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Composition Forum 29, Spring 2014

From the Editors

Christian Weisser and Mary Jo Reiff

In recent years, Composition Forum has published several themed “special issues” focusing on topics of importance in the field of rhetoric and composition. Our goal with these special issues is to allow authors and editors to create an extended conversation among scholars who share their interests, facilitating in-depth analysis and exploration of discrete, salient questions impacting the field. Our most recent special issue, Volume 28 (guest edited by Alexis Hart and Roger Thompson) addressed the subject of veterans and writing and was, to our knowledge, the first comprehensive inquiry into the role of writing and Post 9/11 veterans within writing studies. We were honored to provide a forum for this vital conversation, and we appreciate the many thoughtful expressions of appreciation and insight we’ve received from readers since its publication in Fall 2013. That volume joined two earlier themed issues: the Fall 2012 Volume 26, addressing Writing and Transfer (guest edited by Elizabeth Wardle) and the Spring 2006 Volume 15, focusing on Composition and Location (guest edited by Christopher Keller).

Those special issues have become a unique and important feature of this journal, and Michelle Ballif was largely responsible for their rigor, sophistication, and clarity. Michelle has played a vital role in Composition Forum’s development over the past decade, and we are sorry to announce that she has stepped down from Composition Forum to pursue other scholarly interests.We will miss Michelle’s sharp insights, careful attention to detail, and collegial energy. However, we are fortunate to have Mary Jo Reiff step in as Managing Editor. Mary Jo has been a Program Profile editor with Composition Forum since 2008, and she brings that experience with her in this new position. Mary Jo has already begun to implement new ideas into the journal, and we all look forward to seeing her vision unfold in the coming years.

This volume is not a “special issue”, though there is a great deal that is special about it. It was not created around a particular theme, though as we have seen in past issues, themes often emerge organically through the interactions and dynamic connections between the interviews, retrospectives, program profiles, articles, and reviews. The texts in Volume 29 suggest a broad theme, yet one that is at the heart of our field: the fundamental role that writing and texts play in our understanding of the world, and the ways in which writing serves as a primary agent of change. All of the texts in this volume--in fact, it could be argued of all texts in rhetoric and composition--are created in an effort to better understand and improve upon the many discursive and material worlds we inhabit. As scholars, we think, research, communicate, write, and respond for many reasons, yet an essential underlying reason for many of us is that we want to make the world a better place. We would do well to remember that basis for our work, and the various texts in Volume 29 provide a unique vantage point in that respect.

Volume 29 opens with a compelling interview with Cheryl Glenn, who discusses the emergence of feminist historiography and highlights the development and future of feminist rhetorical studies. Our featured Retrospective is from Sondra Perl, who revisits her groundbreaking 1979 article The Composing Processes of Unskilled College Writers. The articles in this volume address topics such as place-based education (Shepley), the methodology of sharing (Heard), LGBTQ representation in composition textbooks (Hudson), definitions of critical pedagogy (Thomson-Bunn), science writing tutoring (Kohn), embodied multimodality in football plays (Rifenburg), and the diaries and letters of an early 1900s college student (Rohan). The Program Profiles focus on the development of a WAC program at a small college (Bastian), the creation of a writing program in the midst of externally-imposed changes (Cripps and Robinson), and the evolution of a graduate writing program at a state university (Sundstrom). Book reviews include Jeff Rice’s Digital Detroit (Rohan), Gladstein and Regaignon’s Writing Program Administration at Small Liberal Arts Colleges (Long), and Arola and Wysocki’s Composing (Media) = Composing (Embodiment) (Palmeri). Collectively, these texts advance our understandings of writing and rhetoric as agents of comprehending and changing the worlds we inhabit.

We hope that our readers find this volume to be a useful contribution to their understandings of rhetoric and composition, and we welcome feedback about this issue and future issues at any time. We continue to use our blog to disseminate news and updates about the journal more quickly, and we encourage readers to contribute other timely and pertinent thoughts and information to the blog. Add our feed to your newsreader to receive alerts about new volumes of Composition Forum and other news from the field of rhetoric and composition. Please send questions or comments about the Composition Forum website to

Return to Composition Forum 29 table of contents.