WAC, WID, and Genre: An Annotated Bibliography

Anson, Chris M., Deanna P. Dannels, and Karen St. Clair. “Teaching and Learning a Multimodal Genre in a Psychology Course.” Genre across the Curriculum. Eds. Anne Herrington and Charles Moran. Logan: Utah State U P, 2005. 171-195.

A teacher of PSY 201—Controversial Psychological Issues—who participated in the speaking and writing across the curriculum program’s faculty seminar at North Carolina State University, developed an assignment for her class that asked students to give a multimodal presentation, consisting of an oral presentation and a handout that supplemented it. Consultants from the speaking and writing program’s assessment group served as peer reviewers for assignment when it was implemented, discovering that students interpreted the assignment differently, used the visual support document differently, and performed with varying degrees of competence partly due to different understandings of the multimodal genre assignment. Although the chapter retells the story of the development, implementation, and review of the assignment, its theoretical focus is grounded in genre theory discussions of hybrid genres and evolving genres.


Bakhtin, M.M. “The Problem of Speech Genres.” Speech Genres & Other Late Essays. Eds. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist. Austin: U of Texas P, 1996. 60-102.

 In this seminal mid-late essay of 1952-53, Bakhtin broadens the notion of “genre,” associated primarily with literary categories, to include the social sphere and “real speech communion” in all of its spoken and written instances. For Bakhtin, the main unit of such communion is the utterance, from the everyday, one-word rejoinder to the sprawling masterwork of literature or science. Relatively established types of these utterances are what he calls speech genres, both primary and secondary. This essay’s thesis and the “problem” of its title are twofold: 1) speech genres are extremely heterogeneous—in fact “boundless”—making them (along with the utterance itself) very difficult to analyze; and 2) linguists have historically and persistently confused the utterance with the sentence as the primary unit of speech communication. Though this essay suffers from some of the redundancy and weak organization his writing is occasionally known for, it has become a foundational text for genre studies and, of course, any discussion of WAC.


Beaufort, Anne, and John Williams.  “Writing History: Informed or Not by Genre Theory?”  Genre Across the Curriculum.  Eds. Anne Herrington and Charles Moran.  Logan: Utah State U P, 2005.  44-64.

Beaufort and Williams indicate history writing is a unique challenge for professors in this field to practice and students to learn.  The range of primary historical sources, their origins and who wrote them all reflect a confusing array of content, of which history contains much.  History professors want their students to write analytically, critically, and well while not just repeating material collected from secondary sources and stating the obvious. Their students’ seeming inability to understand what is wanted of them to do correctly while enrolled in their courses, due to time constraints, large class sizes, assignment guidelines, logistics in collecting, grading, and returning written work (with few corrections and minimal feedback), plus students’ perceived incomplete preparation in both historical research methods and previous composition training causes professors much anxiety.  Beaufort (in the composition field) analyzes one history major student (Tim) by having him gather what he had written over several academic terms on various historical subjects, finding uneven writing performances (expressing himself, citing and using references) as well as working with his material—Tim’s work also was read and commented upon by other history professors, this resulting in mixed conclusions about his qualifications in historical research and writing.  Williams (a historian) discusses an assignment in history writing he crafted in which he attempted to cause his students in getting away from the thinking that comes with the term “research paper” by referring it to as an “essay” (the genre “switch”) yet requiring citations and references to sources that highlight the assignment’s topic: an aspect of the recent decline and fall of apartheid in South Africa with a number of suggested sources made available and approaches encouraged.  Because of clear expectations and guidelines given at the beginning of the assignment and overall good directions for students’ research and writing with excellent interpretation and conclusions displayed Williams, on the whole, is very satisfied with the results of his students’ written work with the inevitable abject performances and missing components among some students. Beaufort (composition) and Williams (history) conclude that teaching writing and teaching history must come together as “teaching history writing is teaching history” which must address “the mental habits, philosophical assumptions, the practical activities of our fields as we instruct students in their writing” (64). 


Becher, Tony. “Academic Disciplines.” Academic Tribes and Territories: Intellectual Enquiry and the Cultures of Disciplines. Berkshire, UK: Open U P: 1989.  19-35.

This chapter of Becher’s book does three major things.  First, it discusses what an academic discipline is, suggesting that disciplines, while subject to variation and change across time and space, generally seem to share both a knowledge base and a social organization.  Second, he discusses the “tribal” like features of academic disciplines: shared and specialized language, exclusionary practices and distrust of other tribes, and complex initiation rites.  Finally, Betcher shares his own research (and reviews the research of others) into a variety of academic tribal cultures, describing what academics say about each other’s disciplines, and their own discipline. He claims both the descriptions of colleagues and the self-appraisals of his respondents are “caricatures” and “stereotypes” (28).  In this chapter, he describes, but does not analyze these data collected through interviews.


