Writing about writing a college reader by Elizabeth Wardle Douglas Downsz-lib



Want help with the readings in Writing about Writing?

Elizabeth Wardle and Doug Downs have created helpful Assist Tags to help you get the most from each reading. Look at pages 5859 for more details on each tag.

CARS: Territory Look Ahead CARS: Niche Reread CARS: Occupy Read Later Conversation Speed Up Extending Forecasting Framework Making Knowledge Research Question So What?

Look at these readings to see the tags at work:

Chapter 2 Deborah Brandt, Sponsors of Literacy (p. 68)

Chapter 3 James Paul Gee, Literacy, Discourse, and Linguistics: Introduction (p. 274)

Chapter 4 Keith Grant-Davie, Rhetorical Situations and Their Constituents (p. 484)

Chapter 5 Sondra Perl, The Composing Processes of Unskilled College Writers (p. 738)

Then try using the tags yourself as you read the other selections in Writing about Writing.



this page left intentionally blank









DOUG DOWNS Montana State University



FOR BEDFORD/ST. MARTINS Vice President, Editorial, Macmillan Learning Humanities: Edwin Hill Editorial Director, English: Karen S. Henry Senior Publisher for Composition, Business and Technical Writing, Developmental Writing: Leasa Burton

Executive Editor: John E. Sullivan III Executive Development Manager: Jane Carter Developmental Editor: Leah Rang Production Editor: Pamela Lawson Media Producer: Rand Thomas Production Manager: Joe Ford Executive Marketing Manager: Joy Fisher Williams Project Management: Jouve Text Permissions Researcher: Mark Schaefer Permissions Editor: Kalina Ingham Photo Researcher: Susan Doheny Senior Art Director: Anna Palchik Text Design: Laura Shaw Design, Inc. Cover Design: John Callahan Composition: Jouve Printing and Binding: LSC Communications

Copyright 2017, 2014, 2011 by Bedford/St. Martins. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, except as may be expressly permitted by the applicable copyright statutes or in writing by the Publisher.

Manufactured in the United States of America.

109876 fedcba

For information, write: Bedford/St. Martins, 75 Arlington Street, Boston, MA 02116 (617-399-4000)

ISBN 978-1-319-07112-7

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Text acknowledgments and copyrights appear at the back of the book on pages 903906, which constitute an extension of the copyright page. Art acknowledgments and copyrights appear on the same page as the art selections they cover.




Writing about Writing is part of a movement that continues to grow. As composition instructors, we have always focused on teaching students how writing works and on helping them develop ways of thinking that would enable them to succeed as writers in college. We found ourselves increasingly frustrated, however, teaching traditional composition courses based on topics that had nothing to do with writing. It made far more sense to us to have students really engage with writing in the writing course; the best way to do this, we decided, was to adopt a writing about writing approach, introducing students directly to what writing researchers have learned about writing and challenging them to respond by writing and doing research of their own. After years of experimenting with readings and assignments, and watching our colleagues do the same, we developed Writing about Writing, a textbook for first-year composition students that presents the subjects of composition, discourse, and literacy as its content. Heres why we think Writing about Writing is a smart choice for composition courses.

Writing about Writing engages students in a relevant subject.

One of the major goals of the writing course, as we see it, is to move students ideas about language and writing from the realm of the automatic and unconscious to the forefront of their thinking. In conventional composition courses, students are too often asked to write about an arbitrary topic unrelated to writing. In our experience, when students are asked to read and interact with academic scholarly conversations about writing and test their opinions through their own research, they become more engaged with the goals of the writing course and most important they learn more about writing.

Writing about Writing engages students own areas of expertise.

By the time they reach college, students are expert language users with multiple literacies: They are experienced student writers, and theyre engaged in many other discourses as well blogging, texting, instant messaging, posting to social networking sites like Facebook and Snapchat, and otherwise using language and writing on a daily basis. Writing about Writing asks students to work from their own experience to consider how writing works, who they are as writers, and how they use (and dont use) writing. Students might wonder, for example, why they did so poorly on the SAT writing section or why some groups of people use writing that is so specialized it seems intended to leave others out.



This book encourages students to discover how others including Sondra Perl, Deborah Brandt, James Paul Gee, their instructors, and their classmates have answered these questions and then to find out more by doing meaningful research of their own.

Writing about Writing helps students transfer what they learn.

Teachers often assume that students can automatically and easily apply what they learn in a writing course to all their other writing or at the very least, to other college writing. This assumption sees writing and reading as basic universal skills that work the same regardless of situation. Yet research on transfer of learning suggests that there is nothing automatic about it: Learning transfer researchers David Perkins and Gavriel Salomon found that in order to transfer knowledge, students need to explicitly create general principles based on their own experience and learning; to be self-reflective, so that they keep track of what they are thinking and learning as they do it; and to be mindful that is, alert to their surroundings and to what they are doing rather than just doing things automatically and unconsciously. A writing course that takes language, writing, reading, and literacy as its subjects can help students achieve these goals by teaching them to articulate general principles such as Carefully consider what your audience needs and wants this document to do. In addition, it teaches them to reflect on their own reading, writing, and research processes.

Writing about Writing has been extensively class tested and it works.

The principles of this writing-about-writing approach have been well tested and supported by the experience of writing instructors and thousands of students across the country. Writing about Writing was formally class tested in a pilot at the University of Central Florida, an experiment that yielded impressive outcomes in comparative portfolio assessment with more traditional composition courses. Assessment results suggest, among other things, that the writing-about-writing approach had a statistically significant impact on higher-order thinking skills rhetorical analysis, critical thinking about ideas, and using and integrating the ideas of others. The writing-about-writing approach also had a significant impact on how students and teachers engaged in writing as a process. The first and second editions of Writing about Writing were used in a variety of composition programs across the country, and based on positive feedback from those users, we have even greater confidence that this approach and this third edition is successful.




Writing about Writing is organized around concepts and principles from Writing Studies with which we think students should become familiar; we identify these as threshold concepts, and we spend the entire first chapter discussing them in detail, and engaging students in activities to think about how they apply to their lives. Threshold concepts are concepts that learners must become acquainted with in order to progress in that area of study they are gateways to learning. Naming and using threshold concepts is an approach that has been used in the United Kingdom and now increasingly in the United States and other countries to improve teaching and learning in various disciplines and programs, including Writing Studies (for example, see the 2015 publication Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies). Because they are central to work in a particular field but are often assumed and unstated, threshold concepts when explicitly identified can better help students come to understand ideas that are central to that field or phenomenon. Researchers Ray Land and Jan (Erik) Meyer have argued that threshold concepts are

often troublesome and can conflict with common knowledge about a phenomenon. We think that this is particularly true when it comes to writing. Much of what we have learned as a field about writing conflicts with commonly held assumptions about writing. For example, many people believe that good writers are people for whom writing is easy, while research about writing suggests that good writers are people who persist, revise, and are willing to learn from their failures. Threshold concepts are the organizing theme for the third edition of Writing about

Writing, and weve arranged them in a sequence that we believe assists understanding of each subsequent concept:

Chapter 1, Threshold Concepts: Why Do Your Ideas about Writing Matter? introduces and defines threshold concepts and describes some central concepts about writing that conflict with common ideas of writing in popular culture.

Chapter 2, Literacies: How Is Writing Impacted by Our Prior Experiences? engages the threshold concept that our prior experiences deeply impact our writing and literacy practices, or in simpler terms, that our reading and writing past will shape our reading and writing present.

Chapter 3, Individual in Community: How Does Writing Help People Get Things Done? engages the threshold concept that people use texts and discourse in order to do something, to make meaning. And the texts and language they create mediate meaningful activities. People construct meaning through texts and language, and texts construct meaning as people use them.

Chapter 4, Rhetoric: How Is Meaning Constructed in Context? explores the threshold concepts that writing helps people make meaning and get things done, that good writing is dependent on writers, readers, situation, technology, and use, and



therefore that there are always constraints on writing.

