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!

Volume 25 published

Posted by – February 29, 2012

Composition Forum 25 (Spring 2012) is ready. This issue features an interview with Victor Villanueva, six articles, and more. Get all the details in our “From the Editors” column.

We’d love to hear what you think about this volume of Composition Forum.

Website editor position

Posted by – February 27, 2012

Composition Forum, a open access journal of pedagogical theory in rhetoric and composition, is seeking a website editor. The website editor works with other editors to prepare articles for web presentation, using both a lightweight custom content management system and Open Journal Systems.

Ideal candidates will have experience in standards-compliant web design and development, including knowledge of php, WordPress, Open Journal Systems, and Delicious. Candidates should present a vision for continuing to maintain the high quality of the Composition Forum web site while adding new functionality, digitizing the journal’s back catalog, or otherwise enhancing the journal’s site. Institutional support is not required, but is a plus. Small teams (up to two people) are welcome to apply.

To apply for the position, send a letter of application to editor Christian Weisser, <weisser@psu.edu>. Specific questions about the position can be sent to the current editor, Bradley Dilger <cb-dilger@wiu.edu>. Applications are due April 15, 2012. May 1, 2012.

Learn more about Composition Forum at http://compositionforum.com/

Faris & Selber review essay reprinted

Posted by – December 23, 2011

Composition Forum was glad to participate in the Best Writing from Independent Composition and Rhetoric Journals 2010, and we are thrilled to announce another piece has been selected for this year’s anthology!

Michael J. Faris and Stuart A. Selber’s review essay “E-Book Issues in Composition: A Partial Assessment and Perspective for Teachers” will be included in Best Writing from Independent Composition and Rhetoric Journals: 2011. The collection will be published by Parlor Press. Editors Steve Parks, Linda Adler-Kassner, and Brian Bailie hope to have copies available at CCCC in St. Louis.

Congratulations to Michael and Stuart, and thank you to everyone involved in the Best Writing 2011 collection.

Volume 24 published

Posted by – December 23, 2011

Oops, we forgot to announce the August 2011 publication of Composition Forum 24 here. Better late than never! Check it out, if you haven’t already–we’ve got a great interview with Jonathan Alexander, a review essay on e-books, three strong articles and two very useful Program Profiles, and three reviews, including one of Wardle & Downs’s Writing about Writing.

CFP: Undergraduate Writing Majors: Fourteen Program Profiles

Posted by – March 5, 2011

Composition Forum readers who appreciated Lori Ostergaard and Greg A. Giberson’s “Unifying Program Goals: Developing and Implementing a Writing and Rhetoric Major at Oakland University” will be pleased to learn they are editing a collection which continues their research.

Call for Proposals: Undergraduate Writing Majors: Fourteen Program Profiles

Editors: Greg Giberson, Ph.D., Oakland University
Jim Nugent, Ph.D., Oakland University
Lori Ostergaard, Ph.D., Oakland University

During the 2010 CCCC convention, fifteen contributors to What We Are Becoming: Developments in Undergraduate Writing Majors (Utah State University Press, 2010) participated in a roundtable discussion about the growing interest in the writing major. At least sixty people attended the standing-room only session and almost every question posed to the panel was practical in nature, representing some variation of the question “How do we do this?” The proposed collection is conceived as a follow up to What We are Becoming and attempts to answer this very question.

The proposed collection will provide a snapshot of the major through fourteen profiles from various types of institutions (liberal arts, MA, doctoral, etc.), different programs (having varied departmental configurations, sizes, and disciplinary homes), and curricular orientations (such as writing studies, professional/technical writing, new media, creative writing, etc.). The program profiles will:

  • overview the history of the program, institution, department, etc.; describe the program and the rationale for its structure;
  • provide a narrative explaining the local contingencies that helped/hindered the program’s implementation;
  • provide insight into the deliberations, arguments, and comprises that were made in developing the program;
  • include a “Connections” section explaining where the program fits in the university and how it relates to other programs such as first-year composition, WAC, writing centers, etc.;
  • include a “Reflection” section explaining what the author(s) learned about developing, implementing, running, and revising such a program;
  • include a “Looking Forward” section discussing the future of the program; and
  • offer brief supplementary materials as necessary (such as checklists, course descriptions, etc.).