-----.“Chapter 5: Patterns of Communication.”  Academic Tribes and Territories: Intellectual Enquiry and the Cultures of Disciplines.  Open U P, 1989.  77-104. 


Academic institutions value the dissemination of knowledge and also reward those who establish a reputation for themselves and their institutions by doing so.  Becher identifies two main categories of knowledge communities.  In the urban model, a large number of people are engaged in a narrow field of study and usually require much funding; in the rural model, a small number of people are engaged in a broad field of study, often in the humanities and social sciences, and usually require less funding.  The communication genres and styles of these two groups display different characteristics with regard to informal communication channels; formal modes of interchange; speed, frequency, and length of publication; and questions of style and accessibility.  People working in urban areas tend to be more competitive, secretive, and aggressive in being the first to report findings than are those working in rural areas.  Research that requires substantial funding and the participation of many team members is more likely to result in multiple authorship than research that can be accomplished with less funding and that favors the “lonely scholar” image, especially if the work is theoretical.  Although controversies exist in all disciplines, the tendency in recent times has been to avoid overt arguments in print; however, more subtle ways of controlling what is said (e.g. one faction achieves control of a journal) are prevalent. 


Berkenkotter, Carol and Thomas N. Huckin.  “Rethinking Genre Knowledge From Sociocognitive Perspective.”  Genre Knowledge in Disciplinary Communication: Cognition/Culture/ Power.  Hillsdale: Erlbaum Associates, 1995.

After conducting an eleven year study of the writing practices of individual writers in disciplinary communities, Berkenkotter and Huckin have concluded that successful scholars possess “genre knowledge”(3). Academic genres are characterized by the following five principles: dynamism; situatedness; an interpenetration of form and content; duality of structure; and community ownership (4).  Knowledge production within academia is dependent on the ability of researchers and scholars to communicate effectively with their peers within “generic languages” (2).  Thus, when new knowledge emerges within an academic discipline, the authors argue that the rhetorical forms that encapsulate the new knowledge also change.


Cooper, Marilyn M. “’The Ecology of Writing.” College English 48.4 (April 1986): 364-375.

Although the process model of composition studies, influenced by literary theory, psychology, and linguistics, has brought about beneficial changes in the teaching of writing, it is limited because it sees writing as being primarily a cognitive process, failing to recognize the social aspects of writing. What is needed is an ecological model of writing, which sees writing as an “activity through which a person is continually engaged with a variety of social constituted systems” (367). Writing interactions are based on intimacy (a measure of closeness with the reader) and power (a measure of how much the writer can control the actions of others), and these relationships, along with the writer’s purpose, understanding of audience, and perception of the rhetorical situation, are signaled through the writer’s use of conventions and textual forms which rise out of the interaction between the writer and the writer’s participation in various groups that structure her society.


Devitt, Amy J. “An Analysis of Genres in Social Settings.” Writing Genres. Carbondale: Southern Illinois U P, 2004. 33-65.

In this chapter, Devitt argues that the understanding of discourse communities is too limited and limiting, proposing readers consider communities (groups closely and frequently engaged together in various activities), collectives (groups working together toward more limited, short-ranged goals), and networks (groups loosely joined or “once-removed” that have little action in common). Devitt lists six central ideas about genre in social settings: 1) genre operates within groups that are fluid and of varying degrees of connection, 2) genre can’t be isolated from the people who use genre, as if it were a “material tool” or “agent,” 3) the functions genre serve within groups are responses toideologies as well as to given situations, 4) analyzing genre by examining formal features falls short because the users of a genre, within a group, are best able to complete such analysis, 5) groups use different genre sets that include genre systems (all the genres that work together toward a unified action), genre repertoires (all the genres used by a group covering all its functions, not just the ones related to a unified action), genres that actually create the group (network) they define (email jokes, for example), 6)  to varying degrees “a genre reflects, constructs, and reinforces the values, epistemology, and power relationships of the group from which it developed and for which it functions . . . .”


---.  “A Theory of Genre.” Writing Genres. Carbondale: Southern Illinois U P, 2004. 1-32.

In this introductory chapter of her book, Devitt describes genre studies and previews the topics she covers in chapters that follow. She begins to define genre by emphasizing her disagreement with previous, over-simplified definitions: genre is not merely classification; genre is not merely form; genre is not just about product but about process.  Devitt theorizes that a clear definition of genre must see it as unifying the rhetorical situation, the culture of a given group, and the existence of, knowledge of, and influence of other genres.