Chapter 5, Processes: How Are Texts Composed? engages several threshold concepts about writing, including that writing is a process, all writers have more to learn, and writing is not perfectible.


Because our intention in putting this book together was to invite students directly into scholarly conversations about writing, most readings in the book are articles by rhetoric and composition scholars. We looked for work that was readable by undergraduates, relevant to student experience, effective in modeling how to research and write about writing, and useful for helping students frame and analyze writing-related issues. We drew not only on our own experience with students but also on feedback from a nationwide network of faculty using writing-about-writing approaches to composition and on the feedback of teachers who used the first two editions of the book. The articles in this edition expose students to some of the longest-standing questions and some of the most interesting work in our field, encouraging them to wrestle with concepts were all trying to figure out. Of course, we dont expect first-year students to read these texts like graduate students

or scholars would that is, with a central focus on the content of the readings, for the purposes of critiquing them and extending their ideas. Instead, we intend for them to be used as springboards to exploration of students own writing and reading experiences. The readings and thus this book are not the center of the course; instead, they help students develop language and ideas for thinking through the threshold concepts identified above, and begin exploring them by considering their own experiences with writing, discourse, and literacy, and their (and the fields) open questions. While most readings are scholarly, we include a number of other sorts of texts

throughout this edition. There are new pieces written directly for the student readers of this book, including Chapter 1, with readings on genre theory and rhetorical reading written by us, and an introduction to rhetoric by Doug Downs and a discussion of document design and social justice written by Natasha Jones and Stephanie Wheeler (both in Chapter 4); short pieces by fiction and nonfiction writers (including Anne Lamott, Sandra Cisneros, Barbara Mellix, and Malcolm X); and a research report by the Writing in Digital Environments (WIDE) Research Group led by Jeff Grabill and Bill Hart-Davidson. These readings, combined with the others in the book, help students approach the threshold concepts about writing from a variety of perspectives.


Writing about Writing also includes student voices, with eight pieces of student writing. We



have continued to draw from Young Scholars in Writing, the national peer-reviewed journal of undergraduate research in Writing Studies and rhetoric, and from Stylus, the University of Central Florida Writing Programs peer-reviewed first-year student publication. Given their nature as reprinted scholarly articles, we have treated the student essays the same as we have treated the professional essays: They are framed and introduced and accompanied by questions and activities. We want the students who use this book to see other students as participants in the ongoing conversations about writing; we hope this will enable them to see themselves as potential contributors to these conversations. This time around, rather than placing all the student readings at the end of the chapter, we have integrated them into the chapters where we thought they best fit into the conversation.


The material presented in this book is challenging. Weve found that students need guidance in order to engage with it constructively, and many instructors appreciate support in teaching it. Therefore, weve scaffolded the material in ways that help make individual readings more accessible to students and that help them build toward mastery of often complex rhetorical concepts.

The book begins with a chapter written directly to a student audience. Chapter 1 not only explains the purpose of the book, but explains why and how the book is organized around threshold concepts of Writing Studies and provides extended explanation of these concepts. This chapter also provides an introduction to genre theory and rhetorical reading in order to help students engage in the readings of this book (and the rest of their college experience). We outline some reading strategies and an overview of John Swaless CARS model of research introductions to assist with this. There you will also find a reading by Stuart Greene that asks students to think about this class and book as inquiry, and a reading by Richard Straub that helps prepare students for responding to each others writing. Reflective activities throughout the chapter as well as sections of reading support and tips on Using This Book including a descriptive guide to the Reading Assist Tags feature prepare students to engage with Writing about Writing.

Chapters 25 begin with a chapter introduction that explains the chapters threshold concepts, summarizes the chapters content and goals, and overviews each reading and its central ideas by placing it in the larger conversation at play within the chapter. These introductions are robust discussions of background knowledge and principles that help students better approach the threshold concepts the chapter includes.

Each reading begins with a Framing the Reading section offering background on the author and the text as well as Getting Ready to Read suggestions for activities to do before reading and questions to ask during reading.



Each reading is followed by two sets of questions: Questions for Discussion and Journaling, which can be used in class or for homework, and Applying and Exploring Ideas, which recommends medium-scale reading-related writing activities (both individual and group). A Meta Moment concludes the post-reading question set and asks students to reflect on the selections ideas in the context of the chapters threshold concept and of their own writing experiences. These questions and activities are designed to make teachers jobs easier by providing a variety of prompts that have been class tested by others.

Each chapter ends with the Writing Assignments section. Building on one or more of the readings from the chapter, assignments are designed to help students achieve the goals outlined in the chapter introduction. Though these assignments hardly scratch the surface of whats possible, these have proven to be favorites with us, our students, and other teachers.

The book includes a glossary of technical terms in composition that students will encounter in their readings. Terms in the glossary, such as rhetorical situation and discourse, are noted in the chapter and reading introductions via bold print.

A note on citation styles.

While the selection introductions reflect current MLA style from the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook (2016) in citation and documentation, other material in the book, all previously published, remains written in the citation styles used by the journals and books in which they were originally published, current at those times. This means you should expect to see a great deal of variation from current MLA, APA, CMS, or journal-specific style guidelines a decision that we hope will provide instructors with an excellent starting point for conversation about how citation actually works in the real world of academic publication over time.


The third edition features eight new professional essays. Selections by authors such as Sandra Cisneros (Only Daughter), popular in many first-year writing courses, are offered through a writing-about-writing lens to promote and understand literacy. Now integrated throughout Chapters 25, readings on multimodality and on technology in writing, such as Jim Ridolfo and Dnielle Nicole DeVosss Composing for Recomposition: Rhetorical Velocity and Delivery and Stacey Piggs Coordinating Constant Invention: Social Medias Role in Distributed Work, relate to our evolving conceptions of writing in a networked and



digital age. Other notable new additions include Vershawn Ashanti Youngs Naw, We Straight: An Argument Against Code Switching; James M. Corders Argument as Emergence, Rhetoric as Love; and Liane Robertson, Kara Taczak, and Kathleen Blake Yanceys Notes toward a Theory of Prior Knowledge. Six of the eight student essays in this edition are also new. Now dispersed through each

chapter to show the importance and relevance of students engagement with Writing Studies, these student texts present topics relevant to students today: explorations of literacy by rejecting labels of remedial writing (Arturo Tejada, Jr. et al.), rhetorical analyses of social media and library catalog pages (Komysha Hassan), studies of bilingual writing processes (Lucas Pasqualin and Alcir Santos Neto), and more.


The new Chapter 1, Threshold Concepts: Why Do Your Ideas about Writing Matter?, explains the ideas and rationale of the writing-about-writing approach to students directly. Students are introduced to the threshold concepts that frame the chapters in Writing about Writing with relatable examples and conversational language. A new section introduces genre and rhetorical reading as threshold concepts that assist academic reading and writing, providing a foundation for students as they engage with articles of Writing Studies scholarship. The Write Reflectively and Try Thinking Differently activities get students writing and thinking actively about each threshold concept, and Questions for Discussion and Journaling and Applying and Exploring Ideas allow students to reflect on the entire chapter and their conceptions of writing from the beginning of the course.


Chapters 25 each present one foundational or challenging selection as a Tagged Reading. These selections feature two types of Reading Assist Tags: Genre Cues to help students see and understand genre conventions and rhetorical moves, and Reading Cues such as Look Ahead and Reread to help students find and understand the key points of each article. A fresh design color-codes the two different tags and provides extended commentary for each cue below the main text, but remains in the margins to allow annotation and flexibility for working with the readings. A two-page chart in Chapter 1 (pages 5859) explains each tags meaning and function and serves as a useful reference for students throughout the course.


New and revised glossary terms such as ecology, embodiment, and velocity present more coverage of key concepts of writing, both the concepts presented in this editions reading selections as well as terminology from the evolving field of Writing Studies.



ECOLOGY An ecology is, literally, the interactions among groups of living things and their environments (and the scientific study of those interactions). More broadly, ecology has come to refer to any network of relationships among beings and their material surroundings. In rhetorical terms, ecology refers to the web of relationships and interactions between all the rhetors and all the material in a rhetorical situation. Like other meanings of ecology, it is difficult to define the boundaries of a rhetorical ecology because elements in an ecology will also connect to elements outside the ecology.

