Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing Vol. I
Charlie Lowe, Grand Valley State University
Pavel Zemliansky, James Madison University
Pub Date: 2010
ISBN 13: 9781602351844
Publisher: WAC Clearinghouse
Conditions of Use
Comprehensiveness is hard to define and is likely variable, but this text includes chapters on a wide range of writing topics that are very relevant to the first-year writing classroom, especially. Chapters include campus resources like the... read more
Comprehensiveness is hard to define and is likely variable, but this text includes chapters on a wide range of writing topics that are very relevant to the first-year writing classroom, especially. Chapters include campus resources like the writing center and how to use them, reflective writing, collaborative writing, invention strategies, and genre.
The chapters reflect current knowledge and best practices in the field of composition. There is no apparent bias. The chapters themselves make clear arguments supported with evidence and have the potential for good classroom discussion about students' own prior writing experiences.
This textbook is nine years old, but the content of its chapters is no less relevant today. I still assign these chapters regularly in my classes. Because the textbook is organized by chapters written by different authors, it would also be easy to just substitute a single chapter in the event that it was no longer relevant. It wouldn't require throwing out the entire textbook.
One of the key benefits of this textbook is that it translates composition theory into accessible language for students. The chapter on genre, for example, covers Bitzer's rhetorical situation and Devitt's theories about genre but in a way that students can access and follow. The examples within the chapters are current and specific, which helps make the concepts easy to follow. All disciplinary terms are defined and again given really clear illustrations. These are usually some of my students' favorite readings.
Unlike a traditional textbook written by a single author, there is some variation in approach, terminology, etc. because each chapter is written by a different author. I do think that the tone of the chapters remains consistent throughout; they are written for students, they talk to students, and they are very accessible for beginning college students. The small degree of difference between chapters has never been a problem for me or my students because this isn't a textbook that requires reading all the chapters, so the chapters you choose to assign can be really tailored to your course.
One of the benefits of this textbook is that each chapter is written by a different author and therefore meant to be read on its own. The textbook doesn't reference itself, so it gives teachers maximum freedom to assign the chapters that are most relevant to their course and the particular kinds of writing they're asking students to complete. Chapters can be assigned in any order and integrated into different stages of the course.
There is no obvious design in the organization of the chapters. Each chapter covers a different topic related to writing, but there is no justification for the particular arrangement of chapters. This isn't a hinderance in how teachers can use this textbook, but it does differ from common classroom textbooks that have a very clear beginning and build from there. Those textbooks do require, however, that students mostly read the textbook in that order. The flexible organization of Writing Spaces lets teachers assign the chapters in any order that makes sense for their course.
There are no interface issues that I have ever encountered with this text. One benefit is that students can download each chapter individually as a PDF so that they can highlight and annotate as they read. All the chapters are hyperlinked so that students can go straight to the chapter they are assigned. They don't have to scroll through the entire book to find what they're looking for. My own experience using this text is that students are rarely confused with how to access the material.
No obvious errors.
I don't believe there is any material in the text that is insensitive or offensive, but it's also not super multicultural. It gives great instruction on writing in a variety of topics, but it might not be the most appealing for international students. Many of the examples are grounded in American culture. I hope future volumes will expand in this direction.
This is a great cost effective alternative to more expensive first-year writing textbooks. It grants a lot of freedom to the instructor to organize the course and their assignments in a way that makes sense and supplement with additional material that is relevant to the course. I've used many of these readings in a range of writing courses that I've taught. I highly recommend it.
Writing Spaces is a collection of chapters by various authors on a diverse range of topics (e.g., rhetorical analysis, inquiry-based writing, reflective writing, invention strategies). While what counts as "comprehensive" in a writing course is... read more
Writing Spaces is a collection of chapters by various authors on a diverse range of topics (e.g., rhetorical analysis, inquiry-based writing, reflective writing, invention strategies). While what counts as "comprehensive" in a writing course is likely to vary by instructor and approach, this text does a wonderful job of including the standard topics you would expect to see in a quality first-year writing text as well several topics not as common (but welcome additions for at least this reviewer). The arrangement of the text as as series of topic-based chapters written by different authors has the advantage of including both a diversity of perspective as well as the option of assigning chapters out-of-order.
While some chapters take a strong perspective on writing-relevant issue (e.g., James Purdy's "Wikipedia is Good for You!"), the text is free of any clear bias and accurate to contemporary research on best practices in writing instruction.
