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Composition Forum 43, Spring 2020

From the Editors: Volume 43

Christian Weisser and Greg Giberson

The Spring of 2020 has been a chaotic and often frightening time for many of us. The COVID-19 Pandemic has created incalculable health and financial challenges across the globe, and as of May 2020, we face uncertainty about how the world will address these complex problems. We look to medical, political, and financial leaders for solutions, but the discursive landscape is filled with conflicting advice, misinformation, faulty speculation, and conspiracy. As educators, we face similar uncertainties and confusion as we adapt to online classrooms, Zoom meetings, and ambiguity about how, or even if, we will conduct research and teach in future semesters. Many of us feel it is difficult or impossible to continue sustained effort in our teaching and research in the face of this crisis.

While all of this is incredibly troubling, it also highlights the indispensability of our work in rhetoric and composition. Our field’s research, at its essence, is intended to clarify how and why individuals, groups, and organizations communicate and to elucidate the role of language and writing in shaping our world. Those of us who study writing and rhetoric may be in a good position to analyze the multitude of voices, information, and opinions surrounding the pandemic, and we will certainly see rhetorical studies of our current time in the years to come. Likewise, our responsibility to students has never seemed clearer—their very lives may depend on their ability to understand and make sense of the complex and conflicting discourse and information about this global health crisis, and our role in helping them to develop as critical thinkers, interpreters, and communicators of information is significant. We hope that the work published here in Composition Forum contributes, in some small way, to our collective understanding of rhetoric and writing, and as a result better equips all of us in thinking, communicating, and acting in safe, responsible, and informed ways. The editors at Composition Forum encourage you to “press on” with your important work in teaching and research, despite new challenges.

Volume 43 of Composition Forum includes a range of pieces that contribute to our understandings of rhetoric and writing, both as a theoretical concept and as a practical activity. The volume begins with an interview with Lad Tobin, Associate Professor at Boston College. In On The Creative-Nonfiction of Composition and Rhetoric: An Interview with Lad Tobin interviewer Michael Michaud talks to Tobin about his career and work in composition and rhetoric, his commitment to the teaching of writing, including and especially personal or expressive writing, and his arguments about the continued relevance of creative-nonfiction to composition. We are thrilled to share this important and engaging 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 that engage the intersections of theory and pedagogy in writing studies. Incorporating Visual Literacy in the First-Year Writing Classroom Through Collaborative Instruction by Erica Frisicaro-Pawlowski and Robert Monge proposes a model for collaboration between composition instructors and instructional librarians to promote visual literacy instruction in first-year writing courses. Chris Mays and Maureen McBride’s Learning from Interdisciplinary Interactions: An Argument for Rhetorical Deliberation as a Framework for WID Faculty argues that a systematic approach to WAC/WID work that conceptualizes interdisciplinary interaction as a deliberative argument (rather than a benign collaboration) benefits all aspects of a WAC/WID program, in particular projects involving writing and other disciplinary faculty. In Rhetorically-grounded Paraphrasing Instruction: Knowledge Telling versus Transforming Nisha Shanmugaraj, Joanna Wolfe, and Sophie Wodzak argue for an approach to source use instruction that teaches paraphrase as a spectrum of task-dependent rhetorical skills ranging from knowledge telling to knowledge transforming. Knowing Students and Hearing Their Voices in Writing: Reconciling Teachers’ Stated Definitions of Voice with Their Response Practices by Ann N. Amicucci and Michelle E. Neely explores the field’s use of the term “voice” as describing writers’ subject positions within the texts and contexts in which they compose. In doing so, the authors represent the tensions that prior work has identified within the construct of voice. J. Michael Rifenburg’s Student-Athletes’ Metacognitive Strategy Knowledge reports findings from a single-bounded case study on student-athletes’ performance of what educational psychologist Yves Karlen refers to as metacognitive strategy knowledge (MSK) in two first-year composition assignments. And Lilian Mina’s Technology Professional Development of Writing Faculty: The Expectations and the Needs explores technology professional development (TPD) of writing faculty, arguing that the institutional responsibility to provide robust TPD opportunities is not only professional but ethical. If you have questions or comments about the articles in this volume, or wish to propose an article, contact Managing Editor Greg Giberson.

This volume offers two program profiles addressing the intersection between writing theory and pedagogy. Navigating New Pathways, Partnerships, and Policies: The Dual Credit First-Year Composition Program at Texas Woman’s University by Katie McWain and Amanda Oswalt offers insights from an established dual credit first-year composition program, focusing in particular on the preparation and professional development of high school instructors who deliver college writing curriculum through an embedded partnership.

And Reading and Writing Diversity: Scaffolding and Assessing a Common Reader Initiative at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Writing Program by Jennifer Stewart and Halley Andrews describes the integration of a diversity-themed common reader used in a first-year experience program into a first-year composition program. If you’d like to propose a profile of your institution’s program, please send a query to our program profile editors Ashley Holmes and Faith Kurtyka.

The Reviews section includes a Review of Marilyn M. Cooper’s The Animal Who Writes: A Posthumanist Composition by Jason Crider; a Review of John Duffy’s Provocations of Virtue: Rhetoric, Ethics, and the Teaching of Writing by Brittany Capps; and a Review of Shirley K. Rose and Irwin Weiser’s The Internationalization of US Writing Programs by Romaisha Rahman. Please send review queries—not unsolicited manuscripts—to our review editor Sean Morey.

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 follow us on Twitter @Comp_Forum for regular updates and relevant news. Readers can also send questions or comments about the Composition Forum website to Website Editor Kevin Brock at General inquiries about the journal can be sent to Editor Christian R. Weisser.

Return to Composition Forum 43 table of contents.