Theory and Practice of Teaching Composition

Eng605: Theory & Practice of Teaching Composition
Georganne Nordstrom
Fall 2022
Wednesday 3:15-5:45

Course Description
While theories of teaching can represent a variety of pedagogical values and approaches for achieving them, one common objective across writing pedagogies is to afford students avenues to assert their agency over their education as well as in their personal and professional lives through the teaching of writing. This foundational tenet points to social justice (albeit to varying extents) as implicit in the teaching of writing. We will begin the course with an overview of the evolution of composition pedagogies since the 1960s and 70s (i.e., Tate et al., 2013) to develop an understanding of the ways teaching writing has been engaged in such efforts over time. Then, a majority of the course will be spent examining contemporary issues and pedagogical responses. Two salient questions we will continually return to throughout the course are, 1) what role does and should social justice play in the teaching of writing?; and 2) how is the pedagogical objective of student empowerment realized differently in different spacial and temporal contexts? Current scholarship in areas including Indigenous approaches (i.e., Lyons; King; hoʻomanawanui), Queer theory (i.e., Waite), Anti-racist pedagogies (i.e., Condon & Young), and Translingual Approaches & Translanguaging (i.e., Canagarajah; Young et al.) will provide departure points to explore different ways scholars and practitioners have responded to their own sociopolitical contexts and teaching conditions to determine approaches appropriate for our contexts. As the title of the seminar indicates, Composition Studies is concerned with the intersections between theory and practice—thus, as we move through these theoretical frames we will also explore (and experiment with) different ways the goals and objectives of a theory can be actualized through classroom practice.

Learning Outcomes:
Upon completion of this course, students will be able to demonstrate:

  • an ability to historicize composition studies within academia and as a response to political movements.
  • an understanding of how spatial and temporal place, highlighting Hawaiʻi as an example, impacts the teaching of writing.
  • an ability to critically situate research, both one’s own and other’s, within scholarly conversations.
  • preparedness to teach First Year Writing

Tentative Assignments

  • Weekly Responses & 1 week’s Discussion Questions (20%)
  • Teaching Demonstration (30%)
  • Syllabus with Theoretical Justification (50%) 

Possible texts to include:
Selections from College English, Special Issue: Translingual Work in Composition, 78(3), p. 284-289.
Canagarajah, S. (2011). Translanguaging in the classroom: Emerging issues for research and pedagogy. Applied Linguistics Review, 2, 1–28.
Condon, F. & Young, V. A. (2016) Performing Antiracist Pedagogy in Rhetoric, Writing, and Communication
Duffy, W. (2014). Collaboration (in) theory: Reworking the social turn’s conversational imperative. College English, 76(5), 416–435.
hoʻomanawanui, k. (2009). “ʻIke ʻĀina: Native Hawaiian Culturally-based Indigenous Literacy.” Hūlili, Multidisciplinary Research on Hawaiian Well-being, vol. 5: 203-244.
Kawai‘ae‘a mā, K. (2014). Nā honua mauli ola: Hawaiian Cultural Pathways for Healthy and Responsive Learning Environments. 2nd ed.
King, L., Gubele, R., Anderson, J.R. (2015). Survivance, Sovereignty, and Story: Teaching American Indian Rhetorics.
Lyons, S. R. (2009). The fine art of fencing: Nationalism, hybridity, and the search for a Native American writing pedagogy. JAC, 29(1-2), p. 77-105.
Tate, G., Taggert, A. R., Schick, K., Hessler, H. B. (2013). A guide to composition pedagogies
Waite. S. (2017) Teaching Queer: Radical Possibilities for Writing and Knowing
Young, V. A., Barrett, R., Young-Rivera, Y., & Lovejoy, K.B. (2014). Other people’s English: Code-meshing, code-switching, and African American literacy.
Young V. A. & Martinez, A. Y. (Eds.) (2011). Code-meshing as world English: Pedagogy, policy, performance.