Posted in Calls to Action, CBW 2011, CCCC 2011, Sense of the House Motion, Who is Basic Writing?

Sense of the House Motion, CCCC 2011

The Resolution:

The Executive Board of the Council on Basic Writing put together a Sense of the House resolution, which was presented and passed at the 2011 CCCC business meeting on 9 April 2011. This resolution came out of a sense of the increasing invisibility of Basic Writing at CCCC.

The Resolution: “Be it resolved that Basic Writing is a vital field and its students and teacher scholars a productive force within composition; is under attack by exclusionary public policies; and therefore must be recognized publicly and supported by CCCC as a conference cluster and with featured sessions.”

The Signatories:

Bill Lalicker
Westchester University

Shannon Carter
Texas A&M–Commerce

Sugie Goen-Salter
San Francisco State University

Peter Adams
Community College Baltimore County

Hannah Ashley
Westchester University

J. Elizabeth Clark
LaGuardia Community College, CUNY

Karen S. Uehling
Boise State University

Greg Glau
Northern Arizona University

Alan Meyers
Truman College Chicago

Kathleen Baca
Dona Ana Community College

Susan Naomi Bernstein
Independent Scholar

Barbara Gleason
City College, CUNY

Tom Peele
Long Island University

Deborah Mutnick
Long Island University

Rebecca Mlynarczyk
City University of New York

Kelly Ritter
University of North Carolina Greensboro

Michael D. Hill
Henry Ford Community College

Marisa A. Klages
LaGuardia Community College, CUNY

Sarah Kirk
University of Alaska, Anchorage

Bruce Horner
University of Louisville

David Bartholomae
University of Pittsburgh

Michelle Stevier
Dickinson State University

Elizabeth McLemore
Minneapolis Community & Technical College

Christina Montgomery
Saginaw Valley State University

Elaine Hunyadi
Saginaw Valley State University

Hope Parisi
Kingsborough Community College, CUNY

Chitralekha Duttagupta
Utah Valley University

Ann Shivers McNair
University of Southern Mississippi

Heidi Johnsen
LaGuardia Community College, CUNY

Linda Chandler
LaGuardia Community College, CUNY

Chuck Jordan
Lake Michigan College

Lee Torda
Bridgewater State University

Liz Bryant
Purdue University

Michelle Zollars
Patrick Henry Community College

Reid Sunahara
Kapiolani Community College

Lynn Reid
Brookdale Community College/City College of New York

Alexandra Reihing
Nassau Community College

Kathryn Douglas
Fairleigh Dickinson University

Sara Webb-Sunderhaus
Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne

Kelly Keane
Bergen Community College

Leigh Jonaitis
Bergen Community College

Mark Sutton
Kean University

Dan Beugnet

Laura McCartan
Metropolitan State University

Jennifer Cost
San Diego Mesa College

Elizabeth Modarelli
Stark State College

Joanne Gabel
Reading Area Community College

Rachel Rigolino
SUNY New Paltz

Joanne Howard
Montgomery College, Rockville Campus

Ana Marie Lopez

Jennifer Swartout
Heartland Community College

Pamela VanHaitsma
University of Pittsburgh

Jason Evans
Prairie State College

Elizabeth Cone
Suffolk Community College

Thomas Reynolds
University of Minnesota

Linda Stine

Judy Hansen
College of Southern Idaho

Beth Gulley
Johnson County Community College

Sue Henderson
East Central College

Robert Miller
Community College of Baltimore County

Sheila Otto
Middle Tennessee State University

Nicole P. Greene
Xavier University of Louisiana

Carla Maroudas
Mt. San Jacinto Community College

Melinda Veller
Rend Lake College

Julie M. Thompson, Ph.D.
Hamline University

Gail Stygall
University of Washington

M. Lani T. Montreal
Malcolm X College

Jim Cody
Brookdale Community College

Bonne August
New York City College of Technology, CUNY

Wendy Smith
San Diego Mesa College

Jessica Schreyer
University of Dubuque

Marsha Millikin
Saginaw Valley State University

Deborah M. Sanchez
North Carolina Central University

Kim Ballard
Western Michigan University

Wendy Olson
Washington State University Vancouver

Cheryl Hogue Smith
Kingsborough CC, CUNY

Lynn Quitman Troyka
Queensborough CC, CUNY

Cheryl Smith
Baruch College, CUNY

Amy Edwards Patterson
Moraine Park Technical College

Statements of Support

I fully support a conference cluster and featured sessions devoted to issues represented by the term “basic writing.” This commitment will insure that the organization continues to pay appropriate attention to questions of diversity and language difference.