EMBODIED, EMBODIMENT Rhetorical interaction happens with, to, and by beings with material bodies. The term embodiment reminds us that such interaction is contingent on the bodies that give it shape. It is easy to assume that rhetorical interaction is simply ideas worked on mentally apart from bodies; when we look for how rhetorical interaction is embodied, we remember that the interaction depends on material bodies as well as ideas.

VELOCITY Based on the term from physics meaning movement at some rate in some direction, rhetorical theorists use velocity to describe how a text moves or is transformed through time and space. A text may be written into new forms or taken to new places. Analysis of velocity attends to both direction where the text goes or how it is transformed and rate how quickly the transformation takes place. The concept of velocity is available not just to analysts but to rhetors themselves, who can compose and inscribe a text with a specific velocity in mind to begin with.


This edition features seven new Writing Assignments, now designed to be more clearly visible at the end of each chapter. These engaging projects are class-tested favorites that respond to the concepts presented in the new reading selections and include a challenge to students to explore their conceptions about writing, reading, and research; a reflection on gaining authority in new discourse communities; and an analysis of rhetorical velocity in social media.


Some teachers wont need any supplements at all, including the discussion questions and major assignment options. But we have designed the book to be as accessible and supportive as possible to composition instructors with a wide range of experience, including new graduate students and very busy adjuncts. Toward that end, we provide a revised instructors resource manual written by Matt Bryan, which builds on the previous two editions written by Deborah Weaver and Lindee Owens. All three of these instructors are teacher-trainers at the University of Central Florida, who themselves piloted an early



version of this book and taught the material in it to a number of other composition teachers there. This material, bound together with the student text in a special Instructors Edition, includes the following:

frequently asked questions

sample course calendars

chapter overviews

lists of key vocabulary for each chapter

key student outcomes for each chapter

a list of readings that can help teach key student outcomes

summaries and take-home points for each reading

supplemental activities that help teach to each outcome

The manual is also available for download on the instructors resources tab on the catalog page for Writing about Writing at macmillanlearning.com.

Acknowledgments We came to writing-about-writing independently of one another, in different ways, and became better at it as a result of working together. David Russell was a mentor for us both. Elizabeth came to writing-about-writing as a result of her dissertation research, which Russell chaired and supported. Doug came to it as a result of questions about building better research pedagogy, directly fueled by Russells work on the history of college research-writing instruction and his chapter in Joseph Petraglias Reconceiving Writing. Initially, Elizabeths interest was theoretical (this might be an interesting idea) while Dougs was quite practical (he designed and studied a writing-about-writing class for his dissertation). We discovered each others common interest through dialog on the WPA-L listserv, two independent clauses and a long-term collaboration was born. It is fair to say that neither of us would have written this book without the other, as we both seem to get a lot more done when working collaboratively. (We remember vividly two hours in the sunshine at the University of Delaware, at the 2004 WPA conference, when we took our first steps at figuring out collaboration.) So, if its not too corny, we would like to acknowledge collaboration in general, our collaboration in particular, and tenure and promotion systems at our institutions that have recognized collaborative work for the valid, challenging, and rewarding process it is. To many, many people colleagues, mentors, and friends we owe a deep debt of

gratitude for putting the ideas grounding Writing about Writing in the air. In addition, over



the five years that it took to build the first edition of this book, and the three years we planned and wrote the second edition, and in the year and a half it took to write the third edition, we met many wonderful teacher-scholars who inspired us to keep going. Over many dinners, SIGs, conference panels, e-mail discussions, and drinks, we learned and are still learning a lot from them. A partial list of people who helped us start on this path or rethink it and make it better includes Linda Adler-Kassner, Anis Bawarshi, Barb Bird, Shannon Carter, Dana Driscoll, Heidi Estrem, Michelle LaFrance, Moriah McCracken, Susan McLeod, Laurie McMillan, Michael Michaud, Michael Murphy, Sarah Read, Jan Rieman, David Russell, Betsy Sargent, Jody Shipka, David Slomp, Susan Thomas, Jennifer Wells, Kathi Yancey, and Leah Zuidema. Each of us is also deeply indebted to the wonderful teachers, scholars, and students at

our own institutions who have worked with this curriculum and pushed our thinking on what is possible in a writing-about-writing classroom. At UCF, some of these people include Matt Bryan, Angela Rounsaville, Debbie Weaver, Lindee Owens, Mark Hall, Dan Martin, Matt McBride, Adele Richardson, Nichole Stack, Mary Tripp, and Thomas Wright. At Montana State, some of these people include Jean Arthur, Jess Carroll, Glen Chamberlain, Jill Davis, ZuZu Feder, Jake Henan, Kimberly Hoover, Katie Jo LaRiviere, Miles Nolte, Ashley Rives, Kiki Rydell, Mark Schlenz, and Aaron Yost. Many of these people are now on the FYC as Writing Studies listserv; members of the

Writing about Writing Network founded by Betsy Sargent; participants in or leaders of the CCCC standing group, the Writing about Writing Development Group; or contributors to a forthcoming edited collection of research on the approach edited by Doug Downs, Moriah McCracken, Barb Bird, and Jan Rieman. Through such interaction, they continue to develop research projects, create conference presentations and workshops, and inspire us and one another with their curricular creativity. Writing-about-writing students have also been given a national platform to publish their work, thanks to the editorial board of the national, peer-reviewed undergraduate journal of Writing Studies, Young Scholars in Writing. Editor Laurie Grobman created a First-year Writing Feature (continued as the Spotlight on First-year Writing under the editorship of Jane Greer) co-edited over time by Shannon Carter, Doug Downs, David Elder, Heidi Estrem, Patti Hanlon-Baker, Holly Ryan, Heather Bastian, and Angela Glotfelter. We are grateful to those instructors who gave us valuable feedback as we worked on

this new edition: Rebecca Day Babcock, University of TexasPermain Basin; Matthew Bryan, University of Central Florida; Ellen C. Carillo, University of Connecticut; Colin Charlton, University of TexasPan American; Jonikka Charlton, University of TexasPan American; Geoffrey Clegg, Arkansas State University; E. Dominguez Barajas, University of Arkansas; Dana Driscoll, Oakland University; Carolyn Fitzpatrick, University of Maryland; Alanna Frost, University of Alabama, Huntsville; Gina Hanson, California State University; Krystal Hering, Des Moines Area Community College; Kim Hoover, Montana State



University; Michael D. Johnson, Ohio University; Joseph Jones, University of Memphis; Erik Juergensmeyer, Fort Lewis College; Jessica Kester, Daytona State College; Cat Mahaffey, University of North CarolinaCharlotte; Jill McCracken, University of South FloridaSt. Petersburg; Janine Morris, University of Cincinnati; Melissa Nicolas, University of Nevada; Miles Nolte, Montana State University; Juli Parrish, University of Denver; Pegeen Reichert Powell, Columbia College; Rhonda Powers, University of Memphis; Sarah Read, DePaul University; Jan Rieman, University of North CarolinaCharlotte; Gregory Robinson, Nevada State College; Kevin Roozen, University of Central Florida; Albert Rouzie, Ohio University; John H. Whicker, Fontbonne University; Gail York, Appalachian State University; Sarah Zurhellen, Appalachian State University. We owe a massive thank you to Bedford/St. Martins, and to Leasa Burton and Joan

Feinberg in particular, who had the vision to believe that this book might really find an audience if they published it. To all the Bedford crew who made it real the first time and improved it the second and third times, we are deeply grateful. We are grateful to John Sullivan, our second edition editor, who unfailingly believed (and continues to believe) in our ideas and vision, and encouraged others to trust us when our ideas might not immediately seem possible; his mentorship and advocacy on the second edition helped push this book to a new place. This third go-round, Leah Rang had the unenviable task of corralling us along the revision path while we struggled with many other competing commitments. To her we owe the follow-through to make the reading assist tags and improved design a reality. Ultimately, our students deserve the most acknowledgment. They have inspired us to

keep teaching writing about writing. They have demonstrated that the focus is one that continues to excite and motivate, and their ideas continue to inspire and teach us.



