PWPA Fall Meeting Re-cap: Ursinus College, Sept. 23, 2011

The rain couldn’t keep a marvelous attendance at the PWPA’s first meeting of the year. The membership gathered on Friday, September 23, for its Fall meeting at Ursinus College to discuss writing-intensive pedagogy and administration. Lori Salem (Temple University) opened the day-long conference with her down-to-earth talk about the benefits and challenges of establishing a writing-intensive program, offering both wisdom and optimism for the genuine fun of talking one-on-one with faculty across the curriculum about teaching writing. Salem was followed by Michelle Filling and Seth Frechie (Cabrini College), who described their innovative, writing-intensive Engagements with the Common Good sequence offered to Cabrini students in the first, second and third years. The two anchoring presentations got everyone thinking about the multivalent project of creating a culture of writing at an institution in today’s economic climate, with faculty at various levels of support and rank, and with the needs of today’s students sharply in mind.


In the afternoon, featured guests Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein (University of Illinois at Chicago), authors of They Say, I Say, discussed their perspectives on a “one size does fit all” academic discourse, and students’ needs for writing templates. Their presentation sparked a dynamic discussion about the need for scaffolding rhetorical moves, the cultural weight of such moves, and the similar needs of writers from developmental to professional. Their talk was followed by Valerie Ross’s (University of Pennsylvania) presentation on UPenn’s Critical Writing Program, and its emphasis on discourse analysis in a “discipline-based curriculum,” that guides students through a rigorous, illuminating process of rhetorically analyzing their own and others’ writing. The final presentation of the day was Eli Goldblatt’s audience-constructed lecture. Asking the question, “Why Go Beyond WAC/WID,” Goldblatt presented the audience with 10 images, to which we were all asked to respond in writing. He closed with an open discussion about what we saw in the images, how we connected them to WAC/WID initiatives inside and outside of academia, and what we saw as the new and recurring issues in the field that demand our attention…and our continued dialogue as a group of teacher-scholars.

 

The day came to a close with a beautifully attended PWPA general meeting, where new and veteran members came together to discuss upcoming Executive Committee elections, the success of our recruiting efforts and a call to recruit new members at other institutions, our Winter social meeting, our Spring Disabilities Studies/Writing meeting, and a collaborative research project.

Thanks to all who attended….you help to make this organization special and continuously successful.

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