We share effective writing pedagogies, explore what’s worked, refine what’s in-process, and theorize new turns (often from within bigger, more complexly challenging turns). Our focus is on teaching, and our goal is to support teachers, students, and scholars. We hope to be especially valuable as curators, identifying and radiating our sense of how pedagogies are evolving in light of various thrilling and provocative language trends, phenomena, and events.

Candidate for Election to RCWS Pedagogies Forum

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    Hilary Sarat-St. Peter

    As I have been nominated to run for the election for the RCWS pedagogies forum executive committee, I would like to introduce myself via this forum.

    I’m an associate professor of professional/technical writing in the department of English and Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago, the largest nonprofit arts college in the US.  Much of my own scholarly work focuses on the role that instructions and other forms of technical communication play in circulating knowledge about making and detonating improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Links to my recent publications can be found here. Presently, my scholarly trajectory is unfolding into a revision of user-centeredness, a core value in tech comm that closely parallels the emphasis on student-centeredness in writing pedagogy.

    As you are likely aware, visions for user-centeredness/student-centeredness tend to be optimistic about the value and importance of student/user/reader’s role. I envision my research on IEDs as building towards a revision of those values — one that takes the potential for harmful outcomes into account. At this point, you might be wondering how research on IEDs informs my approach to writing pedagogy.  Of course, I don’t teach students how to make hand grenades. I am interested in pedagogies that create appropriate conditions for students to take meaningful risks through their own rhetoric and writing.

    By ‘meaningful risks’, I mean risks that students value — and have reason to value. In 2019, I published a piece in Prompt: A Journal of Academic Writing Assignments that examines how asking students to write for audiences outside of the college writing classroom affords students a degree of freedom to deploy writing and rhetoric in new and innovative ways that extend beyond what the instructor or textbook has taught. Overall, my pedagogy does not just create safe spaces — it provides a safe harbor for students to inhabit while considering their next voyage into a rhetorical multiverse that the instructor does not control.

    If elected to the RCWS Pedagogies forum executive committee, I will serve as a passionate advocate for the dignity of risk in writing pedagogy and for a student’s freedom to make and evaluate their own rhetorical choices. I also bring a facilitative leadership style and my passionate curiosity to listen to colleagues’ thoughts about the teaching of writing. Thank you for considering my candidacy, and I am looking forward to working with you!





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