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2 J o s e ph H a r r i s DOI: 10.7330/9781607326625.c002 JOSEPH HARRIS is an English professor at the University of Delaware, where he teaches composition, creative nonfiction, and digital writing . Before coming to Delaware, he was the founding director of the Thompson Writing Program at Duke University—a multidisciplinary program noted for teaching writing as a form of critical inquiry. His books include Rewriting: How to Do Things with Texts, A Teaching Subject, and Teaching with Student Texts. He has served as editor of College Composition and Communication, the leading scholarly journal in writing studies, and of the Conference on College Composition and Communication Studies in Writing and Rhetoric, the leading book series in the field. He is currently at work on a book about how the teaching of writing has been depicted in contemporary films, plays, and novels. Harris has centered his career on mentoring new teachers of writing . During the ten years he directed the Duke writing program, he recruited over eighty postdoctoral fellows from a wide range of disciplines and guided them as they designed and taught writing-intensive seminars in their fields. Several of these postdocs now serve in leadership roles in writing programs across the country. At Delaware he advises graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty members on teaching writing, and in 2016 received the College of Arts and Sciences Award for Excellence in Service. He also works frequently with K–12 teachers of writing and language arts and is often asked to lead workshops for faculty at other universities. To find out more, visit The interview took place on July 8, 2013, via Skype. joe: I thought it was funny to talk about writing projects today. I’m returning to writing work after spending about a month or two moving , closing down one house, opening another, gardening, that kind of stuff. If I weren’t being interviewed right now, I’d be typing to try to get some writing done! 42   How Writing Faculty Write christine: Let’s start with something from past work as a launching point then. In a few of your works, you note teaching writing offers a way for writing professors to talk about writing in rhetoric and composition scholarship. Do you feel that the writing that you do as a professor and then the writing that your students do is somewhat inseparable based on your body of work? joe: Let’s put it this way. I consider myself a teacher of writing rather than a rhetorician or even primarily a scholar. The most direct inspiration for my work has been the work that I do with undergraduates in the classroom. That has always been the case. I find student writing really just an interesting cultural phenomenon. I like to think about it. When you are working with apprentices, they say and do things that are surprising and interesting, and yes, unpredictable. I do feel like I learn a lot both in terms of thinking about teaching and thinking about writing, but I also see changes in the actual kind of writing I do. christine: How so? joe: One of the things I’ve recently tried to do over the years is to shift my style a little bit. I try to imagine myself as writing some of my work that might be read by both undergraduates and by colleagues at the same time, and I’ve found that kind of writing really very rewarding. christine: Your scholarship seems to pay careful attention to undergraduate writers not only as readers but also as authors. You talk a fair bit in publications, including A Teaching Subject, about how to use student work ethically, for example how to quote it and how to write about it in rhetoric and composition research. How do you draw that line between leading readers in the field of rhetoric and composition to what you want them to get from the student research and letting the student work speak for itself? joe: I’ve become a little more aware of and interested in the issues around use of student work in research. I guess I’ve begun to see it as potentially problematic in ways that hadn’t occurred to me when I first started doing it. I recently published a piece in JAC called “Using Student Texts in Composition Scholarship” and I talk about the challenge of using student texts a lot. In one of the postscripts...


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