This is the official website for the book, Writing Program Architecture: Thirty Cases for Reference and Research, available from Utah State University Press in August, 2017, edited by Bryna Siegel Finer and Jamie White-Farnham.
From the introduction:
….what readers will find in this collection are case studies written by WPAs from 30 institutions across the US. These cases detail the architecture — the underlying structures — of their writing programs. Such programs include writing centers, first-year writing curricula, WAC programs, writing majors, and others — the largest print collection of program information to date. These 30 cases are meant to inform, inspire, and otherwise help new and experienced WPAs build new programs and sustain existing ones. The cases are presented within the guiding metaphor of architecture, which we rely on both as a way to understand writing programs and as an organizational feature of the book.
We suggest that exposing the architecture of writing programs has three purposes: first, it foregrounds elements of a program that are oftentimes treated as mundane background information. In accounts of writing programs, the institutional contexts are typically (and perfunctorily) discussed ahead of the “real” project or argument. Yet, we suggest that this information deserves some attention of its own. Ask any WPA about their current project and inevitably, they will most likely begin the answer with some explanation of the structure of the unit or program in order to situate the work. For instance, a director of a WAC program might have to describe his current professional development program by first explaining that he reports partly to the Dean and partly to the English Department, which puts him in a difficult position when he must convince his own colleagues in English to consider some institutional mandate from the administration. Since explanations of structure often precede argument, method, and solution, structure itself is important to highlight.
Second, we see this book as serving a research function. As a collection of case studies, the volume provides jumping off points to address and inspire myriad research questions. For instance, one might notice and believe that writing centers, so important to the support of writing education and culture on a campus, are often precarious in structure, wedged between departments and comprising fractions of a person’s job. For the benefit of a project seeking to improve such conditions, this book provides evidence and documentation for support and corroboration. Each chapter is a site of research, a place where WPAs and other scholars in Writing Studies can look to invent, support, and challenge their assumptions and arguments.
Finally, the third purpose of this book is to model a method for WPAs to consider and articulate their own programs’ architecture. For one thing, they might consider their program in a material, logistical way outside of their own performance within it. As we noted above, writing programs are often conflated with the WPA themself. Often this is because the only funding source or institutional support that exists is that person’s salary. For another, WPAs might improve their own ability at focusing others’ attention on the parts of the program they wish to expand, improve, or promote. Rather than rattling off what a program isn’t — distinguishing the first-year writing from WAC from writing fellows, say, — program architecture within the writing programs featured here exemplifies the many elements within these structures and models how to articulate one’s own.