FEN Blog Call for Submissions: Fake or fact? Teaching Writing in the Misinformation Age

In his Post-Truth Rhetoric and Composition, Bruce McComiskey asserts, ‘The fact is, rhetoric and composition have had the tools to combat post-truth rhetoric for years, and we, as a community of scholars and teachers, need to double-down on those tools’ (38). Living in the age of misinformation and fake news has put writing teachers in an uncomfortable space while also challenging us to adopt new ways of thinking about teaching rhetoric, research, and writing.  Since 2011, with the start of the birther movement by Donald Trump, his presidential election win in 2016, and the subsequent fallout of the spread of misinformation and fake news including the “stolen” 2020 election and the January 6 US Capitol attack were precursors to the climate we currently live in. Long interested in teaching critical literacy, composition and rhetoric scholars have begun to respond to this moment, as evinced by recent collections, such as Teaching Critical Reading and Writing and Literacy in the Era of Fake News and Pedagogy in an Age of Misinformation. In these works, composition scholars build on critical literacy traditions while grappling with the changes to our rapidly evolving information space, “the structures that sustain the creation, distribution, and reception of mis- and disinformation” (Lockhart 2).

Some writing instructors have responded by centering their composition courses around the subject of mis/disinformation. Paul T. Corrigon, in his “Fake News: An Undergraduate Composition Course,” demonstrates how we might teach writing through having students use their research skills to combat the post-truth rhetoric they, and we, encounter on a daily basis. He challenges us to focus on research, not as an end but as a means to teach writing using the skills students might already possess:  “as the best pedagogues have always exhorted us, we can teach critical literacy, research, and information literacy not merely as technical skills but as personal dispositions—as ways of being and perceiving in the world”. Corrigan’s syllabus aims to teach students to recognize claims that might be false or falsely accused of being false in their daily encounters with information. As Corrigan notes in the Writing Commons page for his course, he has adapted his course to the local scene of the Evangelical university in which he teaches. The diversity of the spaces in which we teach means that no one course or curriculum will serve as a workable model for all composition classrooms, thus our call for new perspectives on this persisting and societal issue.

The issue of fake news/misinformation is tied to our current political moment, which makes the issue relevant and risky to address in the classroom. The issue is also tied to our current technological moment as developments in technology have rapidly increased the reach and speed of information circulation. And, finally, the issue is relevant to our field’s scholarly and pedagogical history with regard to critical consciousness and critical literacy. Given the political, technological, and scholarly landscape, and living in the post-truth era, we ask: What can teaching in the time of fake news and the age of misinformation teach us about teaching rhetoric and writing? Moreover, what can FENBlog add to conversation about pedagogy in this post-truth era? We invite submissions that speak to the pedagogical developments writing instructors have made due to the fast moving news cycle, how writing instructors have adapted to teaching in the post-truth era, how they deal with comments that arise from fake news and misinformed sources or preconceived notions of prior dispositions (or, confirmation bias), and overall handled tension in the classroom. These ideas are not meant to be limiting; rather, we invite pitches and blog posts, individually or collaboratively written about anything related to teaching composition in the age of misinformation and fake news. 

Pitches and full-length blog pieces should be submitted to fenblog.compstudies@gmail.com

*Featured image on this post created by Dilok Klaisataporn

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