With Bedford/St. Martins, You Get More At Bedford, providing support to teachers and their students who use our books and digital tools is our top priority. The Bedford/St. Martins English Community is now our home for professional resources, featuring Bedford Bits, our popular blog site with new ideas for the composition classroom. Join us to connect with our authors and your colleagues at community.macmillan.com where you can download titles from our professional resource series, review projects in the pipeline, sign up for webinars, or start a discussion. In addition to this dynamic online community and book-specific instructor resources, we offer digital tools, custom solutions, and value packages to support both you and your students. We are committed to delivering the quality and value that youve come to expect from



Bedford/St. Martins, supported as always by the power of Macmillan Learning. To learn more about or to order any of the following products, contact your Bedford/St. Martins sales representative or visit the website at macmillanlearning.com.


Bedford/St. Martins offers affordable formats a paperback version and an electronic version allowing students to choose the one that works best for them. For details about popular e-book formats from our e-book partners, visit macmillanlearning.com/ebooks.


Add value to your text by packaging one of the following resources with Writing about Writing. To learn more about package options for any of the following products, contact your Bedford/St. Martins sales representative or visit macmillanlearning.com. Writers Help 2.0 is a powerful online writing resource that helps students find answers

whether they are searching for writing advice on their own or as part of an assignment.

Smart search. Built on research with more than 1,600 student writers, the smart search in Writers Help 2.0 provides reliable results even when students use novice terms, such as flow and unstuck.

Trusted content from our best-selling handbooks. Choose Writers Help 2.0, Hacker Version, or Writers Help 2.0, Lunsford Version, and ensure that students have clear advice and examples for all of their writing questions.

Diagnostics that help establish a baseline for instruction. Assign diagnostics to identify areas of strength and areas for improvement on topics related to grammar and reading and to help students plan a course of study. Use visual reports to track performance by topic, class, and student as well as comparison reports that track improvement over time.

Adaptive exercises that engage students. Writers Help 2.0 includes LearningCurve, game-like online quizzing that adapts to what students already know and helps them focus on what they need to learn.

Student access is packaged with Writing about Writing at a significant discount. Order ISBN 978-1-319-10777-2 for Writers Help 2.0, Hacker Version, or ISBN 978-1-319-10780- 2 for Writers Help 2.0, Lunsford Version, to ensure your students have easy access to online writing support. Students who rent a book or buy a used book and instructors can purchase access to Writers Help 2.0 at macmillanlearning.com/writershelp2.

LaunchPad Solo for Readers and Writers



allows students to work on whatever they need help with the most. At home or in class, students learn at their own pace, with instruction tailored to each students unique needs. LaunchPad Solo for Readers and Writers features:

Pre-built units that support a learning arc. Each easy-to-assign unit is comprised of a pre-test check, multimedia instruction and assessment, and a post-test that assesses what students have learned about critical reading, writing process, using sources, grammar, style, and mechanics. Dedicated units also offer help for multilingual writers.

Diagnostics that help establish a baseline for instruction. Assign diagnostics to identify areas of strength and areas for improvement on topics related to grammar and reading and to help students plan a course of study. Use visual reports to track performance by topic, class, and student as well as comparison reports that track improvement over time.

A video introduction to many topics. Introductions offer an overview of the units topic, and many include a brief, accessible video to illustrate the concepts at hand.

Adaptive quizzing for targeted learning. Most units include LearningCurve, game-like adaptive quizzing that focuses on the areas in which each student needs the most help.

The ability to monitor student progress. Use our gradebook to see which students are on track and which need additional help with specific topics.

LaunchPad Solo for Readers and Writers can be packaged at a significant discount. Order ISBN 978-1-319-10761-1 to ensure your students can take full advantage. Visit macmillanlearning.com/readwrite for more information.


You have a lot to do in your course. Bedford/St. Martins wants to make it easy for you to find the support you need and to get it quickly.

Instructors Manual for Writing about Writing, Third Edition,

is available as a PDF that can be downloaded from the Bedford/St. Martins online catalog at the page for Writing about Writing. In addition to chapter overviews and teaching tips, the instructors manual includes answers to Frequently Asked Questions, sample syllabi, key vocabulary and student learning objectives for each chapter, summaries of reading selections, and classroom activities.



this page left intentionally blank




Elizabeth Wardle is Howe Professor of English and Director of the Roger and Joyce Howe Center for Writing Excellence at Miami University (OH). She was Chair of the Department of Writing and Rhetoric at the University of Central Florida (UCF), and Director of Writing Programs at UCF and University of Dayton. These experiences fed her interest in how students learn and repurpose what they know in new settings. With Linda Adler-Kassner, she is co-editor of Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies, winner of the WPA Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Discipline (2016).

Doug Downs is Associate Professor of Writing Studies as well as Director of the Core Writing Program in the Department of English at Montana State University (Bozeman). His interests are in writing, research, and reading instruction at the college level, especially related to first-year composition and undergraduate research. He is currently editor of Young Scholars in Writing, the national peer-reviewed journal of undergraduate research on writing and rhetoric. His most recent research projects focus on students reading practices in an age of screen-based literacy, and on learning transfer from first-year writing courses to students writing in their majors.



this page left intentionally blank




Preface for Instructors v About the Authors xix

CHAPTER 1 Threshold Concepts: Why Do Your Ideas about Writing Matter?


INTRODUCTION TO THE CONVERSATION 1 Why Study Writing? 2 Two Stories about Writing 3 Conceptions: With Our Thoughts We Make the World 5

THRESHOLD CONCEPTS OF WRITING 6 Writing Is Not Just Something People Do, But Something People Study 7

Writing Is Impacted by Prior Experiences 8

Writing Helps People Make Meaning and Get Things Done, But There Are Always Constraints 10

Good Writing Is Dependent on Writers, Readers, Situation, Technology, and Use 12

Writing Is a Process, All Writers Have More to Learn, and Writing Is Not Perfectible 15

THRESHOLD CONCEPTS THAT ASSIST ACADEMIC READING AND WRITING 16 Genres: Writing Responds to Repeating Situations through Recognizable Forms


Genre Features of Scholarly Articles: John Swaless, Create a Research Space (CARS) Model of Research Introductions 21

Rhetorical Reading: Texts Are People Talking 24


STUART GREENE, Argument as Conversation: The Role of Inquiry in



Writing a Researched Argument 31

Explains how scholarly inquiry is a different kind of research and argument from the kinds we encounter in our daily lives or often even in early schooling.

RICHARD STRAUB, Responding Really Responding to Other Students Writing 44

Provides advice on how to respond effectively to peer writing.

USING THIS BOOK 56 Getting the Most out of Your Readings 56 Reading Assist Tags 57




Challenging and Exploring Your Conceptions about Writing, Reading, and Research 62

CHAPTER 2 Literacies: How Is Writing Impacted by Our Prior Experiences?


DEBORAH BRANDT, Sponsors of Literacy [TAGGED READING] 68

Analyzes the idea of literacy sponsorship and demonstrates its application across various case studies.

SANDRA CISNEROS, Only Daughter 101

Illustrates the notion of literacy sponsorship with a short narration about her struggle to gain her fathers approval for her writing.

MALCOLM X, Learning to Read 106

Narrates how and why he learned to read in prison, and the impact of his early life on his literate learning.

VICTOR VILLANUEVA, Excerpt from Bootstraps: From an American Academic of Color 116

Describes his own literate experiences and how they are intertwined with his cultural background.




WALLACE, AND SONIA CASTANEDA, Challenging Our Labels: Rejecting the Language of Remediation [FIRST-YEAR STUDENT TEXT] 130

A collaborative project by five students placed in a remedial writing course and labeled not yet proficient writers, in which they use what they learned in their first-year writing course to challenge their schools harmful labeling practices.

