Announcements + CFPs

CFP: Composition Studies Summer 2022 Special Issue:

Teaching Writing to Increase Well-Being in Writing Programs

Posted 1.09.22

We invite proposals of approximately 300 words for a Summer 2022 special issue of Composition Studies that highlights research and pedagogical approaches designed to understand the nature of and increase well-being in writing programs through writing and writing instruction. The purpose of this special issue is to advance dialogue about how to develop truly inclusive and supportive instructional practices that foster well-being for all participants in writing programs: undergraduate students, instructors (both faculty and graduate students), staff, and administrators. 

Leaders and educators in higher education are increasingly concerned about student well-being, especially for historically underrepresented and underserved populations. While these concerns were certainly prominent prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, events following the March 2020 lockdowns and the murder of George Floyd in May 2020 at the hands of Minneapolis police officers put into stark relief the urgent need for a clear focus on mental health and well-being on university and college campuses. Approaches to address physical, mental, and emotional well-being on campus have become prominent topics in higher education publications such as the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed, and organizations such as AAC&U are hosting workshops and special sessions to address well-being on campus. As these conversations become more frequent, we urge writing studies scholars to participate in and lead efforts to develop effective strategies for improving well-being for students, instructors, staff, and administrators. 

Writing courses, whether in the first year or in writing across the curriculum programs, are one of the academic spaces through which nearly all undergraduate students pass. Writing courses are also learning spaces where students often share what is troubling them, where they are known on a first-name basis, and where they can explore writing practices that give them an avenue for self-expression. Scholars with varied approaches (Daly and Miller, 1975; García de Müeller, 2016; Inoue, 2015 & 2019; Kara, 2013; Kryger and Zimmerman, 2020; Kynard, 2008) have shown, however, that our pedagogical and assessment practices in writing classes often do more harm than good. Yet research in well-being, socioemotional learning (SEL), and educational psychology show that intentionally designed writing activities can and do promote well-being (Neff, 2015; Pennebaker, 2004). 

The need for pedagogical approaches in critical first year and upper division courses that build upon students’ strengths and develop their sense of belonging is significant. Calls to operationalize SEL strengths-based approaches to learning have prompted some scholars (Shriver et al., 1999) to propose over the past two decades that there is a “socio-emotional health crisis” in the United States with estimates ranging from 25-50% of high school students engaging in high-risk behaviors. At the heart of this crisis is “a breakdown in the caring aspects of students’ lives … [with] emotional distance in school relationships with teachers and the school community” cited as major contributing factors (Peterson & Seligman, 2004, p. 407). 

In writing studies, Inoue’s scholarship has demonstrated the need to develop antiracist assessment practices because our historical approaches to teaching and assessing writing have been built upon white supremacist assumptions about language. In second language writing, scholars such as Matsuda (2006) have long called for approaches to teaching writing that assume linguistic diversity is present in writing classes. Models that use strengths-based approaches (Miller-Cochran, 2012) can provide a way to draw on students’ knowledge and experiences to learn while also increasing their well-being. Dolmage (2015) and Kryger and Zimmerman (2020) have also called for pedagogical approaches that are inclusive of all writing students, regardless of their (dis)abilities. Writing students, especially first-year writing students, stand to benefit significantly from a writing curriculum rooted in inclusive, intentional strengths-based approaches that promote student well-being. 

Proposals might address, but need not be limited to, questions such as: 

  • What are the effects of a range of assignments, activities, curricula, faculty development approaches, working conditions, and administrative practices on the ecologies of well-being in writing programs? 
  • What might inclusive pedagogical approaches for writing look like when they focus on student and instructor well-being? 
  • How might instructors introduce an emphasis on well-being into their writing classes? 
  • Which writing assessment practices foster well-being for all students and instructors? 
  • Whose voices have historically been included and/or excluded from discussions about student well-being? 
  • What is the nature of the relationship between well-being and issues such as student success, retention, satisfaction, and completion? 
  • What is the responsibility, if any, of a writing program in contributing to student well-being? 