The text (now about eight years past its initial publication) reads as relevant today. The arrangement of the chapters would also make it quite easy to skip or supplement any chapters that might age poorly in coming years.
While there are nineteen individual authors contributing to this text, all do a wonderful job of keeping the prose of the text accessible for a first-year writing class audience.
As this text is written by a number of authors and with chapters functioning as (generally) independent units (rather than components of a scaffolded or scaled series of readings), consistency of terminology and approach does vary a little more than that of a single-author textbook written in a more traditional format. That said, I did not find they variations to be contradictory or problematic in any way and do not expect them to lead to confusion on behalf of students.
A key feature of this book is the modularity of its chapters. In my first-year course, for instance, I have used one chapter ("Backpacks vs. Briefcases") without any of the accompanying chapters or context of the book as a whole.
Organization is not is not as much of an issues for this text as the chapters move through different topics as opposed to each chapter building on or directly complementing earlier ones. That said, the organization works very well give this approach.
The text is very easy to navigate.
I did not detect any errors in grammar.
While the text does not show explicit attention to presenting a particularly diverse range of examples from different cultures, I would consider it on par or superior to most textbooks in this regard and it does not show any insensitivity in this area.
I think most first-year-writing instructors would find at least several of the chapters of *Writing Spaces* useful for their course and the structure of the text makes is very easy to choose whichever chapters might be best for your purposes without having to commit to using the entirety of the text.
This text is striving for comprehensiveness. It is attempting to cover a lot of composition ground in 262 pages; however, because it is trying to cover so many topics, it does not go as in-depth as it could. It begins by addressing a first-year... read more
This text is striving for comprehensiveness. It is attempting to cover a lot of composition ground in 262 pages; however, because it is trying to cover so many topics, it does not go as in-depth as it could. It begins by addressing a first-year composition student entering a composition classroom on the first day of college. Many of the essays imagine this scenario, yet some of the later essays appear to address an advanced audience without covering enough of the middle ground needed to help them advance. The book contains a table of contents and a good index. More content is needed that focuses on the intermediate stages of writing.
The essays collected in this book are largely subjective. Numerous essays are opinion-based works about assignments or strategies that have worked for the authors as writers. These essays appear to be accurate. Some essays present information about inductive and deductive reasoning or argument structure, and the content of these essays is accurate.
Most of the information seems to have relevance and longevity. Occasionally, a dated phrase will appear, such as “on the WWW” (111), but this happens in most textbooks. The screenshots in the essay entitled “Collaborating Online: Digital Strategies for Group Work” may need to be updated over time.
Overall, the book needs more clarity as to its purpose and audience. Sometimes, it is writing to students, and sometimes it is writing to teachers. This is an issue that would affect first-year writers greatly because sometimes the advice given is really for instructors. For example, students would probably not know what they are supposed to do with “classroom activities” such as are discussed in “Reinventing Invention.” Another example is “Wikipedia Is Good for You!?” While it’s an interesting idea for instructors to assign students to write a Wikipedia article, this isn’t something the first-semester composition student is likely to undertake alone. This division of purpose and audience creates a lack of clarity in the authors’ sentences and language that might cause a first-year composition student to struggle.
This category is my biggest complaint with this book. The tone is inconsistent over the book and within the essays themselves. Many textbooks provide instructor materials. This book seems to be trying to avoid providing instructor materials by including them in the essays that are written towards students. This creates a dual audience, one that the authors switch between. This might not be clear to a first-year composition audience. For example, in “Reinventing Invention,” there is a section that reads like a case study of a classroom activity (112-116), which is labeled “Classroom Activity 1.” It seems almost as though it was originally written as a portion of an article. A student in a first-year composition course would have no control over the classroom activities conducted therein, and it reads like it was written for an instructor. Then the labels switch to “Group Activity 2” and then back to “Classroom Activity 3.” This is one example of several throughout the book.
Since there is no connective material between the essays, the book itself is very modular. Each essay tackles a specific topic, and there are few references among the essays within the book. The essays also have subheadings, so they could be assigned as smaller sections.
The essays could have been arranged more effectively. There is a block of three essays about invention that possibly should have come earlier. I also question some of the content’s effectiveness for a first-year composition student. Some of these essays are good ideas for instructors of first-year composition courses, but they couldn’t be assigned to first-year students. Some of these essays that seem more like idea-building for instructors are clearly addressed to students, though.