VERSHAWN ASHANTI YOUNG, Nah, We Straight: An Argument Against Code Switching 148

Argues that teaching students to code switch between standard English and their home Englishes creates a kind of linguistic segregation that suggests some languages and, by extension, some identities are inferior to others.

BARBARA MELLIX, From Outside, In 172

Shows the many ways identity is enmeshed with language, recounting how Mellixs current experience of writing is shaped by her past experiences in particular places and times.

LIANE ROBERTSON, KARA TACZAK, AND KATHLEEN BLAKE YANCEY, Notes toward a Theory of Prior Knowledge 184

Explores how people use knowledge they previously learned in order to succeed in new situations a key aspect of transferring knowledge from one situation to another.

NANCY SOMMERS, I Stand Here Writing 212

A short study in invention, as Sommers writes her thought processes in tracing where ideas, and ideas for how to say those ideas, come from.

DONALD M. MURRAY, All Writing Is Autobiography 223

Argues that all forms of writing include the writer, even apparently objective or scientific forms.

LUCAS PASQUALIN, Dont Panic: A Hitchhikers Guide to My Literacy [FIRST-YEAR STUDENT TEXT] 236

A students literacy narrative, focusing on the literacy sponsorship of books and family in his bilingual literacy formation.


Report on how college students experience, use, and value new writing technologies and environments in the larger context of their writing lives.



WRITING ABOUT LITERACIES: WRITING ASSIGNMENTS 262 Literacy Narrative 262 Group Analysis of Literacy History 264 Linguistic Observation and Analysis 267

CHAPTER 3 Individual in Community: How Does Writing Help People Get Things Done? 270

JAMES PAUL GEE, Literacy, Discourse, and Linguistics: Introduction [TAGGED READING] 274

Introduces the concepts of dominant, nondominant, primary, and secondary Discourses in order to discuss how people are socialized through language.

TONY MIRABELLI, Learning to Serve: The Language and Literacy of Food Service Workers 298

Draws on theories about language in communities in order to examine how workers and patrons in a diner interact through language and texts.

ANN M. JOHNS, Discourse Communities and Communities of Practice: Membership, Conflict, and Diversity 319

Explains the concept of discourse communities and focuses on how and why conflicts occur in them, particularly in academic communities.

PERRI KLASS, Learning the Language 343

Demonstrates how groups of people such as medical professionals use language and texts in specialized ways as they work to accomplish their goals together.

LUCILLE P. McCARTHY, A Stranger in Strange Lands: A College Student Writing across the Curriculum 348

Follows an undergraduate student, Dave, through three different classes in order to understand how he approaches and understands writing tasks in different settings.

SEAN BRANICK, Coaches Can Read, Too: An Ethnographic Study of a Football Coaching Discourse Community [FIRST-YEAR STUDENT TEXT]


Analyzes coaching interviews and speeches in order to argue that football coaches constitute a discourse community that entails complex textual, interpersonal, and situational literacies.



DONNA KAIN AND ELIZABETH WARDLE, Activity Theory: An Introduction for the Writing Classroom 395

Presents a brief overview of activity theory appropriate for undergraduate students, and describes how activity theory can be used to analyze texts as they mediate activity in different contexts.

ELIZABETH WARDLE, Identity, Authority, and Learning to Write in New Workplaces 407

Describes the struggle an employee faces as he tries to communicate in a new workplace setting. Uses activity theory to analyze some of his communicative failures.

VICTORIA MARRO, The Genres of Chi Omega: An Activity Analysis [FIRST- YEAR STUDENT TEXT] 426

Draws on activity theory and genre theory to analyze how a sororitys genres are used across chapters in order to further the goals of the organization.


Analysis of Gees Claims 439 Discourse Community Ethnography Report 440 Activity Analysis 443 Reflection on Gaining Authority in New Discourse Communities 445

CHAPTER 4 Rhetoric: How Is Meaning Constructed in Context? 447

DOUG DOWNS, Rhetoric: Making Sense of Human Interaction and Meaning-Making 457

Overviews key principles of rhetoric by integrating several theories of rhetoric into a narrative of how writing is rhetorical.

KEITH GRANT-DAVIE, Rhetorical Situations and Their Constituents [TAGGED READING] 484

Retheorizes rhetorical situation by defining and giving an extended example of elements that constitute this theory.

JIM RIDOLFO AND DNIELLE NICOLE DEVOSS, Composing for Recomposition: Rhetorical Velocity and Delivery 512

Introduces the principle that texts move across time and space and that writers can strategically write their texts to facilitate such remixing and re-presentation, especially in a digital space.



JAMES E. PORTER, Intertextuality and the Discourse Community 542

Explains and analyzes numerous examples of intertextuality, texts being comprised of other, earlier texts and writers work.

CHRISTINA HAAS AND LINDA FLOWER, Rhetorical Reading Strategies and the Construction of Meaning 559

Examines reading as a meaning-constructing activity shaped by rhetorical principles, suggesting that readers who think rhetorically are more powerful readers.

MARGARET KANTZ, Helping Students Use Textual Sources Persuasively 579

Extends Haas and Flowers work on rhetorical reading to the student research-writing situation, suggesting the teaching of rhetorical reading of sources.

JIM W. CORDER, Argument as Emergence, Rhetoric as Love 600

Argues that people dont make arguments but rather are arguments, and that because conflict between people is a clash of their life narratives, conflict resolution depends on peoples willingness to hear one anothers stories.

ANNALISE SIGONA, Impression Management on Facebook and Twitter: Where Are People More Likely to Share Positivity and Negativity with Their Audiences? [FIRST-YEAR STUDENT TEXT] 619

Studies how people post differently on Facebook and Twitter in order to convey different self-images to different groups of social media users in their lives.

DENNIS BARON, From Pencils to Pixels: The Stages of Literacy Technologies 632

Offers a tour through the history of writing technologies from earliest to current times, with particular emphasis on what it means that todays writers rarely understand that pencils were once considered high writing technology.

NATASHA N. JONES AND STEPHANIE K. WHEELER, Document Design and Social Justice: A Universal Design for Documents 654

Studies document design from the perspective of accessibility and usability, arguing that writers need to design for all kinds of users rather than stereotypically abled ones.

KOMYSHA HASSAN, Digital Literacy and the Making of Meaning: How Format Affects Interpretation in the University of Central Florida Libraries Search Interface [FIRST-YEAR STUDENT TEXT] 674



Tracks students use of a library resources web page in order to investigate how the pages design helps students understand the resources offered.

WRITING ABOUT RHETORIC: WRITING ASSIGNMENTS 692 Rhetorical Analysis of a Previous Writing Experience 692 Rhetorical Reading Analysis: Reconstructing a Texts Context, Exigence, Motivations, and Aims 694 Mapping a Rhetorical Ecology 697 Analyzing Rhetorical Velocity in Social Media 701

CHAPTER 5 Processes: How Are Texts Composed? 706

STACEY PIGG, Coordinating Constant Invention: Social Medias Role in Distributed Work 711

Examines one professional writers use of blogs and other social media in his work, particularly focusing on how social media establish the writers credibility with other writers.

SONDRA PERL, The Composing Processes of Unskilled College Writers [TAGGED READING] 738

Classic observational study of inexperienced writers composing, emphasizing patterns emerging from carefully coded texts and notes.

ALCIR SANTOS NETO, Tug of War: The Writing Process of a Bilingual Writer and His Struggles [FIRST-YEAR STUDENT TEXT] 774

Literacy narrative of a student who invents in one language and then translates to another as he composes school papers.

MIKE ROSE, Rigid Rules, Inflexible Plans, and the Stifling of Language: A Cognitivist Analysis of Writers Block 787

Based on observation of a number of students, this article reports different strategies for writing used by fluent versus blocked writers, finding that the common denominator for blocking is interference caused by adherence to rigid rules.

JOSEPH M. WILLIAMS, The Phenomenology of Error 803

Criticizes critics of student writing who fail to observe that how much readers notice and care about errors in text depends on who they think the author is.




