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Composition Forum 38, Spring 2018

From the Editors: Volume 38

Christian Weisser, Mary Jo Reiff, and Anis Bawarshi

This volume’s lead article draws upon the notion of evolution as it relates to writing studies, and we believe the concept of evolution, transformation, and growth provides a useful metaphor for CF 38 as a whole. While it may sound cliché, our field, like our society and culture as a whole, is going through a period of monumental transformation brought about by a variety of social, political, and technological factors. Scholarly publications allow us to identify, analyze, and in some ways, help to shape that transformation in meaningful and positive ways. The interviews, articles, program profiles, and reviews published in Volume 38 reflect that evolution. We recognize the importance of scholarly venues in shaping Writing Studies’ evolution and are pleased to contribute to it in this volume.

The volume begins with an interview with a scholar who has played an important role in Writing Studies’ evolution for several decades, most notably through her scholarship and advocacy on African American women’s rhetoric. In We Cannot Teach Composition in Isolation; Anything We Say is Culturally Shaped: An Interview with Shirley Wilson Logan, interviewer Nabila Hijazi helps to unpack Logan’s journey as a scholar; elucidates her work as chair of the Conference on College Composition and Communication and her sense of the field’s development; and draws on her evolving insights as an editor and administrator. We are thrilled to share this fascinating and thought-provoking 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 features six articles addressing the intersections of theory and pedagogy in writing studies, and these articles reflect the diverse evolution and transformation of our field in their own unique ways. Evolving Conceptions of Genre among First-Year Writing Teachers by Christine M. Tardy, Rachel Hall Buck, Madelyn Pawlowski, and Jennifer R. Slinkard traces the evolving conceptions of genre among thirty-three new first-year writing teachers, examining their understandings--and, occasionally, tensions--at different points in time as they encounter the concept of genre in their teacher preparation and in their work with their own students. Missy Watson and Rachael Shapiro’s Clarifying the Multiple Dimensions of Monolingualism: Keeping Our Sights on Language Politics calls for unified intention, progress, and action across the field to explicitly combat the monolingualist ideologies that they see upheld and perpetuated in composition classrooms and institutions of learning. In Teaching and Learning Threshold Concepts in a Writing Major: Liminality, Dispositions, and Program Design, R. Mark Hall, Mikael Romo, and Elizabeth Wardle reflect on writing curricula, writing centers, and one student’s progression through a series of learning experiences to consider what ongoing, deep learning of writing threshold concepts can look like, as well as how programmatic and pedagogical elements may afford and constrain such learning. Dan Fraizer’s Towards a Model of Building Writing Transfer Awareness across the Curriculum reflects on student responses to a series of reflective prompts before, during, and after completion of a major upper-division writing assignment, in an effort to better advance our understanding of threshold concepts and writing transfer. In The Politics of Academic Language: Towards a Framework for Analyzing Language Representations in FYC Textbooks, Alisa LaDean Russell argues that composition studies’ professional artifacts and pedagogical materials can perpetuate tacit ideologies about academic language that are in conflict with our field’s larger goals and movement toward social justice and inclusion in FYC. And finally, Mary K. Stewart’s Cognitive Presence in FYC: Collaborative Learning that Supports Individual Authoring further develops our understanding of the intersection of collaborative learning theory and practice by offering a “case study” qualitative investigation into the process of collaborating with peers and the extent to which peer interaction facilitates knowledge construction.

This volume’s program profile provides an example of the evolving relationship between writing instruction and general education. Lisbeth Chapin’s Implementing Writing Intensive Gen Ed Seminars at a Small, Catholic University explains the strategies and theories used to involve faculty across disciplines at Gwynedd Mercy University. If you’d like to propose a profile of your institution’s program, please send a query to our program profile editors.

Volume 38 includes three reviews of important new scholarly books, all of which reflect evolving theories and pedagogies in the field. The section includes a Review of James A. Herrick’s Visions of Technological Transcendence: Human Enhancement & the Rhetoric of the Future by Sid Dobrin; a Review of Nicole B. Wallack’s Crafting Presence: The American Essay and the Future of Writing Studies by Sandie Friedman; and a Review of Debra Hawhee’s Rhetoric in Tooth and Claw: Animals, Language, Sensation by Christopher Justice.

On the subject of reviews, the editors of Composition Forum express their deepest thanks and best wishes to Jeanne Rose, who is stepping down as Reviews Editor after nine years of service. Sean Morey has stepped in as our new Reviews Editor. We appreciate Jeanne’s service and look forward to seeing Sean’s continuation of this important work in the journal. 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 seminal 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.

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Return to Composition Forum 38 table of contents.