Edwards, Mike, and Heidi McKee.  “The Teaching and Learning of Web Genres in First-Year Composition.”  Genre across the Curriculum.  Eds. Anne Herrington and Charles Moran.  Logan: Utah State UP, 2005.  196-218.

 In a 2002-2003 study of student Web-based writing assignments conducted at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Edwards and McKee discovered that first-year students tend to draw upon their own personal experiences with the Web.  This student-generated ‘insider knowledge’ reflects a variety of personal, technological and commercial influences.  In student Web sites, visual imagery often assumes dominance over the text.  Given the “eclectic and changing nature” of web genres, the authors recommend that composition instructors should encourage their students to become more aware of the complex social and cultural factors that influence the composition of Web texts.


Freed, Richard C., and Glenn J. Broadhead.  “Discourse Communities, Sacred Texts, and Institutional Norms.”  College Composition and Communication 38.2 (1987): 154-165.

In this article, Freed and Broadhead reflect the modern-day terminology of composition, focusing their discussion on discourse communities.  They begin by posing questions about how students in freshman English can learn about discourse communities, and also about the problems inherent in following “sacred texts” slavishly.  They discuss two companies, which they call “Alpha” and “Omega,” engaged in business ventures that are similar, and their own internal discourse communities.  In both of these companies, employees learn quickly to rely on training manuals and existing documents, which become “sacred” to them because they are important models of behavior within the existing community.  The authors end by returning to freshman English class, and suggest that students should learn valuable lessons here about outside discourse communities by being exposed to ethnography.  Only then can they think about preparing themselves for adapting to different communities.  The norms we show are students fall into 1 of 4 categories: cultural, institutional, generic, and situational.


Geisler, Cheryl.  “Literacy and Expertise in the Academy.”  Language and Learning Across the

            Disciplines 1.1 (Jan. 1994):  35-56.                                         

Geisler traces the increasing professionalization and credentializing of American higher education on behalf of the rising middle classes at the expense of traditional elites in the late 19th century who dominated American colleges and universities earlier in that century.  From elementary school through college/university (on into graduate school) the task of schooling both students who were to become “experts” in ever increasing numbers of specialized fields and those who were to remain laypersons—rather than separately as was done in most other countries—became a primary task of American education.  This gives rise to the recognition of and crossing of the “Great Divide” that students wishing to become expert in a particular field to become separated from layperson peers must undergo.  Several line figures appear in Geisler’s article demonstrating the progression that experts and laypersons undergo in relation to a field of expertise: beginning from “naïve problem space” and “naïve problem space of autonomous texts” greater mastery and sophistication is attained through “expert problem space of domain content” and “expert problem space of rhetorical process.”  Basically, students go from “naïve” understanding and learning through texts that are, in themselves, seen as the knowledge desired.  Through years of education, students eventually understand that the information of a field must be gained through greater sophistication of gaining that knowledge (domain content) by reading ever more complex texts (rhetorical process), understood by an ever narrowing circle of experts.  This is the basis of the Great Divide between laypersons and experts.  Although allowing greater access to American colleges and universities to many more social groups, the “professional movement”, while supplying the needed experts in specialized fields, had a negative effect (reducing the American academy as a “credentialling wing” for the professions) (51). This has contributed to much inequity within American education.  In this, the Great Divide exists not only between experts and laypersons but among many more groups desiring greater levels of education.                                        


Geller, Anne Ellen. “’What’s Cool Here?’ Collaboratively Learning Genre in Biology.” Genre across the Curriculum. Anne Herrington and Charles Moran, eds. Logan, Utah: Utah State U P, 2005. 83-105.

The author, a director of writing, recounts her experience of working with a professor of biology who assigned “mini reviews”. Although the professor gave students detailed written descriptions of the assignments at the beginning of the course, students tended to interpret the assignments by comparing them with their own previous encounters of similar genres. The professor, the author, and students met in writing workshops to discuss the students’ first attempts at writing mini reviews. Through that process, they finally make explicit the professor’s tacit knowledge that a successful review is selective and focused around a thesis based on the question “What’s cool here?”


Halloran, S. Michael.  “Eloquence in a Technological Society.”  The Central States Speech Journal 29.4 (1978): 221-227.