Uses a literacy narrative to explore a writers reaction to rhetorical constraints imposed by teachers and by himself.

CAROL BERKENKOTTER, Decisions and Revisions: The Planning Strategies of a Publishing Writer, AND DONALD M. MURRAY, Response of a Laboratory Rat or, Being Protocoled 830

Methodological exploration of early process-research protocols, comparing lab-based process observations against naturalistic observation of professional writer Donald Murray.

ANNE LAMOTT, Shitty First Drafts 852

Famous essay on the nature of drafting and revision, emphasizing the frequent need to let early drafts be bad drafts.

NANCY SOMMERS, Revision Strategies of Student Writers and Experienced Adult Writers 858

Comparative study of how the two stated groups of writers approached and accomplished revision, including their assumptions about the nature and purpose of revision.

WRITING ABOUT PROCESSES: WRITING ASSIGNMENTS 873 Autoethnography 873 Portrait of a Writer 876 Writers Process Search 878

Glossary 885 Works Cited 901 Acknowledgments 903 Index 907





Why Do Your Ideas about Writing Matter?

An image of writing in the twenty-first century: digital, networked, collaborative, screen- based, and interactive.

efore you read this chapter, jot down your ideas about the following:

Writing is .

Research is .

Good writers do or are .

Good writing is .

At the end of the chapter we will ask you to revisit your ideas to see if they have changed. In fact, throughout the book, we will ask you to note how and what you think about writing



so that you can return to your ideas, track how they change, and, most importantly, see whether they impact what you do as a writer.



Introduction to the Conversation

Have you ever wondered why every teacher seems to have a different set of rules for writing? Or why writing seems to be more difficult for some people than for others? Or why some people use big words when they dont have to? This book invites you to explore questions such as these by reading research about writing, comparing your own writing experiences with those of others, and finding your own answers by conducting research of your own through your own research and writing. This book does not tell you how to write. It does not contain step-by-step advice about

how to draft your paper or how to conduct research. Instead, it introduces you to research about writing conducted in the field of writing studies,1 much as your textbooks in biology or psychology introduce you to the research of those fields. Writing studies researchers study how writing works, how people write, and how best to teach writing. From this book, then, youll learn about the subject writing just as you would learn about biology from a biology textbook or about psychology from a psychology textbook. Writing about Writing asks you to think about writing as something we know about, not just something we do. It offers you these kinds of learning:

WRITING STUDIES Writing Studies is one of the terms used to describe a field or discipline that takes writing and composing as its primary objects of study. Another term commonly used to describe this field of study is Rhetoric and Composition. Most of the readings in this book are written by Writing Studies scholars.

Deeper understanding of whats going on with your own writing and how writing works

Knowledge about writing that you can take with you to help you navigate other writing situations

Experience engaging with scholarly articles and other research

The ability to conduct inquiry-driven research on unanswered questions




Why is it helpful to learn about writing rather than simply be told how to write? What good will this do you as a writer? We think that changing what you know about writing can change the way you write.

Much of the research in this book questions everyday assumptions about writing such as the idea that you cant use your own voice in writing for school, or that writing is just easy for some people and hard for others, or that literacy is only about how well you can read. If you change your ideas about what writing is supposed to be, youre likely to do things differently more effectively when you write.

VOICE Voice is the way a writer sounds in a text, or the extent to which you can hear a writer in his or her text. The definition of this term has changed over time. It has been used to refer to authenticity in writing, as well as to a written text that seems to be true to who its author is and what he or she wants to say. Author bell hooks has argued that finding a voice or coming to voice can be seen as an act of resistance. In Writing about Writing we use the term voice to refer to a writers ability to speak with some authority and expertise deriving from his or her own experiences and knowledge. According to this view, writers have multiple voices, any one of which may find expression, depending on the precise context of utterance.

LITERACY, LITERATE Literacy denotes fluency in a given practice. In its original use, literacy referred to alphabetic literacy that is, to fluency in reading and writing letters, or alphabetic text. This kind of literacy was contrasted with orality, which was characterized as a lack of literacy. Over time, however, in academic circles, the meaning of literacy and literate has broadened to encompass fluency in other areas; most academics therefore now use the term literacies (plural) and discuss digital, electronic, musical, visual, oral, mathematical, and gaming literacies, among many other kinds.

There are additional advantages to studying writing in a writing course:

Writing is relevant to all of us. Most of us do it every day, and all of us live in a world in which writing, reading, and other related uses of language are primary means of communication.

What you learn about writing now will be directly useful to you long after the class ends. In college, at work, and in everyday life, writing well can have a measurable impact on your current and future success.

You already have a great deal of experience with writing and reading, so you are a more knowledgeable investigator of these subjects than you might be of a lot of others.

Doing research on writing will give you the opportunity to contribute new knowledge



about your subject, not simply gather and repeat what many other people have already said.

CONTRIBUTE, CONTRIBUTION In academic contexts, one makes a contribution by adding to an ongoing conversation on a given research subject, issue, problem, or question. In Writing Studies, contribution is commonly discussed in terms of Kenneth

Burkes parlor metaphor, where Burke describes scholarship as an ongoing conversation at a party: You arrive late and other guests are already in conversation; you join one conversation by listening for a while and then, once you have something to add, making a contribution to the conversation; after a time, you join another conversation, while the first one continues without you.




You might be thinking that were making writing harder than it has to be: Cant people just tell you how to write for any new situation or task? Even if studying about writing can help you write differently and better, wouldnt it be more direct to simply tell you the rules and let you practice and memorize them? That would work if the traditional story about writing that most of us learn in school were

accurate. In that traditional story, writing is a basic grammatical skill of transcribing speech to print, a skill that can transfer (be used again) unaltered from the situation in which you learn it (high school and college English classes, usually) to any other writing situation. Because, that story goes, the rules of English dont change. English is English, whether youre in a chemistry class or the boardroom of a bank. And, according to that story, what makes good writing is following all the rules and avoiding errors: Just dont do anything wrong and your writing will be okay. According to this view of writing, people who are good at writing are people who break the fewest rules and write with the greatest ease; writing is hard because following the rules is hard; so if you can learn the rules, you can write more easily and thus be a good writer. Thats the story that the majority of high school graduates seem to have learned. Its likely that no one stood in front of you and told you this story directly; but instead, it is a story that you learned by watching how people around you modeled this behavior. For example, when teachers read your papers and ignored your ideas but corrected your grammatical mistakes, they were telling you this story: Writing is nothing but error-avoidance. When you took standardized tests (like the SAT) and were given a prompt you had never seen before and told to write about it in 30 minutes, and then a stranger read it and ignored your ideas and facts and instead rated you on correctness and organization, they were telling you this story: Writing is not about content; it is about correctness. If you think about the views of writing that you see on the news (Kids today cant write! Texting is ruining their spelling!) or what you saw teachers and test-makers model, you will start to recognize how widespread this story of writing is.

TRANSFER Sometimes called generalization or repurposing, transfer refers to the act of applying existing knowledge, learned in one kind of situation, to new situations. For example, a writer who learns how to write a summary in her College Writing I class in English is expected to transfer that summary-writing knowledge to her history of the telescope project in astronomy. Transfer, we are learning, is not automatic people learn many things that they forget and/or dont or cant use in different circumstances. Research suggests that learning in particular ways (for example, being mindful) can increase the likelihood of later transfer.

