Posted in CBW 2013, CCCC 2013, Politics of Remediation, Who is Basic Writing?

Small Groups!

CBW had 5 small groups to discuss “Race, Locality, and the Public Work of Basic Writing.”

Preparing and supporting students of color

We want to empower students & create a sense of agency in their lives;
There are tensions between expectations like end-of-term assessments (high stakes tests) and preparing and supporting students of color;
Why do these conversations exclude students? Why do we have these conversations without students at the table. How do we navigate this?
The group also shared grading practices (basic skills or inviting a conversation in the grade?);
The group discussed the difference between focusing on grammar and engaging in conversations about content.

Preparing and supporting faculty of color

The group discussed tokenism and the importance of avoiding it! (e.g. particularly when faculty of color are recruited for committee work and then don’t have time to publish and other do other work);
The group discussed teaching evaluations, (e.g. students commenting on “accents” as if all faculty don’t have an accent; that if a faculty member of color makes even 1 comment about race, that some students begin to make an issue out of it), so tenure and promotion committees need to be educated about issues like this;
Support: invite collaboration (in publishing, in teaching, etc.);
Support & mentoring: make tenure & promotion expectations clear.

Race and pedagogical practices

The group discussed My Writing Lab & how it’s become a stand-alone module;
CLASP (University of Washington)–professional development for teachers;
The relationship between curriculum & race & pedagogical practices;
The relationship of edited, standard American English and whiteness;
The position of the teacher in the classroom & giving race time and space in the class for conversation.

Basic Writing and Race Nationally and Locally

There was a discussion of the politics of remediation (who do we educate? When? Why?);
How do we address attacks on developmental education?
How do we address politicians and engage them in conversation?
How do we connect with other groups in order to make connections? (even outside of traditional academic groups?)
How do we use social media to raise the profile of basic writing?

Meeting challenges and attacks on basic writing programs:

The group discussed the Complete College America initiative;
Developmental courses have been dropped or outlawed in several states;
Their suggestions include a number of ideas that are exactly the work of basic writing;
Their goal is to end “traditional remediation”;
The group feels that the work attacks developmental programs (as a straw man for what’s wrong with education).

There was a discussion also about ways that we can appropriate the language of programs like Complete College American in order to get funding & recognition for our programs.

Another discussion followed the theme of how much “subversive complicity” is enough? Too much? How far do you go?

The group brainstormed ideas to address this:

Have WPA experts visit campus to discuss and evaluate basic writing programs (from our own colleagues);
NADE accreditation (National Association for Developmental Education);
Collect evidence (student success stories);
Accumulate statistics for success;
Advocacy within our own council. We need to be more like ATTW: we need to create awareness for CBW.

This group also wanted to talk about MOOCs, but ran out of time.


Posted in Calls to Action, CBW 2013, CCCC 2013, Who is Basic Writing?

Questions and Answer Session with Victor Villanueva

1. There have been questions and discussion about engaging faculty from other departments & disciplines. One issue that’s come up is what happens when students are kept out of the regular curriculum & faculty outside of basic writing do not engage with those students. How do we make those “introductions” and engage them in the conversation?

One strategy is to marshal the arguments for moving basic writing into a credit-bearing position in the university (rather than making basic writing a gate keeping course).

2. What happens when basic writers move into other classes and find themselves still in conflict with the academy? It’s not that this history goes away as students move into other courses.

“Subversive complicity”: how you move through the system and engage the rhetoric of power/dominant discourse while also maintaining your identity.

“Compliantly revolutionary”: alternate term suggested by the group.

3. Engaging students in a question of “how to get something out of the professor”–a question of agency & students engaging in a practice of figuring out what is helpful from the course.

4. See Victor Villanueva’s syllabi in a new book this week edited by Deborah Teague & Ronald Lunsford (Utah State UP, 2013)

These syllabi show his cycle of writing in working with basic writers & the classroom. For example, the syllabi demonstrate that he doesn’t require revisions: those are a practice of seeing if students can obey.

5. Why do we have students write about themes other than language & consciousness of language? Villanueva suggests that we want students to focus on language, not social topics. What we know and know well is language: why not engage students in that?

6. Hannah Ashley shared a teaching practice of “ghost writing,” having her students ghost write other student narratives in the class to think about the issue of learning language & discourse.

She suggested that perhaps we should “ghost” or “ghost write” with colleagues from other disciplines. We need to take ourselves seriously as we make connections & work in our colleges. Work to get them to see your point-of-view.

7. There are many conversations to be had: psychologists are focusing on cognition (how do we build on that and learn from them?).

8. What is the relationship between “second chance” and the language of “non-assimilation assimilation”?

In part, that language is about a social structure: “second chance” means students failed. It also means that they are an exploitable class. So, Villanueva suggests that we reject that language.

