“Bad Ideas About Writing” – CFP

Call for Proposals: Bad Ideas About Writing

Editors: Drew M. Loewe, St. Edward’s University and Cheryl E. Ball, West Virginia University

Proposal Deadline: Sept 1, 2015

In the tradition of the provocative science- and social-science-focused book, This Idea Must Die,” the proposed collection intends to provide teachers, parents, and administrators with short, provocative, and thoroughly researched answers to the age-old question of Why Johnny Can’t Write. But rather than being a book of scapegoated ideas and strawman arguments, the authors of these essays — as scholars of rhetoric and composition — will discuss, in readable relatively jargon-free ways, why the centuries of writing instruction that undergird the “public”’s understanding of what is expected from writing instruction and how it should be taught is mostly WRONG, or at least misunderstood. The collection will provide a snapshot of major myths about writing instruction, with footnoted resources and/or annotated bibliographies for each entry, and each essay– rants, if you will — that will be followed by anti-rants or counter-arguments or decrees of agreement by other authors. We envision the collection as an agon of opinionated statements about writing instruction that will spark debate and rethinking of pieties and myths.

The primary audience of this collection is intended to be the news media, editors of national trade publications that feature regular columns on higher education and writing, teachers of writing and teachers who assign writing from K-16+, as well as concerned parents.

Possible Topics:

  • Acontextual Grammar Instruction
  • The Rhetorical Situation and Rhetorical Triangle
  • Anyone can Teach Writing
  • Teacher as Audience
  • The Research Paper
  • Plagiarism as Anti-Morality/ Plagiarism Detection Software
  • The Routinization of Process Pedagogy
  • Outlining Facilitates Invention
  • Five-paragraph Essays Are Great!
  • Text Messaging Harms Literacy
  • FYC as Inoculation
  • Games Ruin Kids’ Brains
  • Single-Document Assessments of Courses or Programs
  • Rubrics
  • Pop culture is killing high culture – as writing topics:
  • Writing is Contentless
  • Emphasizing Revision is Always the Best Way to Teach Writing
  • Universal Requirement of FYC
  • Writing Should Only Be About Writing
  • AP/SAT as Placement Mechanisms
  • MLA is the Pinnacle of Citation Forms
  • Dual-Enrollment FYC
  • Standard Written English
  • Basic Writing is for Dummies and Foreigners
  • Writing Can Be Taught in One Semester/Year

This is not an exhaustive list, and we invite contributors to propose additional topics. In addition, we also invite contributors to push back against these ideas. We seek an agon, not an echo chamber.

The editors seek 300-word proposals for entries that will be 1,200-3,000 words (plus, or including the responses). Proposals can be for the main entries or, if authors have a particular anti-stance (e.g., if someone thinks the above topics are good models of teaching writing) for response entries. Editors welcome collaborative proposals where one author (or co-authors) write the main essay and response-authors write follow-ups. If collaborative proposals are not submitted, the editors will attempt to find response authors for each post. (Yes, like the This Idea Must Die book, we imagine each chapter to be a series of bloggishly-length arguments that are supported by research and experience). The deadline for proposals is September 1, 2015. Please email questions and proposals to: drewml@stedwards.edu and s2ceball@gmail.com. (Markdown formats preferred.) Queries via email or Twitter ( @drewloewe and @s2ceball) welcome.


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7 responses to ““Bad Ideas About Writing” – CFP”

  1. Carolyn Miller Avatar
    Carolyn Miller

    Cheryl–You might be interested in this white paper (http://repository.lib.ncsu.edu/publications/handle/1840.2/2295) that my colleagues and I prepared for our dean back in 1998. It’s organized around a series of “unsupported assumptions” (which I’d be willing to call “bad ideas”) about writing instructions. –Carolyn

  2. Patty Strong Avatar
    Patty Strong

    Hi there, Cheryl. I have some pretty good stuff already written on this topic from my days as Writing Center Director. I wrote a lot to train consultants and teach my class “Writing Process and Practice.” Finally I might have a venue. Looking forward to updating a piece and proposing it for your collection. Exciting! I LOVE “this idea must die.” Thanks for all you do and I look forward to seeing you at VCU in August. ~Patty

    1. Muriel Harris Avatar

      Hi Patty, I’m a retired writing center director and eagerly await reading what you write for Cheryl Ball & Drew Loewe’s book. I assume you’re going to explode some of the absolutes that pass for ways to train tutors, but should die! Superb!

      If you want a second audience for all that you’ve written about tutor training, please do consider sending something to WLN: A Journal of Writing Center Scholarship, a writing center journal I continue to edit. I’ve included the URL in the website space above. We ask authors to stay reasonably informal and not exceed 3000 words.

      But first. write that proposal for the “Bad Ideas” book!

      If you want to chat about a second essay for WLN, please do.


  3. Jeanne Law Bohannon Avatar

    Awesome idea!!! My undergrads and graduate students (and I) will contribute.

  4. Irvin Peckham Avatar

    Great idea, Cheryl.
    Maybe the next CFP could be why professors can’t write. (Cheap shot, I know)

  5. […] couldn’t help but submit to the CFP from Cheryl Ball and Drew Loewe on some “Bad Ideas about […]

  6. Nancy DeJoy Avatar
    Nancy DeJoy

    So you think you can write without reading? Here’s why and why it doesn’t work