But theres more than one story about writing. Youll find the college writing instructor



who assigned this book probably believes a very different story, one based not on teachers rulebooks but rather on observation of successful writers and how writing, reading, language, and texts actually work how people actually experience them. In this other story, writing is much fuller and richer. Writing is not just what you say (content) but also how you say something (form), how you come up with your ideas (invention), how you go through the act of thinking and writing (process), and whether what youve said and how youve said it successfully meet the current situation (rhetoric). In this story, avoiding errors that get in the way of the readers understanding is only one small part of writing. Writing is about communicating in ways that work, that do something in the world. Writing is much more than grammar, and its also much more than the final text you create; writing is the whole process of creating that text. In this story, there is not one universal set of rules for writing correctly, but rather many sets of habits adopted by groups of people using particular texts to accomplish particular ends or activities. For example, the habits and conventions of engineers writing are vastly different than the habits and conventions of lawyers writing or your writing for your history class. That means there is no easily transferable set of rules from one writing situation to another. What transfers is not how to write, but what to ask about writing. This second, alternative story about writing is one you have also been exposed to, but

maybe not in school. When you text your friends, for example, you already know that what you say and how you say it matter, and that the text will be successful if your friend reads it and understands it and responds somehow. If your friend ignores it or finds it insulting or cant quite decipher the new shorthand you devised, then its not good writing. You also know that when you go to your English class or write a letter to your mother, you cant write the same way you do when you are texting your friends. You know these things even if no one has ever told them to you directly. This second story about writing the one that writing scholars believe is why we

think it would not be very helpful to write a book that tries to teach you how to write. After all, in a how to write book you would have to respond to every piece of advice by asking, How to write what, for whom, in order to be used in what way? This book doesnt give you easy, quick, or limited advice about how to write, but it instead shows you ways of thinking about how writing works, and how to make informed and effective choices for yourself in each new writing situation. As a writer you have likely been experiencing the two competing stories about, or

conceptions of, writing throughout much of your life. This might have led to confusing and frustrating experiences with writing. Teachers might have said they want to hear your personal voice and heartfelt opinion on something and then respond only to spelling and comma splices in your papers. School might have turned into a place where writing is simply an opportunity for you to be told that youve made mistakes. But at the same time, you might have a rich writing life through texting and Facebooking, writing fanfiction, writing



on gaming chatboards, writing songs or poetry. In those worlds, writing is used to communicate, to share ideas, to get things done. These competing experiences with writing are enacting different conceptions of what writing is, and those conceptions of writing lead you to do different things. If you think that writing is avoiding error, it is unlikely you will spend much time developing ideas. If you think that a reader is going to respond and react to your ideas, you are quite likely to spend a lot of time developing them and thinking about your readers possible reactions. Part of the purpose of this book is to give you the language and the ideas to figure out

what conceptions of writing you are experiencing and which ones might be most accurate, and what to do about that.




We all have conceptions about writing that come from our life experiences. A conception is a belief, an idea about something. For example, you might think that you arent a very good writer. If we asked you why, you might say because you dont do well on timed writing tests like the SAT or school assessments. Or you might think that good writing is writing that doesnt have any grammatical errors in it. Where did that idea come from? Probably from an English teacher who used a red pen to mark every error in your papers but gave no feedback on what you were actually writing about. Our conceptions of writing the stories we tell ourselves about it, what we assume

about it really matter. What you believe about writing directly impacts what you do or are willing to do. If you think you are a bad writer because you struggle with timed writing tests, you might not be willing to try other kinds of writing, or you might not recognize how good you are at coming up with smart ideas when you have a lot of time to think them over. If you think that good writing is writing with no errors, you might struggle to put words on paper (or on the screen) as you attempt to avoid errors. And in the process, you might forget what you wanted to say, or get so frustrated that you give up, or write much less than you would have otherwise. Many of the readings in this book suggest that some of our cultural beliefs about reading

and writing arent exactly right, and our lives as readers and writers would make a lot more sense if we could see these beliefs as misconceptions that is, as ideas and stories about writing that dont really hold up to interrogation and research. Readings in this book are intended to challenge your everyday ideas about writing; they suggest that writing is much more complicated (and interesting) when we actually pay close attention to how texts work and what readers and writers are doing when they engage them. These readings also suggest that, as a writer and a reader, you usually have a great deal more power, and are less controlled by universal, mysterious rules, than you might have been taught. You can construct different ideas about writing, and you can construct meaning for yourself in ways that can empower you as a writer. And you can choose to operate using different constructions (conceptions) of writing. Our ideas matter: As Buddha said, With our thoughts we make the world. Writers

construct texts by using words and images to develop ideas, and readers construct a variety of meanings for a text by bringing their personal experiences and understandings to a text. In this usage, construct is a verb. It suggests actions that writers and readers take. But construct is not only a verb (conSTRUCT); it is also a noun (CONstruct). Constructs (noun) are mental frameworks that people build in order to make sense of the world around them.




Construct, the verb (pronounced conSTRUCT), means to build or to put together (con = with, and struct = shape or frame). By turning the verb into a noun (pronounced CONstruct), we make the word mean, literally, a thing that has been constructed. In everyday use, we use the noun CONstruct only in the realm of ideas or concepts. The ideas of freedom, justice, wealth, and politics, for example, are all constructs, or ideas that we have built up over time. What is important to remember about constructs is that, while they may seem to be

natural or inevitable, theyre actually unchallenged claims that can be questioned, contested, redefined, or reinvented.

So in large part this book intends to help you become aware of and explore your ideas about writing your conceptions about writing that construct your world and to put you in touch with other peoples ideas and research about writing. Our goal is to help you have robust, healthy, research-based ideas about writing that will make you a more successful writer. Research-based ideas are important ideas that have actually been studied and tested, and they have been demonstrated to work for experienced writers. Considering constructs about writing and assessing whether your ideas about writing are

misconceptions might be difficult at times and will require you to be willing to think through ideas that might be uncomfortable.



Threshold Concepts of Writing

Some conceptions of writing matter more than others. Recently, researchers from the United Kingdom, Ray Meyer and Jan Land, identified what they call threshold concepts ideas that are so central to understanding a particular subject that a learner cant move forward in that area without grasping them. However, grasping threshold concepts is hard because they are based in the research of particular fields or areas of study, and that research is often in conflict with popular, commonsense ideas about topics that havent been tested or thought through carefully.

THRESHOLD CONCEPTS Threshold concepts are ideas that literally change the way you experience, think about, and understand a subject. Every specialized field of study (or discipline history, biology, mathematics, etc.) has threshold concepts that learners in that field must become acquainted with in order to fully understand the ideas of that field of study. Threshold concepts, once learned, help the learner see the world differently. They can be hard to learn (what researchers Jan Meyer and Ray Land call troublesome) for a variety of reasons, including the possibility that they might directly conflict with ideas you already have. Once youre aware of these new and troublesome threshold concepts and you really start to understand them, they are hard to unlearn Meyer and Land say they are irreversible. Very often, learning threshold concepts doesnt just change the way you think about the subject, but also the way you think about yourself. But what makes them most powerful is that they help you understand a whole set of other ideas that are hard to imagine without knowing the threshold concept so they let you do a whole lot of learning at once by helping entire sets of ideas fall into place. Chapter 1 discusses the main threshold concepts addressed in Writing about Writing.

For example, one of us has been doing a research project with some historians and was surprised to learn that professional historians dont think that studying history is about dates, events, or learning lessons for the future. Rather, the historians said that studying history is about learning to recognize multiple narratives and to see each narrative as an interpretation that must be understood in context. These historians were frustrated that the History Channel and common conversations about history lead people to misunderstand what history is and how to study it. When students engage in their history classes, the historians have to spend a lot of time (years, sometimes) helping students understand what narratives are, what it means to see narratives as someones interpretation of past events, and how to research the context of the narratives. Until students can do these things, they cant move forward in their study of history at the college level. As the history example illustrates, when learners are introduced to threshold concepts in

different disciplines, they often find them troublesome, and it can take a long time to really



grasp them. While learners are struggling with the ideas, they find themselves in a liminal space a space where they move back and forth, start to get a handle on the ideas, then realize they dont really have a handle on them. Learning in this liminal space can be quite uncomfortable because learners have to examine their previous ideas and experiences and try to understand something that might conflict with those ideas. But when learners finally do grasp these threshold concepts, the way they see things is

changed transformed, likely for good. Different ideas and experiences make sense and seem related in ways they hadnt before in other words, learning threshold concepts is what Meyer and Land call an integrative experience. When history students understand that history is made up of a set of competing narratives that interpret events in different ways, and that these narratives and events must be understood in context, they start to question everything they see. If they see a news story about the Confederate flag, for example, they recognize that people who take opposing views of it have competing narratives, are examining different pieces of the historical record, and interpreting that historical record in different ways. Instead of asking who is right and who is wrong, new questions emerge for example, how groups of people can interpret the past in such different ways. These are the kinds of questions that motivate historians to conduct and publish research. When history students finally grasp central threshold concepts, they see and understand the world differently, and find interesting research possibilities through their new perspective. Threshold concepts of writing are no different than other threshold concepts in their

troublesomeness. In some ways, writing threshold concepts may be even more troublesome to learn than threshold concepts in other disciplines. Because everyone writes, and writing is so common in our schools, lives, and daily experiences, by the time we get to a place where we are actually studying writing (usually in college writing classes) weve had a long time to solidify our non-research-based views about writing.