In particular, we invite submissions for articles, course designs, and book reviews. Please see the guidelines for submissions to Composition Studies at https://compstudiesjournal.com/ for further instructions on submissions for each of these sections of the journal. 

For queries or to submit proposals, feel free to contact Stacey Cochran and Susan Miller-Cochran at CSWritingandWellBeing at gmail.com. 

Timeline 

  • Proposals due: January 30, 2022 
  • Invitations for manuscripts sent out: March 1, 2022 
  • Rough Drafts: May 1, 2022 
  • Revisions due (if needed): June 15, 2022 
  • Page proofs: July 15, 2022 
  • Returned proofs: July 30, 2022 
  • Publication of issue: August 15, 2022 

Composition Studies Seeks Four New Editorial Team Members

Posted 01.14.22

Friends, readers, and colleagues, 

Composition Studies is pleased to begin soliciting applications for four volunteer editorial team members: two to edit the journal’s FEN Blog, one social media editorial assistant to manage the journal’s Facebook account, and one content and copyeditor. These positions will join the editorial team in February 2022 and stay on through February 2023 (unless folks wish to stay on longer, of course!). 

The oldest independent, peer-reviewed periodical in the field, Composition Studies is an academic journal dedicated to the range of professional practices associated with rhetoric and composition: teaching college writing; theorizing rhetoric and composing; administering writing related programs; and preparing the field’s future teacher-scholars. Every year, we publish three issues: two print issues in spring and fall, plus a summer special issue that is open-access, digital, and guest-edited. And we maintain the FEN Blog! 

FEN Blog Editorial Assistants: The two editorial assistant positions for the FEN Blog work alongside journal co-editor Kara Taczak to solicit new contributions, edit incoming work, and post new entries on the FEN Blog’s WordPress site. This position entails quite a bit of autonomy in the creation and solicitation of new content; editorial assistants in this role are encouraged to use their expertise and interests to direct the blog and contribute to its identity in meaningful ways. Experience with WordPress is a plus, but not required. The estimated time commitment for this position is approximately 2 hours per week. 

About FEN Blog: Titled after Composition Studies’ original name (Freshman English Newsletter), FEN Blog makes space for writing teachers to bring their research and experience to bear on current issues and to help colleagues think about how ongoing exigencies (re)shape our pedagogy, assessment, and theory of teaching writing. FEN Blog is meant to spark conversation about how writing and literacy education meets the needs of the moment and contributes to pluralistic, democratic public discourse that sustains students’ diverse linguistic and literate capacities. FEN Blog aims to cultivate academic yet accessible dialogue that grows out of the work of contingent scholars, graduate students, early career researchers, and others engaged in composition studies. We particularly welcome pieces from teacher-scholars from nondominant communities.

Social Media Editorial Assistant: This position maintains Composition Studies’s Facebook account, which promotes the FEN Blog and new issues of Composition Studies as we publish them, and interacts with scholars/followers active on Facebook. The estimated time commitment for this role is approximately 1 hour per week. Applicants should have some experience with Facebook’s platform and an account of their own (or be willing to make one to link with Composition Studies’s page).  

Content & Copyediting: From abstract to bibliography, the content and copyediting team helps prepare the various written genres published in Composition Studies for publication. Content and copyeditors develop and follow house style guidelines to make the published writing in CS the best it can be. We welcome applicants who have an attunement to careful language use, a sensitivity for various grammars, and a desire for editorial experience. The estimated time commitment for this position varies by publication schedule, but is approximately 1-2 hours per week.

We welcome interested applicants to apply to join our team! In the past, graduate students and early-career professionals seeking to gain editorial expertise have both enjoyed and excelled in these roles, and we encourage applicants in these positions to apply. If interested, please submit a CV and a brief email that explains which editorial position interests you and why. Applications submitted before February 1, 2022 will be given priority. Submissions and questions may be directed to Megan Busch, Managing Editor at compstudiesjournal@gmail.com.