Made Not Only in Words: Composition in a New Key Kathleen Blake Yancey

The invention of the steam press and the production of paper made reading more accessible

a population shift from rural to urban areas promoted a rising middle class who had the funds to reading materials

reading circles flourished

A London Library circa 1850

serial installments of novels became popular

modern day america

access to computers and new technology has created a larger reading/writing public

the internet and social media are the "reading/writing circles" of today

the internet has connected people from all over the world

All of these activities are happening OUTSIDE OF THE CLASSROOM!


The number of English Departments over the past 20 years is down by 30%.....where are they going???


no one can seem to agree

The short version of the definition of writing by Merriam-Webster's online version:

  • the activity or work of writing books, poems, stories, etc.
  • the way that you use written words to express your ideas or opinions
  • books, poems, essays, letters, etc.

Traditionally, the transition from high school to college-and freshman composition in particular-has been seen as a gatekeeping moment whereby many students find themselves enrolling, but not completing, college.

Today, it is estimated that 89% of students complete high school, with 65% of those students enrolling in college.

However, only 28% of Americans graduate from a 4-year college.

17% of African-Americans and only 10% of Latinos graduate from college.

Instead, what if we expanded out views and looked at college and writing as a gateway for students.

What if we designed a curriculum in composition that prepared students to become members of the writing public and to negotiate life. How might that alter what we think and what we do? Elizabeth Daley, dean of USC School of TV & Cinema


what would this new curriculum look like?
  • compose real world genres
  • decide which medium/delivery would be best-suited for communication & share with different audiences
  • think about the transfer from one medium to the next (remixing, remediation)
  • transfer learning from one site to another- on or off campus
  • reflect on how these practices prepare them to become members of the writing public

Can you think of any other possible activities???

Do you think changes in composition curriculum like those suggested by Yancey might weaken the discipline? If so, how?

my own experience with remediation this summer
Should students be expected to compose a mix of traditional and “new” genres of writing in a freshman comp course? Is there anything currently being taught in freshman comp that seems outdated or irrelevant to you?

This has been a remediation of made not only in words: composition in a new key BY: Laura Lopez

Created By
Laura Miuccio+Lopez
Created with images by weinstock - "piano keys music"

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