Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation
Main content start

Rhetoric from the Field: Readings for September Sessions 2022

open books on top of a table

The articles featured in this issue's Rhetoric from the Field have been selected as foundational pieces for this year's September Sessions. 

Core readings for September Sessions

These two short pieces speak to our experiences in the classroom last spring, from both the instructor and the student perspectives, including some reflection on take-aways for the start of a new academic year. 

Beth McMurtie, “Last Year Was Miserable: Can Colleges Make This One Better?” Chronicle of Higher Education July 27, 2022. 

  • This article provides a national perspective on the struggles that university students – and instructors – experienced in spring 2022, while offering some suggestions for a more productive and balanced return to the classroom this fall.

Ziv, Nadav. “I was so stressed that I was thankful to catch COVID. Yes, I have a problem.  And I’m not alone.San Francisco Chronicle July 15, 2022. 

  • Former OCT, Boothe Prize Honorable Mention recipient, and Stanford alum Nadav Ziv provides a student perspective on the stressors currently experienced by many pandemic-era undergraduates.

Choose your own adventure (CYOA) Readings

The readings that follow engage with a variety of topics that intersect with our core pedagogy, inviting us to think about the topics in relation to our own teaching practice.  We're inviting each lecturer to read at least one of these pieces in preparation for September Sessions. We'll then engage in conversation around them in small groups, reflecting on how the texts help us re-think our pedagogy and -- connecting to the core readings -- how it might enrich our discussions about classroom community and our place in it. 

Ahmed, Sara. “Making Feminist Points.” Feminist Killjoys.  September 11, 2013. 

  • In this blog post, feminist scholar Sara Ahmed builds off of the politics of citation to make a larger claim about who is included, and who is excluded, from academic disciplines and conversations. Ahmed speaks to her own experience as an academic in both classroom and research spaces. She also includes an excerpt from her book On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life where she argues that “we need feminist and anti-racist critique because we need to understand how it is that the world takes shape by restricting the forms in which we gather.”

Daniel, James Rushing. “Freshman Composition as a Precariat Enterprise.” College English 80.1 (2017): 63-85. Web. 6 Sept. 2017. 

  • This article focuses on us, teachers of composition, and the way in which our social and institutional positioning shapes the teaching or writing. It starts by recognizing that social class is a key consideration, but the author insists that there is more social diversity among teachers of composition that prior research recognized.  In particular, James Daniel wants us to think about the way in which precarity helps us “state of tremendous uncertainty that now attends our profession” (65). The article offers a deep dive into theories of precarity and the author then provides a series of three ways in which the theory of precarity can shape our teaching and the classroom experience in productive ways.

Driscoll, Dana and Wenqi Cui. “Visible and Invisible Transfer: A Longitudinal Investigation of Learning to Write and Transfer across Five Years.” College Composition and Communication. 73.2 (Dec 2021): 229-260.  

  • This article traces out how the transfer of writing knowledge, skills and strategies from first-year writing courses over their college career by 14 students. While there have been many studies of writing transfer this one is useful because it focuses on transfer across 5-years and because it distinguishes between visible and invisible transfer. A key claim of the article is that even when writing transfer is happening it is often invisible to students—they don’t recognize that they are using the tools and knowledge they acquired in the FYW course.  The authors claim that 78% of the writing transfer that does happen for students is invisible to them (230). The article provides a close analysis of the experience of one student—James—before summing up their findings across the entire cohort of 14 students and 78 interviews plus various writing samples. This article raises many questions for our program and our teaching practices surrounding how we facilitate writing transfer and help students recognize their own learning and development as writers.

Howell, N. G., Navickas, K., Shapiro, R., Shapiro, S., & Watson, M. (2020, June). “Embracing the perpetual ‘but’in raciolinguistic justice work: When idealism meets practice” from the special issue, “Promoting Social Justice for Multilingual Writers on College Campuses”. Composition Forum, Vol. 44 (June 2020). 

  • From the editors (including JJ and Norah) of this special issue: “In an innovative interactive and multimodal piece, Nicole Gonzales Howell, Kate Navickas, Rachael Shapiro, Shawna Shapiro and Missy Watson share moments of conflicts and tensions, or the “the perpetual but” in their raciolinguistic justice work, in their own institutional contexts. More specifically, the authors reflect on how they negotiated with complex ideological and material constraints in their work with students of color, writing center tutors, pre-service teachers, faculty in the department and across campus, given each of their own positionalities.”  

May, Amy and Kelly E. Tenzek. “Bullying in the academy.” Teaching in Higher Education: Critical Perspectives. 23.3 (2018): 275-290. 

  • Author-supplied abstract: Bullying within academia often focuses on peer bullying or the student victim. However, the student bully who targets professors is a neglected area of study yet just as destructive, demeaning, and intimidating. Using a narrative lens analysis, the researchers share how the story of bullying unfolds in the classroom. Distinct triggers, such as entitlement or expectation management, mark the beginning of the narrative. As the narrative progresses, students display a variety of aggressive behaviors in an attempt to establish power or dominance over the targeted professor. The resulting academic contrapower harassment (ACPH) display may negatively impact the professor psyche, learning environment, and overall level of satisfaction with the professoriate, leaving a potentially open-ended narrative that impacts targeted professors for years to come. Thematic analysis reveals shared themes among targeted professors, indicating bullying is problematic on multiple levels. The findings suggest a lack of formal training and education while reinforcing the importance of peer networks.

Shapiro, Shawna. "Inclusive Pedagogy in the Academic Writing Classroom: Cultivating Communities of Belonging." Journal of Academic Writing 10.1 (2020). 

  • Author supplied abstract: This practice-oriented article considers two questions: What does higher education research tell us about student conceptions and experiences with inclusivity? What are the implications of this research for academic writing classrooms and curricula? I first review key themes and findings from research on the nature of social inclusion in higher education, including interviews conducted with undergraduates at my institution. I then consider how academic writing scholars have (and have not) taken up the concept of inclusivity within our policies, curricula, and instruction. Finally, I identify four areas we can focus on as a way to deepen our commitment to inclusive pedagogy: building community, inviting lived experience, preparing students for discomfort, and talking openly about equity. I conclude with examples of how I am working toward those goals in my own teaching practice.

Wood, Tara. “Cripping Time in the College Composition Classroom.” College Composition and Communication, 69.2 (2017): 260–86. 

  •  In this interview study with college students in composition classes, Wood utilizes a disability framework to argue that “Normative conceptions of time and production can negatively constrain student performance” (p. 206). She puts forth that one way to make classrooms more accessible is a reconceptualization of time. 

Yagelski, Robert P. “A Thousand Writers Writing: Seeking Change through the Radical Practice of Writing as a Way of Being.” English Education, 42.1 (October 2009): 6-28. 

  • Yagelski argues that writing instruction should center more on the experience of writing as a way of being to help students tap into the transformative possibilities of writing. First establishing writing as an ontological act through engaging with language theorists from MacLuhan to Derrida,  Yagelski argues that “school- sponsored” writing emphasizes texts and form too much and neglects the experience of writing itself. Rather than placing all of our focus on helping students write better texts, he argues, we should attend to the “power of writing to help us understand and transform ourselves—individually and together.”


More News Topics