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From the Review Desk

Buses. This is my current cause. I moved into a city in order to reduce my family’s carbon footprint. I willingly entered a social contract that took from me privacy and a certain amount of autonomy concerning my property in order to benefit from the city infrastructure. It turns out, however, that my city (and many others besides) see buses as expensive and (ah-hem) not high priority. So off to the car dealership to buy a new commuting car.

This seems like a strange and perhaps irrelevant preamble, but I assure readers that it is not. The question that I join students in trying to answer is a rhetorical one: How can I work with my neighbors to move my local government to civic action in a time of austerity? How, in other words, can I teach and participate in community action and (because I am a teacher first) how can I involve my students? It appears that my colleagues at other institutions are struggling with the same questions and proposing analytical tools and readings that enable us to draw upon the strengths of academic disciplines to affect positive local change. Take, for example, Christina LaVecchia’s review of Ryder’s Rhetorics for Community Action in which LaVecchia emphasizes Ryder’s rhetorical sense of public writing and communication—one that responds to particular situations by taking into account all actors and their different expertise. An overriding theme in this book is Ryder’s emphasis on a problem-posing pedagogy and balances multiple approaches. To compliment this review is the one on Nancy Welch’s Living Room by Diana Eidson. Eidson identifies Welch’s frame as one of balance between action and constraint, or the desire to affect public change in the face of private corporations and precedential government. This same theme between public and private can be seen in Jerry Lee’s review of Prendergast’s Buying into English, a noteworthy book for those of us interested in the control and possibilities of literacy and language in local and global contexts. Finally, this issue’s Keywords essay “Prison” by Laura Rogers explores the complexities associated with prison literate practices and pedagogies as important to “for inmates to continue to obtain education, literacy skills, the chance for reflection and collaboration, and the opportunity to use writing to explore their worlds and lives” (internal page reference please). In all, I hope that the books and topics reviewed in this issue are as much as an inspiration to our readers as they were to me. Now to get my students as excited about buses as a topic of civic importance. [End Page 133]

Thanks to the careful scholarship being conducted by contributors to this journal and others worldwide, this research is being made available at an astounding rate. As such, we encourage you to contact us about a book, documentary, or alternative medium that you have read/watched/participated in that would interest readers of this journal. Further, since we are currently unable to keep up with the rate of publication, we have instituted a keywords essay—a short five-to-seven-page synthesis that brings together multiple contemporary sources on a single topic. If you are interested in contributing to the Book and New Media Review section with either a review or a keywords essay, please contact either me at or our new book review editor Jim Bowman at

Also visit <>. [End Page 134]

Jennifer deWinter
Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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