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Composition Forum 30, Fall 2014

From the Editors: Volume 30

Christian Weisser and Mary Jo Reiff

Debates about theory and pedagogy are central to the field of composition studies. Our lengthening past is bound to classroom writing instruction, and our future scholarship will likely wrestle with the place of pedagogy, students, and teaching composition for years to come. In many ways, and as many scholars have suggested—both in this journal and in other venues—composition’s unique ties to pedagogy can be seen variously as a raison d’etre or as an impediment to professional legitimacy, disciplinary integrity, and the advancement of writing theory. Composition Forum does not seek to end those debates; in fact, the purpose of the journal has been and remains to be the dissemination of scholarship that “explores the intersections of composition theory and pedagogy.” Composition Forum began to address such questions nearly twenty-five years ago. The larger conversation (as well as its forms and formats within this journal) has evolved in that time, yet the relationship between theory and pedagogy remains a perennial topic in the field. This volume of Composition Forum continues to explore the junctures where composition theory and pedagogy meet and diverge. It contains sixteen scholarly texts of various types, and each contributes something different to our understandings of composition theory and pedagogy. We are pleased to carry on that discussion in this volume.

This volume’s feature interview with Gwendolyn Pough highlights a scholar whose work addresses the intersections of theory and pedagogy while at the same time drawing upon scholarship from other fields—most notably, women’s and gender studies. Interviewer Candace Epps-Robertson writes that “Pough’s work as a scholar and leader in both national and local levels is inspiration to many,” and we are thrilled to present this interview to our readers. If you’d like to propose or suggest an interview with a leading scholar in rhetoric and composition, contact our Interviews Editor.

The Retrospective article in this volume is written by Kevin Roosen, and it is entitled ‘Journalism, Poetry, Stand-Up Comedy, and Academic Writing: Mapping the Interplay of Curricular and Extracurricular Literate Activities’: Re-visiting a Theoretical Lens Five Years Later. The article is a follow-up to a piece first published in The Journal of Basic Writing in 2008, which described a five-year study of one undergraduate’s writing, focusing on the synergies between that student’s extracurricular journalism, poetry, and stand-up comedy and his literate activities for two courses during his initial semester at college. 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 Retrospectives Editor.

This volume includes seven new articles addressing composition theory and pedagogy. Embodied Censorship: Academic Writing Rituals and the Production of Belief by Edward Hahn explores the ways in which bodies, beliefs, and embodied censorship are dialectically, processually produced in everyday social-material practices, such as academic writing rituals. Collin Craig’s Speaking From Different Positions: Framing African American College Male Literacies as Institutional Critique explores Black male literacy practices as institutional critique at a large Midwestern land grant university, demonstrating how vernacular perspectives, language, and networking strategies are used for developing self-efficacy and critical literacies. In Beyond Pedagogy: Theorizing Without Teachers, Amy D. Williams proposes a shift to theorizing writing as a gerund (writing g.) rather than a noun or a verb, arguing that this approach opens a space for more productive composition theory. Jessica Yood’s Gateway to Complexity: The Adjacent Possible of Beginning Writing draws on a year-long ethnography of one FYC course to show how this course is a hospitable environment for genres that seek what Systems Biologist Stuart Kauffman calls “the adjacent possible.” In Battlegrounds and Common Grounds: First-Year Composition and Institutional Values, Patti Poblete offers strategies for administrators who struggle to contextualize their writing programs in institutional climates increasingly focused on recruitment and retention, rather than discipline and discovery. Writing Together: An Arendtian Framework for Collaboration by Jessica Restaino argues that Hannah Arendt’s concepts of plurality and natality are useful frameworks for thinking constructively and practically about teaching argumentative writing through collaboration. And Lori Beth De Hertogh’s Toward a Revised Assessment Model: Rationale and Strategies for Assessing Students’ Technological Authorship argues that we need to better understand how technologies are changing student compositions, thus driving the need to change our learning outcomes and assessment practices.

The three Program Profiles in this volume explore the intersections of composition theory and pedagogy, and they include Community through Collaborative Self-Reflection: Reports on a Writing Program History and Reunion at Stony Brook University by Peter H. Khost and Pat Belanoff; Composing a Curricular Circle: A WAC Program/Writing Center Embedded in Business by Caroline Dadas, Abby M. Dubisar, Denise Landrum-Geyer, and Kate Ronald; and A Force for Educational Change at Stetson University: Refocusing Our Community on Writing by Megan O’Neill.

This volume also offers our first “sonic” review. Kyle Stedman and Jonathan Stone’s Experiencing Ambience Together: A Sonic Review of Thomas Rickert’s Ambient Rhetoric: The Attunements of Rhetorical Being consists of a dynamic, loose conversation between two sound scholars enlivened with a number of musical and sonic clips that exemplify the spoken parts of the review. Other reviews in this volume include a Review of Pegeen Reichert Powell’s Retention and Resistance: Writing Instruction and Students Who Leave by Seth Kahn; a Review of Daniel Keller’s Chasing Literacy: Reading and Writing in an Age of Acceleration by Susanne Hall; and a Review of Lindal Buchanan’s Rhetorics of Motherhood by Angela Petit.

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