And, education is more than a chance.

Posted in CBW 2013, CCCC 2013, Uncategorized, Who is Basic Writing?

Villanueva, Part 3

Within faculty workshops, our colleagues can be shown that markers in students writing might be markers of other cultural organization.

We can listen, open the door, and learn more about conventions as conventions, discourse as discourse. We need to move into these interdisciplinary spaces to make our work their work and their work our work.

We need to do our work and help students go where they want to go, using academic discourse, without erasing where students have been.

It’s time we started talking basic writing across the curriculum.

Posted in CBW 2013, CCCC 2013, Who is Basic Writing?

Villanueva, Part 2

Villanueva discussed the importance of political economy.

Considering the important question of maintaining political identity while also complying with the dominant ideology/culture, Villanueva invoked the idea of masks, masquerades, passing, jaiba (messing around): how can you be an academic writer without turning into an academic? How do you stay who you are while also playing the game (and seeing it as more than a game).

Villanueva talked about the idea of “Subversive complicity”: how you move through the system and engage the rhetoric of power/dominant discourse while also maintaining your identity.

Villanueva added the idea of jaiba rhetorics as a concept of “messing around,” somewhat like the idea of masks and masquerades and how we think about dealing with playing with identity, jargon, rhetorics, and language in the classroom.

E.G. Villanueva talks to a provost, invokes the language of academia and invokes the language of multiculturalism instead of remediation (back to where we started).

How do we create a rhetoric of survival? We argue for basic writing imitating the discourse of power. We use that rhetoric to make the argument that can be heard; we do this as part of a masquerade to achieve our goals.

But, we need to also engage our colleagues and our students in this work. How do we create an anti-racist pedagogy that uses the discourse of power?

For example, how do you ask students to “translate” academic discourse into their own language and back again, engaging basic writing students in the work of understanding contrastive rhetorics.

Posted in CBW 2013, CCCC 2013, Uncategorized, Who is Basic Writing?

“We Can’t Afford the Luxury of Basic Writing”: Victor Villanueva Talk, Part I

Villanueva began by talking about the story of saving basic writing at University of Washington in the beginning of his career.

He was called to a meeting on the same day his daughter was born and told that “we can’t afford the luxury of basic writing.” The provost contended that English 101 wasn’t remedial but English 100 was. The only difference? The population. Villanueva was able to mount arguments to save the program by focusing on what basic writing did for the university including the importance of acculturation. He said “We don’t remediate, we acculturate.”

Villanueva went on to talk about how we marshal arguments & how we exercise political economy to get what we need.

He then moved to talking about racism and writing programs.

“First year comp has always been remedial, but it was never called that until it began to serve working people, people of color, and the poor.” He reminded us that basic writing was born in the Bronx, in CUNY.

Issues of naming: we refer to “New Students”: as if the university had a sudden realization that about who people who have been in our society all along–this tag differentiates “white” students from “other” students.

Villanueva contends that “There is no basic writing without talking about political economy and racism.”

Part of the problem with multi-culturalism is that it is not assimilation, not anti-racist, and it doesn’t work.

So, how do things change?

Think about the violence of our metaphor for pluralism: a “melting pot.” It’s so violent. Assimilation is the norm. Eventually we all give in to the assimilation demands. But, what does that mean for our students? What does that mean for race and education?

Rather than throw up our hands and say “well, that’s the reality: we have to give into assimilation & the norm, maybe it’s time we begin to infiltrate other spaces.”

Right now, there is no basic writing in writing across the curriculum. What happens if we infiltrate that space and engage with other disciplines? Today, some of the most interesting writing about racism is happening in sociology (writing about racism), psychology (studies of racism), medical profession (written narratives).

Citing the article in The Chronicle of Higher Education this week, “The Second Chance Club” (, Villanueva suggested that we need to move basic writing away from a social work/missionary mode. Instead, we need to engage our colleagues who are working in interesting ways on race, racism, gender, and critical theory (among others) and add our work in writing to their work: integrating the work–yoking critical work and the work of writing & pedagogy.

Posted in CBW 2013, CCCC 2013, Professional Developmwnt, What's New in Basic Writing, Who is Basic Writing?

Live Streaming from CCCC 2013 and More!

Just a reminder that we will be streaming 2 CCCC sessions live! (Technology Gods willing!!!):

Victor Villanueva’s keynote at CBW 2013, Wednesday, 13 March 2013 @ 9:15 am Pacific Time


“There’s Nothing Basic About Basic Writing” session: Thursday, 14 March 2013 @ 10:30 am Pacific Time

For BOTH sessions (technology gods willing!) we will post the URL to the YouTube/Google streaming link.