In this essay, Halloran makes a case for WAC in the science-engineering curriculum.  He begins with a review of classical Greek rhetoric; Quintilian and others, he argues, understood the need for rhetoric and eloquence in all pursuits, especially science.  He notes with regret that the modern science-engineering curriculum has separated rhetorical skill from scientific content, when instead it should be viewing rhetoric as “simply the refinement of a native human capacity.”  An assistant professor in the Department of Language, Literature, and Communication at Rensselaer, he is careful to note that his own experience with the engineering curriculum is limited.  He says that in particular, two features mark the engineering department’s approach to rhetoric: one, the process of writing and speaking is relegated to a “specialty” class, and two, that rhetoric is reduced to the realm of a specialized skill, even a “technology” that students can acquire.  Halloran then lays out his own vision of a revised science-curriculum that incorporates rhetoric into every step of the learning process; writing would no longer be taught as a separate skill in a separate class, but would be demanded in each course, along with speaking, so that students could develop rhetoric along with their learning of content. 


Herrington, Anne and Charles Moran. “The Idea of Genre in Theory and Practice: An Overview of the Work in Genre in the Fields of Composition and Rhetoric and New Genre Studies.” Genre across the Curriculum. Eds. Anne Herrington and Charles Moran. Logan: Utah State UP, 2005. 1-20.

Functioning as both an introduction to the text and an introduction to the study of genre in composition and rhetoric, Ch.1 offers something of a historico-theoretical overview. The basic distinctions between genre as ideal form and genre as socially negotiated convention emerge from this history, as do the primary impacts the modes have had on genre-based approaches to teaching. The WAC connection is made when the authors suggest that the writing to learn strand of WAC tends to avoid teaching using genres as some advocates characterize genres as too prescriptive and not exploratory enough, while the WID model of WAC aligns itself more fully with genres as the experience of writing in one’s discipline or profession. The authors see possibilities for using genres, even to learn, but suggest that we should not teach genres as static, as textbooks seem always to suggest they are, but rather that we should teach them as alive and enmeshed in power struggles.


-----. “What We’ve Learned: Implications for Classroom Practice.” Genre across the Curriculum.  Eds. Anne Herrington and Charles Moran Logan: Utah State U P: 2005.  245-53.

This chapter summarizes the important information Herrington and Moran learned as a result of editing this book: soliciting, reading, and editing submissions and interacting with authors concerning their work.  They specifically claim to have learned four things. First, that the genres teachers choose to teach are connected to their teaching goals, their disciplines, their institutional situations, and “their own sense of what their students need” (246).  Second, that the teachers in their text understand that genre is not equal to form (248).  Third, that teaching genre is a negotiation between the teacher’s notion of genre and the student’s (248-49). Fourth, that good teaching requires conversation among teachers about teaching practices (252).


Kapp, Rochelle, and Bongi Bangeni.  “I Was Just Never Exposed to this Argument Thing: Using a Genre Approach to Teach Academic Writing to ESL Students in the Humanities.” Genre Across the Curriculum.  Ed. Anne Harrington and Charles Moran.  Logan: Utah State U P, 2005.  109-27.

Kapp and Bangeni describe the humanities education of twenty first-year students at the University of Cape Town. The students were entering an alien culture and the program sought to help them become comfortable with the discourse practices by offering considerable support at first and then removing that support as the course went along. The descriptions of how students were changed by their education lets readers see students’ mixed feelings about leaving one world to join another.


Killingsworth, M. Jimmie.  “Discourse Communities: Local and Global.”  Rhetoric Review 11.1 (1992): 110-122.

Killingsworth analyzes “communities” which run the span from large groups of people connected through common interests or professions (quite formal) down to very small ones, together by physical proximity and random gathering (quite informal).  Communities and their discourses are defined by formal organizations, geographical placement, and mutual professional-political interests plus other elements that have “local” and “global” significance.  Differences concerning communities are not defined exclusively by divisions among separate groups; differences can be found within communities, as well—either metonymic (contiguous) or synedochal (part of a larger whole).   Each “gathering” of people (small, large, formal, informal, global, local) has a discourse, a way of members expressing themselves to each other and to those outside.  Adaptation to the discourse is necessary for those who wish to “belong” to the group or formal organization, which can bring conflict to those attempting to belong, meaning a readjustment to thinking and expression, even conflict within oneself or with others.  Kenneth Burke, Michel Foucault, and Mikhail Bahktin are referred to in the analysis of this adjustment that is necessary for those attempting to belong or finding themselves part of a group while holding on to their individual and unique discourses and being a part of yet other groups.  Resistance, acceptance, and adjustment are involved in becoming a member of a community or group and being able to express oneself in its own distinctive discourse is assumed by those already belonging.  Large international corporations, political movements, academic disciplines/departments, plus those together in physical space experience this constantly.  Political, social, academic, commercial groups all demand this of those trying to gain entrance while conflicts arise personally and socially in the attempts by those seeking entrance to do so.  The novel Shane is mentioned as an example of a group that dominates, then is challenged in domination—large landowners (cattle growers) taking over open range wanting to keep it that way for grazing; small landowners (farmers/homesteaders) attempting to divide the same land for other purposes, plowing, growing, and harvesting crops behind fences.  Both groups have discourses and interests at odds with each other, yet both live in the same area. Both are made up of fiercely independent types who come together but don’t wish anyone to tell them what to do—either as members of a group or as individuals. Yet they are all following forces both large (global—others who want to buy their products) and small (local—using the same land in 2 different ways).  Killingsworth sums up the dynamic in this way: “. . . instead of restricting the meaning of discourse communities to local sites defined according to the communitarian ethos, and instead of blaming conflict within discourse communities on a simple desire to make one place into another . . . most people stand between two kinds of discourse communities: local discourse communities, groups of readers and writers who habitually work together in companies, colleges, departments, neighborhoods, government agencies, or other groups defined by specific demographic features; and global discourse communities, groups of writers and readers defined exclusively by a commitment to particular kinds of discourse practices and preferences, regardless of where and with whom they work” (121).       


