Prisons, STEM, & Other: Teaching Writing in Non-traditional Spaces (Roundtable)


Pedagogy & Professional / Rhetoric & Composition

Laura Hartmann-Villalta (Johns Hopkins University)

Lauren Kuryloski (SUNY University at Buffalo)

The Conference on College Composition and Communication’s position statement on Scholarship in Rhetoric, Writing, and Composition (2018), starts from the premise that the majority of writing scholars will find employment in English Departments, Writing Programs, Writing Centers, etc. The statement goes on to acknowledge that “rhetoric, writing, and composition scholarship addresses how texts are composed, conveyed, and received in a variety of media and for a variety of purposes and audiences, both inside and outside the academy. Scholars investigate writing processes and products in schools and universities, in academic disciplines, in the workplace, in the public arena, in the home, and in digital/virtual environments” (n. pg.). Just as writing scholars analyze communication products in a range of environments, so too do they teach skills associated with writing, rhetoric, and effective communication in a variety of institutional contexts. Increasingly, instructors find themselves teaching writing outside of those spaces envisioned by CCCC: specialists within departments, institutions, or programs that have very little to do with writing directly.

This roundtable seeks to gather the diverse perspective of writing teachers/scholars who find themselves outside the traditional spaces of the university English Department or Writing Program. This may include, but is not limited to, teaching writing in: business or trade schools, engineering departments or STEM schools, military service academies, prison literacy programs, workplace training sessions, and beyond.

We hope to create a space for panelists to discuss the challenges, opportunities, frustrations, and successes of teaching writing to varied student groups in “non-traditional” contexts. Topics for discussion might include:

How do you balance practical “training” in writing and communication with the larger goals of a liberal education?

How might the writing classroom serve as a convergence point for the humanities and other disciplines?

What are strategies for increasing student engagement with writing?

What have instructors learned from working within “non-traditional” contexts with diverse student groups?

Are there conflicts between the curriculum, students, and the writing instruction that arise in these specialized contexts that might be taken for granted when based in a “writing-heavy” department or program, or in a broader liberal arts context?

For those instructors with experiences in multiple specialist environments: what are the similarities and differences that one encounters teaching writing outside of the traditional context?

We hope this roundtable will create an opportunity for writing instructors to share their experiences; exchange ideas, assignments, and approaches; troubleshoot challenges; and make connections about teaching writing in diverse contexts.

This roundtable seeks to gather the diverse perspective of writing teachers/scholars who find themselves outside the traditional spaces of the university English Department or Writing Program. This may include, but is not limited to, teaching writing in: business or trade schools, engineering departments or STEM schools, military service academies, prison literacy programs, workplace training sessions, and beyond.