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WAW Standing Group Meeting – Fri., 3/17

Please join us for the Writing about Writing Standing Group meeting at Cs!

WHEN: Friday @ 6:30-7:30

ROOM: C126
WHO: All are welcome, from newbies to experts

WHAT: Come exchange ideas about teaching, research, leading WAW programs, and other topics. And if you’ve attended any WAW-related panels at Cs so far, there will be time to share what you’ve learned. Afterwards, we’ll head to dinner at a nearby restaurant.

*More detailed agenda*

1. Updates on attendees’ WAW-related research and publishing projects

2. Small-group breakouts on topics the room will identify (e.g., teaching WAW to multilingual writers, WAW in STEM, What is WAW?, developing WAW-related research projects)

3. Elections of at-large members for Steering Committee
4. Discussion of ideas for developing our website

5. Attendees report on insights from WAW-related sessions at Cs

Hope to see you there!

-Andrea Olinger and Doug Downs, Co-Coordinators

What is Writing about Writing?

This post comes from a September 2014 conversation on the WPA list about WAW pedagogies. With her permission, we have excerpted Elizabeth Wardle’s response here. Addressing the question, “What is Writing about Writing?”, she writes:


I’ll start by saying what I *don’t* mean.

I don’t mean the textbook I wrote with Doug.
I don’t mean a particular curriculum.
I don’t mean a particular method, or set of activities, or set of readings.
I don’t mean first-year writing that uses either our textbook or a particular curriculum.

What I *do* mean is a basic philosophical approach to teaching writing that assumes that declarative and procedural knowledge about writing cannot be separated in a useful way in a writing class. I do mean a basic belief that we as a field have studied writing and thus have declarative knowledge that can help writers of all kinds if we share that knowledge explicitly, and encourage students to explore their own questions and concerns about writing as active, empowered rhetors.


At base, all of us who are making an argument that “there is declarative knowledge about writing that should inform writing classes” are  really just saying that we are a discipline and we know useful things that can help our students (and colleagues and policy makers). HOW you use that declarative knowledge, what you do with it in your particular context, varies so, so widely–as it should.

The methods and curricula and textbooks are not the philosophy. They are all simply ways to try to enact the philosophy, and we’ll be forever trying to figure out more effective and creative ways.

Either we are a discipline or we aren’t. And if we are, let’s act like it.


Elizabeth Wardle
Professor & Department Chair
Department of Writing & Rhetoric
University of Central Florida


(excerpted from her 9.4.14 post to the thread “WAW: What’s different and the pleasures of the text (was thematic and multi)”

Downs, “Teaching first-year writers to use texts: Scholarly readings in Writing-about-Writing in First-Year Comp”

Downs’ article provides great suggestions for helping students navigate scholarly articles.

Downs, Doug. “Teaching First-year Writers to Use Texts: Scholarly Readings in Writing-about-writing in First-year Comp.” Reader: Essays in Reader-Oriented Theory, Criticism, and Pedagogy (2010): 19-50.

New to WAW? Start here.

Welcome! If you are new to Writing about Writing, we recommend doing the following:

  • Read about some sample courses. For instance, Barbara Bird describes her WAW-themed basic writing course at Taylor University in this article.
  • Take a look at the kinds of writing projects students in WAW courses might develop by browsing Stylus, UCF’s Journal of First-Year Composition.
  • For some basic scholarship on WAW and its effectiveness, see Doug Downs’s (2010) annotated bibliography.

If you like what you see, make sure you subscribe to the WAW Network email list as well as to site updates (so you can be notified when there is a new post)!

Image credit: “It’s time to get started” by The fixerupperz (Own work), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Interview with a Writer (Betsy Sargent)

This assignment, developed by Betsy Sargent for WRS 101: Exploring Writing (U of Alberta), tasks students with the following:

You are going to interview an individual in that field or line of work about the writing they do every day and how they go about doing it. Interviews with individuals who have more work and writing experience than you do—or experience of a different kind—can generate rich material to help you, your colleagues, and your instructor get a better sense of the wide variety of writing that gets done in the world.

Image credit: “Job Interview” by nuggety247 on Pixabay, CC0 license.


Below, from newest to oldest, are some textbooks that instructors might be interested in. Please write with other suggestions!


Texts by a Single Author(s)