Class Synthesis: The Activist WPA

This week’s text was Linda Adler-Kassler’s The Activist WPA which seeks to create a new narrative surrounding writing than the pragmatic progressive jeremiad narrative that has influenced historical and contemporary notions surrounding writing, student deficiency, and student under-preparedness for academic writing in a higher learning environment. Kassler proposes for WPAs and others involved in university writing programs to facilitate conversations with the public on both micro and macro levels in order to share stories, narratives, and experiences surrounding college composition as a way to reframe the dominant perspective of college writing.


While most classes involve mapping out the exigence, proposal, theories, and examples of each text, this week we first did some regrouping and rethinking about all that we have covered so far surrounding writing program issues and any questions we have been considering. Each of us shared what we thought about composition before the class and how class discussions and texts have expanded our ideas about composition. We considered our own principles and stakes within composition, our personal stories that perhaps influence those principles and stakes, and what we found most compelling (or problematic) about the text. Throughout the discussion, we also contemplated what stories we, as individuals, want to tell and change.


Lauren and Kasey posed select questions for the class to consider regarding Kassler’s “backward mapping” of long and short term goals, critical intelligence and alternatives, problematizing expectations for composition both within writing programs and for the public, as well as the importance and value of personal stories to do the messy work of facilitating conversations for all stakeholders involved.


Dr. Campbell also encouraged us to consider the repeating questions from the text excluding any sort of micro or macro level expectations as if we could facilitate our own composition course on our individual “islands”:


1.    How should students’ literacies be defined when they come into composition classes?

2.    What literacies should composition classes develop, how, and for what purpose?

3.    How should the development of students’ literacies be assessed at the end of these classes?




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