Kinneavy, James L.  “Writing Across the Curriculum.”  Landmark Essays on Writing Across the Curriculum.  Eds. Charles Bazerman and David Russell.  Hermagoras P, 1994.  65-78.  Originally published in ADE Bulletin 76 (1983): 14-21. 


Kinneavy cites evidence of a decline in the reading and writing skills of students and proposes writing-across-the-curriculum classes as a possible solution.  WAC can be horizontal or it can be vertical.  One model is the individual or single-subject approach where each department assumes responsibility for the writing instruction of its students; while this approach facilitates more focus on discipline-specific content, the disadvantage is that students write only for others in their disciplines and not to the public at large, which furthers the isolation of the disciplines.  The other approach is the centralized generic approach where the responsibility for writing instruction is assumed by English or rhetoric departments although students write about the concerns of their individual disciplines.  Although this approach offers fewer opportunities for students to engage in the advanced content of their disciplines, the focus on rhetorical principles that are valid in multiple contexts will help to bring all disciplines into an integrated intellectual community.  Kinneavy claims that the best approach would be to combine the two.  In addition, English teachers who will teach WAC courses must learn something of the assumptions, methods, and genres of the discipline whose students they will teach.  He concludes with the argument that English departments should embrace all language artifacts, not just literary ones. 


Kynard, Carmen. “’Getting on the Right Side of It’: Problematizing and Rethinking the Research Paper Genre in the College Composition Course.” Genre across the Curriculum. Eds. Anne Herrington and Charles Moran. Logan: Utah State U P, 2005. 128-51.

Through a description of an evolving research project in a college composition II course, Kynard highlights the possibility for research papers to be much more meaningful to students than the often deadening form would suggest. Kynard pairs the research project with journals, readings, and discussions meant to prompt students to think about personal connections to the topics of the class. She tries to create a safe space for students to critically and personally encounter research and to fight the seeming crystallization of what should be a dynamic form. Individual student cases demonstrate a combination of personal, critical, and academic strands to form complex texts.


Martin, Nancy, et al. “The Development of Writing Abilities.” Landmark Essays on Writing across the Curriculum.  Eds.  Charles Bazerman and David R. Russell.  Davis, CA: Hermagoras P: 1994.  33-49.  (Originally published writing and Learning Across the Curriculum, 1976.)

This article examines 2000 “pieces” of school writing collected from 65 British schools educating 11-18 year-olds in an attempt to extend Britton et al’s 1975 article on how writing was used in the public schools.  The researchers categorize these samples in terms of the audience that seems to be invoked, and the purpose for writing.  They discover that most writing, at all levels, is transactional and is directed toward a teacher as evaluator. The researchers employ the students’ own words to support their assertions about the importance of providing students with clearly defined rhetorical situations in order to produce writing tasks that engage students and produce an authentic learning opportunity.


Miller, Carolyn R. “Genre as Social Action.” Quarterly Journal of Speech 70 (1984): 151-67. 

Miller’s “Genre as Social Action,” now a foundational piece in composition-rhetoric, defines genre as “typified rhetorical actions based in recurrent situations” (159). The key to this definition seems to be that genre is most fully defined by what it does in a rhetorical situation. She places this definition in opposition to definitions that emphasize form and/or suggest that genre emerges out of rhetorical situations with “factual” external reality. She suggests that this definition can help critics to evaluate texts and help students to understand the roles their discourse can play.


Palmquist, Mike. “Writing in Emerging Genres.”  Genre across the Curriculum. Eds.

Anne Herrington and Charles Moran. Logan: Utah State U P, 2005. 219-244.

