In a recent post for the University Press of Colorado, Bryna Siegel Finer and Jamie White Farnham argue that a way to move from the overused trope of sustainability in writing studies is to think more about how writing programs—their people and environments, in combination with practical considerations such as funding sources, reporting lines, research, and curriculum—are situated as part of the architecture of their institutions. While sustainability is a term that can easily be co-opted or flipped against a writing program by an administration (e.g., “This program is no longer sustainable”), when a program is built into the structure of an institution, it is much harder to dismantle. The metaphor of architecture allows writing program administrators to imagine the constituent parts of a writing program as its foundation, beams, posts, scaffolding—the institutional structures that, alongside its people, anchor a program to the ground and keep it standing. Read “Sustainability and Then Some: Writing Programs in Institutional Structure” here.
Wondering what it means to use the chapters in Writing Program Architecture as cases for reference and research? In this article in the Journal of Writing Assessment, the authors offer:
a comparative analysis of state level policies in Florida, Wisconsin, and Idaho [and] discuss implications for possible similar legislation in Pennsylvania.
Authors of “Legislating First-Year Writing Placement: Implications for Pennsylvania and Across the Country” use Chapter 18 of Writing Program Architecture as a case study of the Basic Writing Program at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. There, the WPA revised their placement process and basic writing program in order to continue to support struggling writers in the wake of drastic budget cuts. The writers of the JWA article use the Basic Writing program at UWS to argue that programs across the country should be taking pro-active approaches to placement and assessment as state legislation takes more control over defining “college-ready.”
What do these three have in common? Find out in the newest responses to Writing Program Architecture: Thirty Cases for Reference and Research. The three latest responses are written by Remica Bingham-Risher, director of the Interdisciplinary Writing Quality Enhancement Plan at Old Dominion University; Christopher LeCluyse, Writing Center Director at Westminster College; and James Purdy, Writing Center Director at Duquesne University. These responses not only describe the authors’ motivations for writing the program profiles within the book; they add another layer of complexity to the way we understand program structures and the people who hold them together, support them, keep them standing.
From the introduction:
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.
If you want a sneak peak at the introduction to Writing Program Architecture, make sure to read Shevaun Watson’s response, just added to our website.
We’re delighted to present here on our website responses to the book from Sandra Jamieson and Susan Naomi Bernstein. In a few days, expect to see a response from Shevaun Watson, who provided the inspiration for the beginning of the book’s introduction. As contributors to the collection, these WPAs describe their process in thinking about their programs’ architecture, in using the templated chapter structure to consider their program structure.
We hope to feature one or two responses from chapter contributors each month for the next year. If you are a WPA (or perhaps hope to be one) and have not contributed to the collection, and you would like to write a response to be featured on our website, please feel free to contact us!
Curious about what’s in the book? Here’s a sneak peak of the TOC!
Section 1: Majors and Minors, Undergraduate and Graduate Writing Curriculums
- Miami University Major in Professional Writing, Heidi A. McKee
- Oakland University Writing and Rhetoric Major, Greg A. Giberson, Lori Ostergaard, and Marshall Kitchens
- Purdue University Graduate Program in Rhetoric and Composition, Patricia Sullivan
- Rowan University Major in Writing Arts, Sanford Tweedie
- University of Rhode Island Writing Major , Nedra Reynolds and Joannah Portman-Daley
- University of Wyoming Professional Writing Minor, Michael Knievel and Meg Van Baalen-Wood
Section 2: Writing and Communication Across the Curriculum
- Louisiana State University Communication Across the Curriculum, Sarah Liggett
- Monmouth College Communication Across the Curriculum, Bridget Draxler
- Old Dominion University Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), Remica Bingham-Risher
- University of Missouri Campus Writing Program, Bonnie Selting and Amy Lannin
Section 3: First-Year Composition and Introductory College Literacy
- Arizona State University Writers’ Studio Online, Angela Clark-Oates
- John Jay College of Criminal Justice First Year Writing Program, Tim McCormack and Mark McBeth
- Onondaga Community College Writing Program, Malkiel Choseed
- Our Lady of the Lake University QUEST First-Year Writing Program, Candace Zepeda
- St. Louis Community College ESL Program, Lisa Wilkinson and Heather McKay
- University of Notre Dame University Writing Program, Patrick Clauss
- University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire University Writing Program, Shevaun Watson
- University of Wisconsin – Superior Basic Writing, John McCormick, Heather McGrew, and Jamie White-Farnham
- Utah Valley University Department of Literacies and Composition, Jacqueline Preston and Deborah Marrott
Section 4: Writing Centers and Writing Support
- Duquesne University Writing Center, James P. Purdy
- Indiana University of Pennsylvania Kathleen Jones White Writing Center, Leigh Ann Dunning and Ben Rafoth
- University of Connecticut Writing Center, Thomas Deans and Kathleen Tonry
- Shepherd University Academic Support Center, Christy I. Wenger
- Wallace Community College Center for Writing and Writing Instruction, Emily W. Cosgrove
- Westminster College Writing Center, Christopher LeCluyse
Section 5: Integrated Programs
- Arizona State University Writing Programs in the Department of English, Shirley K. Rose, Susan Naomi Bernstein, and Brent Chappelow
- Colby College Writing Program & Farnham Writers’ Center, Stacey Sheriff and Paula Harrington
- Drew University Vertical Writing Program, Sandra Jamieson
- New Mexico Tech Writing Program and Writing Center , Maggie Griffin Taylor, Julianne Newmark, and Steve Simpson
- Pomona College WAC-Based First-Year Writing Seminar and Writing Center, Dara Regaignon
Welcome to the Writing Program Architecture website and Primary Document storehouse. Here you’ll find the primary documents described at the end of each chapter of Writing Program Architecture, along with responses by some of the contributors and other scholars and teachers in writing studies. To access the documents, click on “Primary Documents” on the menu above, and then click on the tab the provides the sorted list most useful to your needs. Have an idea for a sorted list that isn’t available? Please contact us!
Contributors: Susan Naomi Bernstein, Remica Bingham-Risher, Brent Chappelow, Malkiel Choseed, Angela Clark-Oates, Patrick Clauss, Emily W. Cosgrove, Thomas Deans, Bridget Draxler, Leigh Ann Dunning, Greg A. Giberson, Maggie Griffin Taylor, Paula Harrington, Sandra Jamieson, Marshall Kitchens, Michael Knievel, Amy Lannin, Christopher LeCluyse, Sarah Liggett, Deborah Marrott, Mark McBeth, Tim McCormack, John McCormick, Heather McGrew, Heather McKay, Heidi A. McKee, Julianne Newmark, Lori Ostergaard, Joannah Portman-Daley, Jacqueline Preston, James P. Purdy, Ben Rafoth, Dara Regaignon, Nedra Reynolds, Shirley Rose, Bonnie Selting, Stacey Sheriff, Steve Simpson, Patricia Sullivan, Kathleen Tonry, Sanford Tweedie, Meg Van Baalen-Wood, Shevaun Watson, Christy I. Wenger, Lisa Wilkinson, Candace Zepeda