Why Textbook Reviews?

Posted by – April 10, 2012

After 10 years as a WPA, I have more textbooks than I know what to do with. Tribble-like, they multiply on my shelves. I take the “Instructor Copy: Not for Resale” seriously. I’ve pawned my desk copies off on colleagues, donated them to GED programs, begged the public library to take them. In my virtuous moments, I’ve taken the time to return them to the publishers. Others have landed in my recycling bin at the end of a frazzling day.

I suspect I’m not alone in feeling overwhelmed by our field’s constant influx of new textbooks and new editions. What’s a compositionist to do? How can we possibly keep up, let alone choose the right text(s) for our classes and our programs?

These questions have prompted Composition Forum to include textbooks among the works we review. We’re committed to helping our colleagues navigate this ever-evolving, increasingly prolific genre. We aim to provide insight into innovative textbook publications while validating the scholarly work that goes into them.

We’re particularly interested in publishing textbook reviews that examine how our field’s theories can and do intersect with our pedagogical praxis. To this end, our Fall 2011 issue reviewed Wardle and Downs’s Writing about Writing. Spring 2012 included a review essay exploring Fountainhead Press’s Voices series of thematic readers through the lens of sustainability.

Forthcoming issues will extend and expand this approach. While we’ll continue to feature reviews of print textbooks, we look forward to reviewing digital genres, including open source textbooks, online accompaniments to conventional print textbooks, and e-reader editions. We invite our readers to send us ideas for textbook reviews by emailing reviews@compositionforum.com. And we hope authors and publishers will keep those desk copies coming!