah McCracken and Valerie A. Ortiz offer an analysis of student perceptions in a Writing–about–Writing course in Latino/a Student (Efficacy) Expectations: Reacting and Adjusting to a Writing-about-Writing Curriculum Change at an Hispanic Serving Institution. In What Does Your Money Get You?: Active Learning as an Alternative to Consumerism in the Composition Classroom, Faith Kurtyka employ’s Fredric Jameson’s concept of cognitive mapping to reveal the ways in which students position themselves as consumers within the university. Alison Carr’s In Support of Failure suggests that that failure is not simply a judgement or indication of rank but is a relational, affect-bearing concept with tremendous relevance to composition studies. In The Difficulties of Thinking Through Freewriting, Hannah Rule reexamines the role of freewriting in the composition classroom, arguing for a more nuanced, informed approach to the practice. In Material Affordances: The Potential of Scrapbooks in the Composition Classroom, Kara Poe Alexander demonstrates the pedagogical value of the scrapbook for how it encourages student composers to select, appropriate, and redesign external cover materials to communicate the message inside the book and how it emphasizes the haptic sense (touch). Nate Kreuter’s The Ethics of Clarity and/or Obscuration draws upon Kenneth Burke to examine the ethical tensions surrounding the common cultural and disciplinary demand that writers write “clearly.” And Erin Penner Gallegos presents a new lens for envisioning composition instruction by integrating the pedagogical approaches advocated in writing across- t the curriculum, genre-based-based curriculum approach, ecocomposition, and writing across communities theories theories in her Mapping Student Literacies: Reimagining College Writing Instruction within the Literacy Landscape.

The three Program Profiles in this volume are both intellectually and geographically expansive, and they include Elizabeth Wardle’s Intractable Writing Program Problems, Kairos, and Writing-about-Writing: A Profile of the University of Central Florida’s First-Year Composition Program; Jessie L. Moore, Kimberly B. Pyne, and Paula Patch’s Writing the Transition to College: A Summer College Writing Experience at Elon University; and Clancy Ratliff’s Local History, Local Complexities: The First-Year Writing Curriculum at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

This volume’s Reviews section evaluates texts that are intended as primarily pedagogical as well as those that approach writing from a deeply theoretical perspective. Margaret Munson’s review essay Sustaining Composition addresses the ecological and economical sustainability of new open-source textbooks, focusing specifically on the collaboratively written and edited Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing. Wendy Ryden and Ian Marshall’s Reading, Writing, and the Rhetorics of Whiteness (reviewed by Timothy Barnett) explores the intersections of pedagogy and theory, examining rhetoric, whiteness, and basic writing. And Sidney Dobrin’s Postcomposition (reviewed by John Pell) calls for a disassociation of writing theory from classrooms, students, and other pedagogical subjects. Taken as a whole, these reviews demonstrate a wide range of perspectives in the field.

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Return to Composition Forum 27 table of contents.