David Bartholomae
Professor and Charles Crow Chair
Department of English
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

The teaching of basic writing occupies a paradoxical position in composition. It is the specialty of some of the leading figures in composition studies and, simultaneously, the province of teachers and students placed at the bottom of the academic institutional hierarchy. The emergence of basic writing as an academic field in the early 1970s has frequently been cited as crucial in the development of composition, producing “[m]any of the teaching and research projects we now take for granted and “a number of remarkable innovations in the study and teaching of writing” (Trimbur, “Cultural Studies” 14). Basic writing represents a writing movement that has consistently addressed “broad questions about the aims of education and the shape of various educational institutions” and that contributes significantly to the “revitalizing of the teaching of writing” (12). By working with students institutionally designated as at the bottom, basic writing has explicitly called into question the social and political role of educational institutions and the politics of representing students, or prospective students, and their writing in particular ways, as either “literate” or “illiterate,” “college material” or “remedial,” “skilled” or “unskilled.”

Yet the lessons and insights of basic writing are at risk of being lost or forgotten. John Trimbur has written that we need to “relearn” the insights of open admissions (“Cultural Studies” 14-15). James Slevin has expressed concern that the training of writing teachers typically does not include investigation of the role writing instruction has played in socializing those new student populations historically called “remedial” (14).

I support the statement to sustain the continuing insights of basic writing and its project of responsibility to those most commonly identified as outsiders to the academy. I do so both in order that we meet our responsibilities to these students, but also to ensure that we meet our responsibilities as a field and organization committed to rethinking the meaning of literacy, the teaching of writing, and their potential contributions to projects of democracy and justice.


John Trimbur’s “Cultural Studies and Teaching Writing,” Focuses 1.2 (1988): 5-18.
James Slevin’s “Depoliticizing and Politicizing Composition Studies,” The Politics of Writing Instruction: Postsecondary, ed. Richard Bullock and John Trimbur (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1991): 1-21.

Bruce Horner
Endowed Chair in Rhetoric and Composition
315 Bingham Humanities Bldg.
University of Louisville
Louisville, KY 40292

Basic Writing is an important sub-set of composition studies with a significant student population and with a long and distinguished history and scholarship. We feel it is important that Basic Writing be acknowledged explicitly by CCC in a time of waning public support for this important endeavor.

Rebecca Mlynarczyk
Kingsborough Community College, CUNY
CUNY Graduate Center
Co-Editor of Journal of Basic Writing


We need to support and sustain programs, courses, and scholarship in Basic Writing. Our students must have to access to resources that allow them to learn and to grow as writers– and as full participants in democracy.

Susan Naomi Bernstein
Independent Scholar
Queens, NY


Reports from the floor of the business meeting, 4/9/2011:

I’ve never been prouder of CBW. The way so many people came together to work on getting the resolution urging CCCC to give BW more visibility at the conference was simply amazing. Yesterday, so many people emailed their support that we “crashed” the server. And this morning the resolution passed without opposition. Chris Anson added that he supported our suggestion and would work to find ways to accomplish it for the 2012 conference, even though that process is already underway.

I just want to thank and congratulate everyone CBW who contributed to this impressive achievement in the space of about 48 hours.

Peter Adams
Community College of Baltimore County


Hello All,
The resolution we developed and passed in the CBW workshop and SIG of CCCC was entered into the CCCC business meeting as a sense-of-the-house motion this morning. That resolution is:
“Be it resolved that Basic Writing, a vital field and its students and teacher scholars aproductive force within composition; is under attack
 by exclusionary public policies; and therefore must be recognized publicly and supported by CCCC as a conference cluster and with featured sessions.”

After a careful explanation and reading of the motion by William Lalicker and words of support by Lynn Troyka, Kelly Ritter and Shannon Carter (Kelly read a statement by David Bartholomae and Shannon read a statement by Bruce Horner), the motion was unanimously passed by the body of CCCC. We received a promise of support by Chris Anson, next year’s CCCC chair, who believed we would be able to cull and highlight BW presentations during next year’s conference.

Yay, us!

It’s worth noting that this motion and the movement it has spurred is just the start. Now, we need to inundate the review committees with proposals that show the vibrancy and validity of BW as a field of study within CCCC and as a vital social concern for all compositionists. We also need to start to take a much more vocal presence in journals, in the media, and on the social front. To that end, look for an article on on Monday morning regarding the motion and (hopefully) the current movement within CBW.

Please join the CBW in moving our issues and our ideas to the forefront of composition studies and to the larger higher education world.

Great conference all. Great movement all. See you back in the classroom.

Mike Hill
Henry Ford Community College

Inside Higher Education Article

Basic, But Vital

Previous versions of this post appear here, here, and here.


Thanks to Rakka at for my gravatar image, "Binary Easter Egg." Awesome photo!

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