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Composition Forum 45, Fall 2020

From the Editors: Volume 45

Christian Weisser and Greg Giberson

In the midst of uncertainty as 2020 draws to a close and a new year begins, many of us turn to the familiar, the tangible, and the consistent things in our personal and professional lives to keep us grounded. Developing our knowledge of writing theory and pedagogy provides just such a foundation for many scholars and teachers in rhetoric and composition. We press on with our teaching and research, despite—and sometimes because of —the many uncertain and unfamiliar things we must deal with every day. Learning more about our craft is one thing we can control. Over the past year, many readers have expressed their appreciation for the consistently-focused scholarship published in Composition Forum, and their eager desire for each new volume. One reader noted that “I can count on useful articles and time well-spent reading CF, at a time when I can’t count on much else!” The editors of other journals that we talk to are hearing much of the same—a renewed gratitude among readers for the research they read, absorb, and implement through scholarly journals in rhetoric and composition. With that being said, we are pleased to introduce Volume 45 of Composition Forum, and we hope that it provides the same usefulness and value that our readers have come to expect from this journal.

The volume begins with An Interview with Íde O’Sullivan by Rachel Riedner. In this interview, Rachel Riedner and Íde O’Sullivan (University of Limmerick) discuss the context in Ireland that has motivated a shift to US process-based curricula and the emergence of Irish writing centers that incorporate both American-style WAC and WID elements. In doing so, Riedner and O’Sullivan make clear that such changes are the work and expertise of the dedicated faculty at the University of Limerick as well as a series of entangled, contemporaneous discourses. 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 Brian Bailie.

Volume 45 also features a Retrospective piece entitled, Audit of a Profession: The Virtues of (Very Belatedly) Meeting Ann E. Berthoff’s Challenge to Composition by Paige Davis Arrington and Keith Rhodes. This retrospective merges together Keith Rhodes’ unpublished Audit of a Profession article from the late 1990s with Paige Davis Harrington’s ongoing analysis of Ann E. Berthoff’s scholarship. We encourage readers to consider this unique retrospective, which brings together scholarly reflections spanning four decades in rhetoric and composition. If you have an idea for a Retrospective article, contact our Retrospectives Editor Elizabeth Wardle.

The volume features six articles that engage the intersections of theory and pedagogy in writing studies. Axiology and Transfer in Writing about Writing: Does It Matter Which Way We WAW? by John H. Whicker and Samuel Stinson examines the diverse approaches to “Writing About Writing” (WAW) pedagogy. The authors articulate a WAW typology using an axiological heuristic that non-reductively but clearly identifies variations of WAW as well as the values that underlie the differences among them. Kristen di Gennaro and Monika Ekiert’s Is Feedback on Grammar Harmful or Helpful? Questionable Answers and Unanswered Questions summarizes the arguments for and against grammar-related feedback on student writing and problematizes the results of previous research by describing a quasi-experimental study measuring the effects, both positive and negative, of such feedback. The authors conclude that while feedback on specific grammatical forms improved participants’ accuracy on those forms, it also led to decreased accuracy on other forms related to but not the focus of instruction. In Becoming Multilingual, Becoming a Teacher: Narrating New Identities in Multilingual Writing Teacher Education, Dorothy Worden-Chambers and Analeigh E. Horton examine how three prospective teachers from varied linguistic and cultural backgrounds constructed new identities through a multi-draft literacy autobiography project. The authors trace how these teachers’ identities changed and developed across the drafts of their literacy autobiographies, how their identity construction was mediated by the feedback they received, and how their language and literacy identities related to their emerging professional identities as prospective writing teachers. Addressing the Challenges and Opportunities of a Feminist Rhetorical Approach for Wikipedia-based Writing Instruction in First-Year Composition by Jialei Jiang and Matthew A. Vetter reports on a teacher research study designed to examine the efficacy of the feminist rhetorical approach for understanding critical literacy learning through Wikipedia-based assignments in First-Year Composition (FYC). Findings from student forum posts, surveys, and reflection essays suggest that, despite its benefits, the Wikipedia assignment has been met with challenges that hinder students from making contributions critically and effectively, especially as they struggle to assume agency and criticality in the FYC classroom. Kathryn Baillargeon’s Dissertation Boot Camps, Writing as a Doctoral Threshold Concept, and the Role of Extra-Disciplinary Writing Support seeks to answer two questions: what kinds of expertise are needed to lead an effective dissertation boot camp; and how can those outside the graduate student’s discipline support their writing? Drawing on four years of application data and post-camp interviews, Baillargeon reveals how writing process knowledge—similar to that described in the scholarship on first-year composition—is a fundamental reason dissertators seek help from the boot camps. And finally, Importing and Exporting across Boundaries of Expertise: Writing Pedagogy Education and Graduate Student Instructors’ Disciplinary Enculturation by Meridith Reed reports survey and interview research on how graduate student instructors (GSIs) across the United States navigate the boundaries of disciplinary expertise that define their work as students and teachers. The author suggests how writing pedagogy educators might reframe preparation experiences to recognize the disciplinary boundaries GSIs work across and to repurpose these boundaries as sites for richer professional development and writing instruction. 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 three program profiles addressing the intersection between writing theory and pedagogy. Considering Students’ Experiences with Disciplinary Tensions in our Program Development by Catherine Forsa, Brian Hendrickson, and Dahliani Reynolds describes the expansion of a minor in Professional and Public Writing (PPW) at Roger Williams University. Heuristic-Based Learning and Doctoral Preparation: Revising Georgia State University’s PhD Exam in Rhetoric and Composition by Ashley J. Holmes, Michael Harker, and Lynée Lewis Gaillet illustrates a restructure of the PhD exam intended to enhance graduate-level instruction and advisement within the Rhetoric and Composition program at Georgia State University. And Remaining Inclusive: Crisis Correspondence Packets for Student Completion of Spring 2020 (COVID19) Writing Courses by Catrina Mitchum, Rochelle Rodrigo, & Shelley Staples describes the process the Writing Program at the University of Arizona took to create a pathway to course completion for students during the pandemic-induced remote transition in Spring 2020. If you’d like to submit a Program Profile for consideration with Composition Forum, please contact Program Profiles Editors Ashley Holmes and Faith Kurtyka.

Volume 45 also features three timely and interesting book reviews: a Review of Suresh Canagarajah’s Transnational Literacy Autobiography as Translingual Writing by Thir Bahadur Budhathoki; a Review of Aneil Rallin’s Dreads and Open Mouths: Living/Teaching/Writing Queerly by Nick Marsellas; and a Review of Meaghan Brewer’s Conceptions of Literacy: Graduate Instructors and the Teaching of First-Year Composition by Emily Jo Schwaller. 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 and Facebook for regular updates and relevant news. Readers can contact our Communications Editor Shane Wood with any news or comments concerning CF social media. 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 45 table of contents.