This chapter of the Herrington-Moran collection locates the Web historically in terms of shifts in information and idea-exchange, then explores the problems of genre-definition in a medium so very much in flux. Author Palmquist identifies those Web elements which are particularly destabilizing, as well as one—page design—through which tentative genres seem to be emerging. He reports on a small study conducted with three classes, concluding that students were able to more or less produce “effective Web pages,” but could not, for the most part, distinguish between different general types of Web sites. While it is clear that Web writing instruction poses special problems for both teachers and students, “if instructors emphasize the emergent nature of genres on the Web, student writers are more likely to appreciate the range of choices they can make as they compose Web documents” (244). Identification of clear Web genres, for now, remains problematic.

Petroff, Elizabeth A.  “Reading and Writing, Teaching and Learning Spiritual           Autobiography.”  Genre Across the Curriculum.  Eds. Anne Herrington and    Charles Moran.  Logan, UT: Utah State UP, 2005. 21-43.

Petroff argues that reading spiritual autobiographies is a good way for students to learn to understand the perspectives of people who lived in other time periods and other cultures, and she further claims that the best way for students to understand the genre of spiritual autobiographies is write their own.  She describes a class in which she does both.  She identifies the patterns that are inherent in the genre of autobiographies, patterns that students both identify in selections they read and use as models when they write their own autobiography.  

Russell, David R. “Introduction: The Myth of Transience.” Writing in the Academic Disciplines: A Curricular History. Carbondale: Southern Illinois U P, 2002. 3-34.

Russell’s introduction, while appearing under Part I in his table of contents, is actually an overview of his entire book.  He distinguishes his study from those that have come before, elaborates “the myth of transience,’ and summarizes his books’ key conflict-themes. After some discussion of what particular chapters will cover, Russell ends by articulating his scope and methods. This introduction serves as a very helpful summary and overview of Writing in the Academic Disciplines: A Curricular History.


-----. “Nineteenth Century Backgrounds: From the Liberal Curriculum to Mass Education.”  Writing in the Academic Disciplines: A Curricular History. 2nd ed. Carbondale: Southern Illinois U P, 2002. 35-69.

In this chapter, Russell illuminates the challenges and change of the late nineteenth century in American higher education.  In particular, this section focuses on the demise of the old school, or “liberal curriculum” of the antebellum era, which was replaced by the new modern university.  Russell describes old school higher education as committed, first of all, to the oral tradition: students were nearly always male, white, and upper class, and their professors were most commonly clergymen.  Students were taught from a 4-year standard curriculum in subjects including mathematics, Latin, Greek, and rhetoric; they recited their lessons and demonstrated a command of subjects through “rhetoricals,” public speeches for the university community.  With the Civil War and urbanization, calls for democratization of higher education were heard, leading to the 1862 Land Grant College Act and increasing specialization.  In the modern university, print became the dominant medium of learning and classes turned to the lecture method.  Harvard created the prototype of today’s freshman composition class with its English A; the university had first conceived of English instruction each year in the curriculum, but dropped senior-level composition because English teachers could not understand their students’ technical writing.  Thus, in the modern university, writing instruction has become marginalized and set apart from the specialized fields.


-----. “Writing and the Great Books.”  Writing in the Disciplines: A Curricular History.  2nd ed.  Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 2002.  166-198. 

In the first half of the twentieth century, a number of prominent educators, men like William T. Foster, Thomas R. Lounsbury, Barrett Wendell, and others, believed that student writing could be improved by having students read the great literary works of the past (169-170).  At the University of Chicago, Columbia University, and St. John's University, a “great-books approach” was initiated.  However, this “trickle-down” approach to writing instruction produced limited results.  By mid-century, both Columbia University and the University of Chicago had abandoned their experiments with the great tradition.  The belles lettres tradition had little to offer educational institutions that found themselves having to respond to new social and cultural impulses.

-----.   “Writing and Progressive Education.”  Writing in the Academic Disciplines: A

            Curricular History. 2nd ed.  Carbondale: Southern Illinois U P, 2002.  199-


In this chapter, Russell describes the goals of progressive education (an informed

citizenry, capable of nurturing humane traits and values) and how the movement failed to

 achieve those goals. The progressives were often caricatured as either wild Bohemians or

parlor pinks” who failed to attend to basic education. Russell also describes the writing

programs in progressive education at places such as Lincoln High School at Teachers’

College (Columbia), Columbia University, Sarah Lawrence, and Bennington.

-----. “The Writing-Across-the-Curriculum Movement: 1970-1990.”  Writing in the Disciplines: A Curricular History, 2nd ed.  Carbondale: Southern Illinois U P, 2002.