For BOTH sessions you will be able to leave comments on the YouTube page and/or on the CBW Facebook Page. We will be monitoring both and will bring your questions into the q & a sessions. We’ve never tried this before, so we ask for your patience. We’ll keep you updated before and during the sessions.

Look on the CBW Facebook Page, on the CBW-Listserv and here, on the CBW Blog, for the link the day of the session.

Also, remember that Sheri Rysdam, Sara Webb-Sunderhaus, Anthony Warnke and J. Elizabeth Clark will be live blogging many of the Basic Writing sessions at CCCC! Keep up at throughout the week for posts, pictures, and more!

Posted in CBW 2013, CCCC 2013, Social Media

Meet the 2013 CCCC Bloggers!

Meet the folks who will be working hard to keep you informed about CCCC 2013! Our team will be live blogging, tweeting, and providing commentary on basic writing related sessions!

Sheri Rysdam

Hi all! My name is Sheri Rysdam and I am an Assistant Professor of Basic Composition at Utah Valley University. My research interests are everything related to teaching writing, as well as political economy, contingent labor issues, social class, and methods for responding to student writing.

Sara Webb-Sunderhaus

I’m Sara Webb-Sunderhaus, an assistant (hopefully soon-to-be associate!) professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW), where I coordinate the basic writing program and teach courses in writing, theories of writing, and folklore. My research broadly focuses on issues surrounding literacy, identity, and access; more specifically, I study the literacy practices and beliefs of Appalachians and the literacies and education of basic writers. My work has appeared in The Norton Book of Composition Studies, The Journal of Basic Writing, Community Literacy Journal, Open Words: Access and English Studies, and Reclaiming the Rural: Essays on Literacy, Rhetoric, and Pedagogy. With Kim Donehower, I am developing a new collection entitled Re-reading Appalachia: Literacies of Resistance.

Anthony Warnke

Anthony Warnke is in his first year as a tenure-track English instructor at Green River Community College in Auburn, Washington. Empowering basic writers drives his research interests. He is focused on developing curriculum that engages the literacies that basic writers already bring to the classroom, such as multimedia literacies; creating disciplinary-based basic writing courses; and addressing the needs of non-native English language learners. In his own basic writing pedagogy, he constantly struggles to balance higher-order critical-thinking and analytical skills with sentence-level and structural “correctness.”  Along with teaching basic writing, Anthony is a poet and teaches creative writing.

J. Elizabeth Clark

Hi folks! I’m your regular CBW blogger and current co-chair of CBW. I’ve been a passionate advocate for basic writing and its place in higher education since graduate school where I cut my teeth on teaching in intensive basic writing learning communities. Today, I am privileged to teach at LaGuardia Community College, CUNY where I am a professor of English. I teach basic writing, composition, creative writing, and the liberal arts capstone course. I write and research about the role of technology, social media, and digital rhetoric in higher education, particularly as it is shaping composition curriculums, pedagogy, and assessment. I have worked extensively with LaGuardia’s award winning ePortfolio program since 2002 and use ePortfolio as a signature pedagogy in my courses. I’m looking forward to blogging CCCC and extending the conversation about basic writing!

Posted in CBW 2013, CCCC, CCCC 2013

Prepping for CCCC 2013

Hi Everyone,
We are so excited about CCCC 2013! I’m writing to update you on  several CBW-related items.
First, are you a blogger? As you know, over the past several years, we have worked hard to live-blog many of the basic writing related sessions so that our colleagues who cannot attend CCCC 2013 have access to information about the basic writing related sessions. If you are interested in blogging, please e-mail me off-list at lclark [at] lagcc [dot] cuny [dot] edu.
Second: don’t forget to register for CBW 2013! We have a great program scheduled highlighting race and basic writing. You can view the full schedule here:
Also, Pearson is generously sponsoring a Basic Writing Reception on 3/13/13 at 5 p.m. in the same room as the CBW workshop!
Third: I’ve been asked if CBW can again list all of the basic writing sessions at CCCC. We are happy to do that and to share that information on our blog and Facebook page. To do so, I need your help. I will be very happy to compile the information if you send me:
The number of your panel
The title of your panel
Location & Time
A 2-3 sentence description
Your name
Your presentation title
The titles of any other basic writing presentations on the same panel
Here is an example:
A.17: There’s Nothing Basic about Basic Writing
Location:  Riviera Hotel, Royale Pavilion 6, First Floor
Time:  Thursday 3/14 10:30 AM – 11:45 AM
Join us for a face-to-face exploration of major issues facing Basic Writing faculty and students. This roundtable discussion is the culmination of month-long asynchronous dialogue highlighting issues in Basic Writing.
Chair: John McKinnis Buffalo State College
Co-Chair: Rochelle Rodrigo Old Dominion University
Debra Berry College of Southern Nevada, Las Vegas – Teacher Preparation and Professional Development
J. Elizabeth Clark LaGuardia Community College, CUNY – Teaching with Technology
Elaine Jolayemi Ivy Tech College – Who Are Basic Writers?
Leigh Jonaitis Bergen Community College – Who Are Basic Writers?
Marisa Klages LaGuardia Community College – Teacher Preparation & Professional Development
Carla Maroudas Mt. San Jacinto Community College – Student Placement
Amy Edwards Patterson Moraine Park Technical College – Day-to-Day Life in the Classroom
Ilene Rubenstein College of the Desert – Academic Skills/Writing Centers
Please only send basic writing-related panels. Last year, a number of people sent me information like, “I’m A.17” and I had to look up the information. If you’d like to be listed, would you please send me the complete information for your panel? It will help me to put together the list quickly and efficiently. Thanks!
Looking forward to seeing you all at CCCC 2013!
Posted in CBW 2013, CCCC 2013, What's New in Basic Writing

