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Composition Forum 37, Fall 2017

From the Editors

Christian Weisser, Mary Jo Reiff, and Anis Bawarshi

This volume reflects Composition Studies’ unique location in time and space. As a field, we have a recognizable history with established, nearly canonized texts, authors, and themes. Yet at the same time, the field continues to develop and produce new conversations, new themes, and new ways of looking at the relationship between the theory and practice of writing. Volume 37 brings together the established and the innovative to provide distinctive insights into our field’s past, present, and potential futures.

The volume begins with an interview with one of the field’s most established and highly-lauded theorists and practitioners. In Forty Years and More: Reminiscences with Sharon Crowley, a group of interviewees take Sharon Crowley’s CCCC Exemplar Award as a kairotic moment to ask her to revisit her work and reflect on some valuable lessons she learned about what it means to be a teacher, writer, and rhetorician. The interview addresses Crowley’s journey as a teacher and scholar, draws upon the contemporary politics of rhetoric in the public sphere, and looks ahead to the future of rhetorical study. We are thrilled to share this interview with 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 volume also includes a retrospective on a landmark concept in writing studies. In The Concept of Discourse Community: Some Recent Personal History, John Swales reflects on the “discourse community” concept’s origins and its recent re-emergence as a key theme. Swales introduces the piece in the introduction, which then leads to a reprint of a rumination originally published in 2016—and reprinted here with permission—from the French journal ASp. Readers familiar with Swales’ work on discourse communities will find this to be a compelling extension and modification on this concept that so heavily influenced writing and rhetorical scholarship over the years.

The volume features six articles addressing the intersections of theory and pedagogy in writing studies, and these articles also bring together the past, present, and future of the field in unique ways. Aaron Beveridge’s Writing through Big Data: New Challenges and Possibilities for Data-Driven Arguments makes the case that writing studies must confront the new challenges and possibilities emerging from data mining, data visualization, and data-driven arguments. Drawing on research and a newly developed course, Beveridge suggests that students’ experiences of data visualization and data-driven arguments are far more diverse than the phrase data literacy suggests. In Dwelling in the Ruins: Recovering Student Use of Metaphor in the Posthistorical University, Daniel P. Richards argues that the field of Rhetoric and Composition has long harnessed the active potential of metaphor to change its own practices but has considerably overlooked student use of metaphor—a particularly urgent oversight given the metaphorical battleground that constitutes the discourse of contemporary higher education. In Co-Constructing Writing Knowledge: Students’ Collaborative Talk Across Contexts, co-authored by Misty Anne Winzenried, Lillian Campbell, Roger Chao, and Alison Cardinal, the authors recognize that student talk plays an important role in learning to write, while also suggesting that there is limited understanding of how students use conversational moves to collaboratively build knowledge about writing across contexts. Their article reports on a study of focus group conversations involving first-year students in a cohort program. Angela Rounsaville’s Worlding Genres through Lifeworld Analysis: New Directions for Genre Pedagogy and Uptake Awareness addresses the concept of “lifeworld analysis” and its implications for the study of genre uptake. Rounsaville suggests that lifeworld analysis shows the porousness and malleability of spheres of writing activity as well as the consequences of such perceived malleability for writers. In Genre, Reflection, and Multimodality: Capturing Uptake in the Making, Jaclyn M. Fiscus also draws upon the concept of genre uptake. Her piece follows the composition processes of 13 students doing a remixing assignment, thereby examining how genre mediates reflection. D. Shane Combs’ Queering Time and Space: Donald Murray as Introvert Whisperer draws upon the work of another landmark scholar in the field—Donald Murray—asserting that some writers thrive best in small group or one-to-one interpersonal relations. Combs argues that there are issues of identity and social justice for those who find themselves on the temperamental margins in composition and in a western society that has an extrovert ideal.

The three program profiles in this volume address student cognition and its assessment at three different institutions. They include Cultivating Change from the Ground Up: Developing a Grassroots Programmatic Assessment by Maria Conti, Rachel LaMance, and Susan Miller-Cochran; New Jersey City University’s College of Education Writing Assessment Program: Profile of a Local Response to a Systemic Problem by Audrey Fisch; and Getting ‘Writing Ready’ at the University of Washington: Developing Metacognition at a Time of Academic Transition by Jennifer Eidum Zinchuk. If you’d like to propose a profile of your institution’s program, please send a query to our program profile editors.

Volume 37 includes three reviews of important new scholarly books, and we hope these reviews enable you to select your reading choices in an ever-expanding body of literature in the field. This volume includes a Review of Kelly Susan Bradbury’s Reimagining Popular Notions of American Intellectualism: Literacy, Education, Class by Ryan Skinnell; a Review of Nichole E. Stanford’s Good God but You Smart!: Language Prejudice and Upwardly Mobile Cajuns by Amanda Sladek; and a Review of Bruce Horner, Brice Nordquist, and Susan M. Ryan’s Economies of Writing: Revaluations in Rhetoric and Composition by Cynthia Johnson. Please send review queries—not unsolicited manuscripts—to our review editor.

Composition Forum also welcomes queries and nominations for retrospectives, which provide a space for authors of influential articles or books to revisit and reflect on their earlier ideas and dialogue with others in the field about how their ideas have changed since publication. Please send Retrospective queries or nominations to the Retrospectives editor.

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 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 37 table of contents.