Texts of Consequence

Call for Proposals: Texts of Consequence: Composing Rhetorics of Social Activism for the Writing Classroom. Edited by Christopher Wilkey and Nicholas Mauriello.

Published as part of the Hampton Press series on Research and Teaching in Rhetoric and Composition.

More and more students from across the country are using writing to promote a more just and democratic society. Consider the 2008 Presidential Election. Student activists from across the political spectrum are blogging and using social networks such as Facebook and MySpace to organize and write a variety of arguments designed to call attention to the most pressing civic issues of the day. These students are already excited about using writing and multimedia technologies to make a difference in the world. Many students clearly want to influence how politics is enacted during this current electoral season, but what kind of impact might student activist writers actually have on the political process? For those student writers who have yet to engage in activist work, what rhetorical tools can be made available to them as they transition into the public arena? Given our discipline’s strong interest in writing as a social activity, we are especially suited to inquire into the ways in which writing might intersect with the demands and objectives of student activism.

At this current juncture in political life, how significant is it to involve students in the kind of writing that genuinely impacts civic affairs? As scholars in the humanities, composition practitioners are skillful at calling attention to the complexities of language-use and the political nature of writing, as long-standing work in areas such as cultural studies and critical pedagogy scholarship confirms. At the same time, how effective have we been at assuring that our work as teachers and scholars actually impacts the lives of students and the broader public arena in meaningful ways? How can we use our expertise to both promote critical thinking and help students employ practical rhetorical strategies that work in the classroom and beyond? If we are serious about having students use writing to engage social issues inside and outside the classroom in ways that matter, then it only follows that we work to learn more about how the work of composition might be used to intervene more productively in the public sphere.

This collection works to theorize and demonstrate how encounters with writing in the composition classroom and beyond can intersect productively with activist rhetorical strategies and goals. By doing so, readers will gain insights into connecting the work of composition with grassroots social change, using rhetoric that makes marginalized and disenfranchised voices be taken seriously in the public arena, finding ways to actualize action as compositionists in their communities and institutions, and linking service-learning and multimedia pedagogies to activist work.

In addressing activism, chapter articles should focus on the work of social justice. Authors may choose to focus on social movements that examine unequal and unjust relationships and work to facilitate building safe, equitable, sustainable, and non-discriminatory communities. Among the social problems that authors may seek to address are issues such as racism, violence, literacy, environmental degradation, urban gentrification, educational inequity, human rights, gender equity, student rights, and poverty.

Chapter articles may address, but are not limited to, the following kinds of questions:
How might the rhetorical practices of particular social movements inform work on activist writing in composition studies?

  • What pedagogies are available to help inspire and motivate students to use writing to take responsible action in confronting injustices?
  • What pedagogical frameworks can be shown to work effectively in enacting social change?
  • How might rhetorical histories of social movements be used to motivate current activist rhetorical practices in the writing classroom and beyond?
  • What rhetorical strategies might activist writers employ to confront or protest established authorities in ways that are just? In what rhetorical situations might it be opportune to utilize a rhetoric of protest, and what implications might this have for the writing classroom?
  • What ethical dilemmas are encountered in a writing classroom designed to intersect with the needs and demands of a social movement?
  • What knowledge and actions are produced when enacting a public writing pedagogy informed by the rhetorical practices of a social movement?

Type of submissions welcomed:
20-25 page chapters

Projected Timetable:
1/15/09: initial proposals and submissions due
2/15/09 submission responses sent
7/15/09 full manuscripts due
9/01/09 manuscripts returned for revision
11/15/09 final revisions due
12/15/09 manuscript sent to publisher

Please send 500-word proposals or completed manuscripts (MS Word, PC compatible) in an email message and attachment together by no later than January 15th, 2009 to Chris Wilkey at wilkeyc@nku.edu and Nick Mauriello at nmauriello@una.edu.

Christopher Wilkey, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Composition and Rhetoric

Department of English
Northern Kentucky University
Highland Heights, KY 41099
Email: wilkeyc@nku.edu
Phone: (859) 572-5111