In the 1960s, higher education experienced increased enrollments, and many of these new students were not well-prepared for college work. While some institutions responded to these increased enrollments by cutting back on composition courses, others developed WAC programs to help students become assimilated into the university community.  Several factors influenced the development of WAC programs: the work of Elbow, Macrorie, Graves, and Moffett resulted in a neo-romantic expressivist focus; the work of Britton, Piaget, Vygotski, Emig, Fulwiler, and others influenced its interest in the cognitive and linguistic development of writers; and, as the emphasis on research expanded, CCCC became a major venue for the dissemination of scholarly work.  Many successful WAC programs such as the one at Beaver College directed by Maimon came into existence in the 1970s; however, resistance to WAC programs has come from many English Departments that view writing as “an unteachable gift”; from other faculty who feel that WAC detracts from teaching content; from concerns that disciplinary writing is controlled by the disciplinary elite; and from a general lack of support within the academic community (work load, money, promotion, tenure).  Recent research by scholars such as Bazerman has focused on the rhetoric of writing in various disciplines and the pedagogical implications of that knowledge, but much work needs to be done if WAC is to be fully integrated into the university community.

-----.  “The Writing-Across-the-Curriculum Movement 1990-2002.”  Writing Across the Disciplines: A Curricular History.  Carbondale: Southern Illinois U P, 2002.  308-332.

In the concluding chapter of his book, David Russell traces the growth and maturity of the Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) movement, from 1990-2002.  WAC developed very quickly among secondary schools and 2-year colleges, where borders among academic fields are more fluid.  The 1990s saw sharply increasing numbers of 4-year colleges and universities (public and private) incorporating various elements of WAC (in whole or in part), into their composition programs.  Demonstrating the greater influence of WAC in academe among faculty and students are and more training programs, professional associations, conferences (regional and national), awards, the development of electronic technology, websites, and journals all presenting WAC research, news, employment, and publication opportunities.  A number of organizations and schools utilizing WAC are presented throughout the chapter.  WAC is now recognized as fully mainstream on the American collegiate scene.  


-----. “Writing and the Ideal of Research: Some Tacit Traditions.” Writing in the Academic Disciplines: A Curricular History.  2nd ed. Carbondale: Southern Illinois U P, 2002.  70-100.

The import of the model of the German research university with its increasingly specialized disciplines had a profound impact on the ways in which academic genres developed in the American university.  In order to historically situate writing in the disciplines, Russell describes the process by which the research model’s specialization eclipsed the generalist, rhetorically based, liberal arts education of the old university.  He specifically traces the development of three genres that produced in the new research university: the lecture notebook, the research paper, and the lab report.  He notes that although each of these genres was eventually segregated from disciplinary knowledges (for undergraduates at least) as research became part of the work of composition teachers, “the first impulse for assigning and teaching writing in the disciplines arose from a desire to engage students in the discovery of knowledge, to involve them in the intellectual life of the disciplines” (100).


-----. “Writing and the Ideal of Utility: Composition for the Culture of Professionalism.” Writing in the Academic Disciplines: A Curricular History. 2nd ed. Carbondale: Southern Illinois U P, 2002. 101-132.

With the emergence of specialized professions like engineering and business, it was assumed that writing instruction should prepare students for their careers beyond the academy. In engineering schools and in business schools, experiments in cooperative teaching (in which English teachers and teachers in the content areas tried to work together to teach writing) emerged and failed, being replaced by specialized courses in technical writing or business writing. The need for specialized writing courses helped destroy the undifferentiated approach to writing instruction, but because there were no forums for discussing writing in specialized contexts, the practice of writing remained transparent, and writing in the disciplines was relegated to adjunct and marginal status.


-----. “Writing and Social Efficiency: The Cooperation Movement.” Writing in the Academic Disciplines: A Curricular History. 2nd ed. Carbondale: Southern Illinois U P, 2002. 135-165.

 Russell claims there were three separate approaches to general education, which were responses to the social fragmentation that came with industrialization, urbanization, and specialization. Of these three approaches, Ch.5 deals with social efficiency and the cooperation movement, led by what Russell refers to as the “administrative progressives.” Aligned with business, science, and efficiency efforts, the administrative progressives believed that social unity paradoxically could be fostered through specialization and division. The general education that emerged from this movement therefore became one more semi-autonomous division in education. Though the cooperation movement in its various forms attempted to get more of the institution involved in working together to teach writing, writing remained largely outside the disciplines, was viewed as rudimentary and even remediable. Cooperation ultimately failed because the institution remained a place for division and specialization.


Soliday, Mary.  “Mapping Classroom Genres in a Science in Society Course.”  Genre across the Curriculum.  Eds. Anne Herrington and Charles Moran. Logan: Utah State UP, 2005.  65-82.

