restricted access Introduction: Faculty Writing as a Research Area for Rhetoric and Composition
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I n t r o d u c t i o n Faculty Writing as a Research Area for Rhetoric and Composition DOI: 10.7330/9781607326625.c000 Much of our scholarship within the field of rhetoric and composition focuses on how writing “happens.” We’ve studied the composing processes of twelfth graders, first-year composition classes, adult learners, workplace writers, community college students, non-native speakers, and the incarcerated, among other populations. We’ve even studied faculty writers from other disciplines (for two examples, see Eodice and Geller 2013 and Thaiss and Zawacki 2006). But the writing processes rhetoric and composition faculty use to compose the intellectual labor and scholarship of our field—the oft-cited monographs, the award-­ winning articles, the textbooks, the edited collections, and the new media essays that include films, images, sounds, and hyperlinks—are largely a mystery. In short, we know very little about how writing faculty write. This lack of self-study of our own writing habits is disconcerting for several reasons. For one, writing is our field of study. The field of rhetoric and composition investigates the most effective composing strategies under a variety of conditions and within a range of contexts. From the research we conduct and the textbooks we publish, writing faculty, we might assume, “know” the tricks of effective writing and how to navigate issues that faculty of all disciplines often struggle with: combatting writer’s block, juggling multiple deadlines, representing research accurately and fairly, etc. We might even assume that writing faculty have more tools for academic writing success than faculty in other disciplines. Because rhetoric and composition faculty share the writing challenges of the interviewees featured here: no time to write, heavy teaching loads, etc., learning the strategies successful faculty writers use within a variety of contexts is key for understanding how to ground and potentially improve faculty writing practices within the discipline. Yet beyond preliminary research by Wells (2015) and Soderlund (2015) and a few essays on how collaborative academic writing between writing faculty affects careers in the field (see Day and Eodice 2001; Ede and Lunsford 2001; Ronald and Roskelly 2001; Yancey and Spooner 1998), we’ve only 4   H ow Writing Faculty Write been working around the edges of a conversation about our composing practices as faculty. We ultimately don’t know if field-based knowledge shapes our own academic writing practices or influences our scholarly output as authors of rhetoric and composition publications, yet faculty writing within rhetoric and composition is a rich area of study central to our broader mission of studying how writing works. Moreover, writing faculty have a discipline-driven, philosophical impetus to write. Unlike other academic disciplines, a key tenet in the field of rhetoric and writing is that writing teachers should be writers. A disciplinary identity as a writer differs from the way that other academics define themselves, as faculty in other disciplines choose instead to think of themselves as “readers or problem solvers or project managers or scientists” (Geller 2013, 7; Toor 2015). In contrast we are writing faculty in both senses of the term. Rhetoric and composition scholars such as Richard Gebhardt (1977), Maxine Hairston (1986), Donald Murray (1986), and E. Shelley Reid (2009) argue that writing teachers, especially , have an obligation to write because the process of writing and the teaching of writing are inseparable. As rationale, Hairston argues, Teachers who do not engage in the writing process themselves cannot adequately understand the complex dynamics of the process, cannot empathize with their students’ problems, and are in no position either to challenge or to endorse the recommendations and admonitions of the textbooks they are using. (Hairston 1986, 62) This goal is so essential; it has remained the number one expectation for training writing teachers since the Conference on College Composition and Communication (1982) issued a position statement on the preparation of writing teachers in 1982. And many faculty do write both with students in classes and in reflective activity outside of class (see Eng 2002 for a useful overview). In National Writing Project workshops and similar professional development activities such as the Institute for Writing and Thinking at Bard College, instructors primarily write as part of learning to teach writing more effectively. Gebhardt (1977, 140) makes the case for these efforts, arguing writing teachers should write about the teaching of writing as a mode of learning, as a means of both understanding and arguing for personal practices and theories. Likewise, Brannon and Pradl (1994) consider the...


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Subject Headings

  • College teachers -- Interviews.
  • Manuscript preparation (Authorship).
  • Academic writing.
  • College teachers as authors.
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