In order to really engage with threshold concepts about writing, there is one basic underlying concept that youll need to grapple with first: that writing is not just something that you do, but also something that people study. Usually in high school, students write about literature, and instruction in writing is often limited to things like grammar, style, and form. But there is a lot more to writing than that, and there are scholars who study writing for a living. Writing can be studied because it is a complex activity about which little is actually known. (In contrast, in earlier schooling, writing is often treated as a fairly basic, fundamental skill. As youll learn in the class in which youre using this book, there is nothing basic about writing.)

Get Professional Assignment Help Cheaply

Buy Custom Essay

Are you busy and do not have time to handle your assignment? Are you scared that your paper will not make the grade? Do you have responsibilities that may hinder you from turning in your assignment on time? Are you tired and can barely handle your assignment? Are your grades inconsistent?

Whichever your reason is, it is valid! You can get professional academic help from our service at affordable rates. We have a team of professional academic writers who can handle all your assignments.

Why Choose Our Academic Writing Service?

  • Plagiarism free papers
  • Timely delivery
  • Any deadline
  • Skilled, Experienced Native English Writers
  • Subject-relevant academic writer
  • Adherence to paper instructions
  • Ability to tackle bulk assignments
  • Reasonable prices
  • 24/7 Customer Support
  • Get superb grades consistently

Online Academic Help With Different Subjects


Students barely have time to read. We got you! Have your literature essay or book review written without having the hassle of reading the book. You can get your literature paper custom-written for you by our literature specialists.


Do you struggle with finance? No need to torture yourself if finance is not your cup of tea. You can order your finance paper from our academic writing service and get 100% original work from competent finance experts.

Computer science

Computer science is a tough subject. Fortunately, our computer science experts are up to the match. No need to stress and have sleepless nights. Our academic writers will tackle all your computer science assignments and deliver them on time. Let us handle all your python, java, ruby, JavaScript, php , C+ assignments!


While psychology may be an interesting subject, you may lack sufficient time to handle your assignments. Don’t despair; by using our academic writing service, you can be assured of perfect grades. Moreover, your grades will be consistent.


Engineering is quite a demanding subject. Students face a lot of pressure and barely have enough time to do what they love to do. Our academic writing service got you covered! Our engineering specialists follow the paper instructions and ensure timely delivery of the paper.


In the nursing course, you may have difficulties with literature reviews, annotated bibliographies, critical essays, and other assignments. Our nursing assignment writers will offer you professional nursing paper help at low prices.


Truth be told, sociology papers can be quite exhausting. Our academic writing service relieves you of fatigue, pressure, and stress. You can relax and have peace of mind as our academic writers handle your sociology assignment.


We take pride in having some of the best business writers in the industry. Our business writers have a lot of experience in the field. They are reliable, and you can be assured of a high-grade paper. They are able to handle business papers of any subject, length, deadline, and difficulty!


We boast of having some of the most experienced statistics experts in the industry. Our statistics experts have diverse skills, expertise, and knowledge to handle any kind of assignment. They have access to all kinds of software to get your assignment done.


Writing a law essay may prove to be an insurmountable obstacle, especially when you need to know the peculiarities of the legislative framework. Take advantage of our top-notch law specialists and get superb grades and 100% satisfaction.

What discipline/subjects do you deal in?

We have highlighted some of the most popular subjects we handle above. Those are just a tip of the iceberg. We deal in all academic disciplines since our writers are as diverse. They have been drawn from across all disciplines, and orders are assigned to those writers believed to be the best in the field. In a nutshell, there is no task we cannot handle; all you need to do is place your order with us. As long as your instructions are clear, just trust we shall deliver irrespective of the discipline.

Are your writers competent enough to handle my paper?

Our essay writers are graduates with bachelor's, masters, Ph.D., and doctorate degrees in various subjects. The minimum requirement to be an essay writer with our essay writing service is to have a college degree. All our academic writers have a minimum of two years of academic writing. We have a stringent recruitment process to ensure that we get only the most competent essay writers in the industry. We also ensure that the writers are handsomely compensated for their value. The majority of our writers are native English speakers. As such, the fluency of language and grammar is impeccable.

What if I don’t like the paper?

There is a very low likelihood that you won’t like the paper.

Reasons being:

  • When assigning your order, we match the paper’s discipline with the writer’s field/specialization. Since all our writers are graduates, we match the paper’s subject with the field the writer studied. For instance, if it’s a nursing paper, only a nursing graduate and writer will handle it. Furthermore, all our writers have academic writing experience and top-notch research skills.
  • We have a quality assurance that reviews the paper before it gets to you. As such, we ensure that you get a paper that meets the required standard and will most definitely make the grade.

In the event that you don’t like your paper:

  • The writer will revise the paper up to your pleasing. You have unlimited revisions. You simply need to highlight what specifically you don’t like about the paper, and the writer will make the amendments. The paper will be revised until you are satisfied. Revisions are free of charge
  • We will have a different writer write the paper from scratch.
  • Last resort, if the above does not work, we will refund your money.

Will the professor find out I didn’t write the paper myself?

Not at all. All papers are written from scratch. There is no way your tutor or instructor will realize that you did not write the paper yourself. In fact, we recommend using our assignment help services for consistent results.

What if the paper is plagiarized?

We check all papers for plagiarism before we submit them. We use powerful plagiarism checking software such as SafeAssign, LopesWrite, and Turnitin. We also upload the plagiarism report so that you can review it. We understand that plagiarism is academic suicide. We would not take the risk of submitting plagiarized work and jeopardize your academic journey. Furthermore, we do not sell or use prewritten papers, and each paper is written from scratch.

When will I get my paper?

You determine when you get the paper by setting the deadline when placing the order. All papers are delivered within the deadline. We are well aware that we operate in a time-sensitive industry. As such, we have laid out strategies to ensure that the client receives the paper on time and they never miss the deadline. We understand that papers that are submitted late have some points deducted. We do not want you to miss any points due to late submission. We work on beating deadlines by huge margins in order to ensure that you have ample time to review the paper before you submit it.

Will anyone find out that I used your services?

We have a privacy and confidentiality policy that guides our work. We NEVER share any customer information with third parties. Noone will ever know that you used our assignment help services. It’s only between you and us. We are bound by our policies to protect the customer’s identity and information. All your information, such as your names, phone number, email, order information, and so on, are protected. We have robust security systems that ensure that your data is protected. Hacking our systems is close to impossible, and it has never happened.

How our Assignment  Help Service Works

1.      Place an order

You fill all the paper instructions in the order form. Make sure you include all the helpful materials so that our academic writers can deliver the perfect paper. It will also help to eliminate unnecessary revisions.

2.      Pay for the order

Proceed to pay for the paper so that it can be assigned to one of our expert academic writers. The paper subject is matched with the writer’s area of specialization.

3.      Track the progress

You communicate with the writer and know about the progress of the paper. The client can ask the writer for drafts of the paper. The client can upload extra material and include additional instructions from the lecturer. Receive a paper.

4.      Download the paper

The paper is sent to your email and uploaded to your personal account. You also get a plagiarism report attached to your paper.

smile and order essaysmile and order essay PLACE THIS ORDER OR A SIMILAR ORDER WITH US TODAY AND GET A PERFECT SCORE!!!

order custom essay paper