While not an exhaustive list, each chapter should address these aspects of the program thoroughly. While all institutions have their own histories, cultures, and contexts, we believe the knowledge and experiences gathered in this collection will be an indispensable resource for those who find themselves asking “How do we do this?”–whether now or in the years of growth ahead.

The editors seek 500-word proposals for chapters of 5,000 to 7,000 words in length. The deadline for proposals is May 10, 2011. Please email questions and proposals in Microsoft Word or RTF format to: giberso2@oakland.edu.

Volume 23 published

Posted by – March 2, 2011

We are pleased to announce the publication of Composition Forum Volume 23, for Spring 2011. Read our “From the Editors” for a summary of this exciting issue, which features an interview with Malea Powell, three articles, two Program Profiles, and three book reviews.

With Volume 23, we are migrating to Open Journal Systems, making the work of delivering CF less labor-intensive. As we tweak our submissions and review process, we’ll share news here.

To celebrate this work, CF web editor Bradley Dilger made a tag cloud from our Delicious keyword index, which covers Volumes 18-23 of the journal. Here’s a snapshot and a link to the larger cloud.

CF Keywords, Volumes 18-23

We welcome your feedback about this volume of Composition Forum.

Patrick article reprinted

Posted by – December 11, 2010

We are pleased to note that Amy Patrick’s “Sustaining Writing Theory,” originally published in CF 21, has been selected for inclusion in Best Writing from Independent Composition and Rhetoric Journals: 2010. The collection will be published by Parlor Press. Editors Steve Parks, Linda Adler-Kassner, Brian Bailie, and Collette Caton hope to have the book in hand by this year’s CCCC.

Congratulations to Amy, and thank you to everyone involved in the Best Writing 2010 collection.

Foster article reprinted

Posted by – September 22, 2010

Congratulations to Helen Foster, whose article “Kairos and Stasis Revisited: Heuristics for the Critical Composition Classroom” (CF 14.2, 2005) will be published in Margaret M. Strain’s Principles and Practices: Discourses for the Vertical Curriculum (Hampton, 2011).

Theory and Composition Forum

Posted by – August 30, 2010

Recently, a reader’s report was returned to me with a comment suggesting that the submitted manuscript might be “too theoretical” for publication in Composition Forum. This comment prompted me, as Managing Editor, to reflect on the role of theory in the featured articles in our journal.

Of course, such a reflection begs the question of what theory is, and I suspect you’ll forgive as much, so as to avoid another extended etymological investigation of the Greek theoria and praxisComposition Forum, as its subtitle announces, is a “journal of pedagogical theory in rhetoric and composition,” and thus aims to publish work that theorizes practice in sophisticated and provocative ways, or to put it another way that practices theory in sophisticated and provocative ways.  So that’s the easy answer to the query that launched this discussion.

The more difficult question is:  what amount of theory in a manuscript would be “too much,”  what would be “too little,” and what would be “just right.”  Trust me, the “too little” scenario is the easiest to recognize and to describe.  This is the kind of submission that amounts to little more than detailed lesson plans or assignments, or “research” bereft of any methodological articulation nor any speculative discussion regarding results, or an essay that reveals a surprising unfamiliarity with the current issues or debates within the field of rhetoric and composition.  But what might be “too much” theory?  I suppose the easy answer would be the case of a submitted essay that had no conversation with or implications for the teaching of writing.   Note, however, that I did not specify that the theory had to have a pedagogical application or that it had to be translated into praxis.  On the contrary, I can imagine many a worthy investigation into how a theory could not be appropriated by classroom practices or how a theory would be at conflict with writing pedagogy or how a theory could not explain the results of a classroom study of student writers.  So what amount of theory would be “just right”?  Although not reducible to a golden mean, the “just right” essay would contribute to the ongoing conversation of our field by responding to the published scholarship in complex ways that would construct provocative ways of knowing, thinking, and doing in rhetoric and composition studies.

To this end, we invite submissions that investigate composition theory and its relation to the teaching of writing at the post-secondary level.  We welcome essays that examine specific pedagogical theories or that explore how theory informs (or should inform) writing instruction, writing practices, and research into the complex literacies of our time.

Please visit our Submissions page, and send us your manuscripts or queries.  We look forward to publishing your “just right” essay.

With best regards,

Michelle Ballif
Managing Editor

Note:  All articles published in Composition Forum are subject to rigorous peer review by at least two reviewers who are experts in the topical area.