CBW 2013 Schedule

Hi Folks,

We are very excited to share the completed program for the Council on Basic Writing’s 2013 pre-conference workshop at CCCC: Basic Writing and Race–A Symposium. This is an all day workshop (W06). You can register for the session when you register for CCCC.
We are honored that Victor Villanueva will offer our keynote address this year.
The program also includes highlighted talks by Steve Lamos, Wendy Olson, Scott Lyons, Beatrice Mendez-Newman, Min-Zhan Lu, and Shirley Faulkner-Springfield.
For those who are unable to attend CCCC this year, we will be streaming portions of the CBW conference via Google Hangouts. As in the past, we will also be live blogging. You can find the schedule and information about our blogging and streaming at our Facebook group ( ) and blog (
The complete agenda is below.
Please join us! And, feel free to share this widely.
J. Elizabeth Clark and Sugie Goen-Salter, CBW Co-Chairs
CBW 2013
Basic Writing and Race–A Symposium
9:00 ~ Welcome & Opening Remarks
J. Elizabeth Clark
9:15-10:00 ~ Toward a Political Economy of Basic Writing Programs
William Lalicker, moderator
Victor Villanueva, Keynote Address
One way to define “political economy” is to consider the relations between economics and systems of power, like decision-making bodies. Basic Writing programs have always been subject to rhetorical, legislative, and economic conditions in the ways that traditional first-year programs have not. Villanueva will discuss the rises and falls of basic writing programs from the perspective of political economics as it obtains in rhetoric, including his own experiences in keeping basic writing programs alive.
10:00-10:30 ~ Small Group Response to Victor Villanueva
10:45-12:00 ~ Race, Locality, and the Public Work of Basic Writing
Sugie Goen-Salter, moderator
This session will focus on the public work of Basic Writing, with particular focus (broadly defined) on issues related to race, racial injustice and critical race studies. Working in small groups, participants will explore  topics including:
• Preparing and Supporting Students of Color
• Preparing and Supporting Faculty of Color
• Race and Pedagogical Practices
• Basic Writing and Race Locally and Nationally
• Meeting Challenges and Attacks on Basic Writing Programs
12:00-1:00 ~ Lunch Break
1:00-2:30 ~ Race, Language, and Access: Possible Futures of Basic Writing 
Steve Lamos & Wendy Olson, moderators
Featuring: Scott Lyons, Beatrice Mendez-Newman, Min-Zhan Lu, and Shirley Faulkner-Springfield
An interactive roundtable addresses the following themes: BW and whiteness; the role of BW in Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs); race-conscious BW pedagogies; BW and “Generation 1.5” students; and other related issues. Speakers will offer brief responses to one theme, then move to facilitate a small group discussion. In closing, small groups will report back to the larger group with observations and/or suggestions for future directions.
2:30-4:00 ~ Publishing & Grant Writing Workshop 
Hannah Ashley, “5 Ways In…Tricks of the Trade to Get Yourself Published or Funded”
Susan Naomi Bernstein, “The Nice White Lady Writes About Race: Revising Teaching Developmental Writing 4e”
In this session, workshop participants are invited to bring ideas and/or drafts for articles, abstracts, and grants. Break out groups with published mentors will work to assist participants with publishing and grant questions and concerns.
4:00-5:00 ~ Public Work and Local Contexts 
Greg Glau and Lynn Reid, moderators
This last segment of the day will focus on small group networking, helping basic writing educators to make connections. 
5:00 ~ Immediately following the CBW Workshop, please join us for a Wine, Cheese, and Technologies Reception sponsored by Pearson and CBW.  Our thanks to Pearson!