Soliday discusses here the results of a WAC case study conducted by PhD students at the City College of New York in 2002.  Professor David Eastzer offered a science class for honors students called Plagues: Past, Present, Future? and attempted to teach genre awareness in science writing.  The researchers looked at the experience of a few students who were identified by their instructor as highly successful in the class.  They used a combination of Bakhtinian theory, close reading of course documents, and exit interviews of students to study Eastzer’s approach to teaching genres in science writing.  They found first that the professor’s careful sequencing of assignments was crucial in building the students’ comfort level with different genres: he began with having students annotate required readings, answering formulated questions of these readings, and working up to personal reactions about the texts.  Students gradually worked up to a longer paper on the class case study, a study of the West Nile virus in New York.  The researchers noted that 2 students in particular seemed to have developed a level of comfort with genre expectations, understanding that the professor expected them to construct arguments based on data.  For other students, this expectation was not quite as clear.  Soliday echoes Bakhtin’s idea that genres in disciplines must be learned both explicitly (as in the use of models) and implicitly (through classroom discussions, reading) if students are to internalize them.


Swales, John M.  “The Concept of Discourse Community.”  Genre Analysis.  New York:  Cambridge U P, 1990.

According to Swales, a discourse community is characterized by the following: its members pursue common goals; the group uses intercommunication mechanisms; the group employs one or more genres; its members use specialized language; and its members demonstrate linguistic expertise (24-27).  The author contends that, unlike members of a speech community, who inherit their membership by birth or adoption, members of a discourse community gain admission to the group through training or persuasion (24).  Thus, according to the author’s definition, a discourse community can be thought of as a “specific interest group” (24).


Swales, John and Hazem Najjar. “The Writing of Research Article Introductions.” Written Communication 4.2 (April 1987): 175-191.

Adding to considerable research literature on the structure of scientific article introductions, the authors report the results of their textual analysis of 66 articles from Physical Review (samples from 1943, 1963, and 1983) and 44 articles from the Journal of Educational Psychology (samples from 1963 and 1983). Offering a model of for analysis consisting of four moves (establishing the significance of the author’s research area, summarizing previous research, pointing to a gap by claiming that a new explanation is needed, situating the author’s present research in the gap), they claim that there has not been enough research to establish whether or not a fifth move—announcing principle findings—is a common practice. They report that they discovered five classes of introductions and, in their discussion section, suggest that their findings point to two important issues: the apparent mismatch between advice in manuals and actual practice, and the disparity between the articles in the separate journals.


Young, Art. “Guest Editor’s Introduction: A Venture into the Counter-Intuitive.” Language and Learning Across the Disciplines 6 (2003):<http://wac.colostate.edu/llad/v6n2/guest.pdf>. 

 This is Art Young’s introduction to a special issue of LLAD devoted to Poetry Across the Curriculum (PAC). He points out that scant attention has been devoted, in the larger Writing Across the Curriculum movement, to PAC, and recognizes why this might be so, given the resistance in more technical fields to expressive or personal writing. Poetry’s “outsider status,” however, has perhaps been ameliorated by the events of 9/11. Young outlines some important poetry-centered national activities of late, and then makes an argument for the counter-intuitive notion of “poetry as a tool for learning” throughout the university. He lastly summarizes the contents of this special issue, from “Poetry Across the Curriculum: Four Disciplinary Perspectives” to “Unsettling Knowledge: A Poetry/Science Trialogue.” Young’s introduction and the special issue itself are welcome and important additions to the field.


Young, Art et al. “Poetry Across the Curriculum: Four Disciplinary Perspectives.” Language and Learning Across the Disciplines 6 (2003):<http://wac.colostate.edu/llad/v6n2/young.pdf>. 

 As part of a “Focus on Creativity” component to their Communication Across the Curriculum program begun in 1989, Clemson University gathered faculty from all of their colleges to participate in a pilot “Poetry Across the Curriculum” initiative.  With theoretical backing from the work of James Britton as well as considerable practical support of all kinds across their institution, these faculty “agreed to ask students to write poetry in response to course readings and other content-related prompts.” Their purpose was to encourage creative thought, provide fresh perspectives on course material, and explore “feelings and values in conjunction with academic learning experiences” (15). Faculty found that the initiative gave a voice to shy students, encouraged “humor, playfulness, irreverence, and the expression of shared emotions,” fostered new thinking patterns, assisted faculty student communication, promoted interaction, and in general helped to achieve course goals.  This article includes reports by Patricia Connor-Greene  (Abnormal Psychology), Jerry Waldvogel (Biology), Art Young (Literature), and Catherine Paul (Humanities—“Museums in Twentieth-Century Culture”). All found that poetry across the disciplines is a consistently effective pedagogical aide, worthy of continued use and serious further development.