Focus on Writing: What College Students Want to Know
English and Modern Languages, PLV
What is the central theme of your book?
It's an inquiry-based textbook for first year writing courses that has students build expertise by actively engaging in writing studies research.
What inspired you to write this book?
I've been involved in an approach to teaching first year composition called "Writing About Writing (WAW)." Broadview Press contacted me to work on a WAW textbook after reading a review I published in the journal Composition Forum. I was excited about the project because it combines my teaching experiences and an area of my research.
Why is this book important in your field? What does it contribute to the current body of knowledge on its topic?
First year composition classes are supposed to help students write in ways that will transfer to new situations. Such transfer is much more likely to occur when students a) learn what writing scholars know about writing and b) contribute to scholarly conversations about writing beliefs and practices.
Were students involved in any research related to your book? If so, please explain and name the student(s).
Yes! Aleeza Laskowski and Jessie Cannizzo each contributed an essay to the textbook that they had originally written for an honors ENG 120 class with me. Aleeza's essay is about ways of thinking about education and motivation. Jessie's essay analyzes the way conflict in the Clean Eating community is manifested through discursive patterns that tend to leave the conflicts unresolved. I also told a story about the digital project of Caroline Migliaro that she completed in a CAP section of ENG 110 with me. The story is about Caroline feeling unsure of her composing choices until she thought about an audience and purpose for the digital project. Finally, Callie Anderson is a first year Pace student who is also my daughter, and I tell several stories about her writing habits. She also contributed a picture of her writing process, described in the next question.
Tell me about a particularly special moment in writing this book.
I've talked a lot about writing with my daughter, Callie Anderson (Pace '22), and I asked her to make a picture depicting her writing process. I also made a picture of my writing process. Both are included in the textbook with the goal of modeling how linear ways of representing a writing process tend to be oversimplified. Writing tends to be a messy process, with moments of frustration being common--not something to fear but rather a sign that you are getting somewhere. The pictures are also intended to model how important it can be to reflect on our own writing processes and how strategies that are useful in one situation may not be as useful in another situation.
What is the one thing you hope readers take away from your book?
I hope students have a greater sense of their own expertise in writing and a willingness to continue developing that expertise.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your book?
Students are writing more now than they ever have. Rather than discounting texting and social media communication as problems, it makes sense to recognize the ways students learn about motivation, purpose, audience, medium, and rhetorical context in these real-world situations. These are lessons to recognize and build upon as students work on developing long-form complex arguments. One way we instructors can support student learning is by providing opportunities for students to write for authentic audiences with a purpose. Meaningful writing matters more, not just to students, but to all of us.
What other books have you had published?
This is my first book. I've been working on a book manuscript titled Slut Rhetoric: Social Media, Pop Culture, and Politics. I've published on feminist rhetoric and writing pedagogy in journals such as Peitho, Feminist Media Studies, and Women's Studies Quarterly.
When did you join Dyson? 2016.