I used the PDF version, and I had no issues with reading any of the materials. The interface is excellent.
There are some small spelling errors, and these vary depending on the essay since each essay is written by a different author. Examples include you vs. your or important vs. importance. These are small oversights.
More work needs to be done with diversity and inclusive examples in this text. There are some small nods to cultural diversity, but it is mostly overlooked. I wouldn’t label any material offensive.
While I can see myself using a chapter or two, such as “What Is ‘Academic’ Writing?” this book cannot replace my current textbooks. I could use portions of it, but I couldn’t use it in its entirety. It doesn’t cover the subject of first-year composition comprehensively enough, nor does it offer enough hands-on, practical knowledge for students. It also cannot replace the “readings” portion of my current textbook which uses academic articles for building context around assigned paper topics. This book does provide some good essays for helping first-year students understand what college-level academic writing is, and it offers good context essays for specific assignments that a composition instructor might give students. Some of the essays that relate specifically to assignments I give could be valuable to my students when assigned outside of the overall book as individual modules. This book also has potential value as a guide for composition course instructors in relation to assignment ideas and course instruction strategies. Overall, the book needs to determine its audience—possibly provide resources for instructors in a separate section—and work from there, separating what is useful for students in a first-semester composition course, what is useful for instructors of a first-semester composition course, and what is useful for more advanced students. There is a lot of good material here that could be useful to each of these three categories of people, but it needs to be divided and re-shaped around specific audiences and purposes.
Comprehensiveness Overall, this book could work to compliment other source material necessary for a variety of classroom settings. The text covers all areas an ideas necessary in order to be appropriate for the subject in question as well as... read more
Comprehensiveness Overall, this book could work to compliment other source material necessary for a variety of classroom settings. The text covers all areas an ideas necessary in order to be appropriate for the subject in question as well as provides an adequate index and glossary. The chapters are also helpful in providing works cited and questions for further analysis.
Accuracy As with any piece of writing, the author brings to it their own bias depending on their choice of language and experiences. However, there appears to be no highly inaccurate content that stands out as inappropriate or highly unethical. Overall, good choices in the content itself - looks to be helpful to instructors and students alike.
Relevance/Longevity The content is on writing techniques that have been proven, time after time, to be efficient and they are presented by different perspectives as well and that keeps the relevance varied and interesting for the reader. Also, the chapters that tackle the importance of Wikipedia and the direction of Digital Collaborations help to keep the book relevant and informed on the different directions that the Humanities are headed into.
Clarity The prose, even though it seems to be written more towards the teacher/instructor, is accessible for a variety of readers. The text does a good job of providing the necessary context when introducing certain technical terms and it aims to engage the students to analyze their own writing techniques and how they can continually improve on them.
Consistency The chapters all play a role investigating different writing techniques and examples of language choice and styles. Overall it is excellent that each chapter has the opportunity to stand alone and be used by the instructor to teach varying levels of understanding/comprehension within classroom settings. Also, depending on the nature of the classroom the text can be used as a pedagogical tool for writers / educators at a higher level setting or classroom in order to help structure daily lesson plans and the like.
Modularity As mentioned before, the readily divisible sections make it so that chapters can be assigned at different points during a busy semester. The book works well to complement other reading assignments, examples, and activities.
Organization/Structure/Flow The text is clear enough in structure and the organization doesn't detract from an overall full grasp on the subject of writing. However, it is my opinion that the chapters on the Writing Center, Digital Emphasis, and Collaborations should have been last, instead of interspersed within the book. Usually, a first year writing class will focus on the "Do's" and "Don'ts" of academic writing, as well as the main objectives that need to be met in order to successfully complete an assignment and therefore won't cover much on the collaborative projects or digital work until the end (if at all). I would have more emphasis placed on the importance of peer workshops and the help of writing centers though in order to help students find extra motivation to reach outside of their own eyes and know that usually writing is a collaborative effort that takes more time than they realize.
Interface This digital book seems to work very well in regards to visibility, legibility, and overall scanning consistencies when moving from page to page. It is free of distracting interface issues or fonts. There are no major navigation issues or any distortions to the chapters or images.
Grammar Overall, the book has some minor grammatical errors, but nothing big that will distract from the reading experience or change the context of the ideas being presented within.
Cultural Relevance I would say that this text is culturally relevant to college educators and the students in first year writing classes. The examples or authors could have been more varies in order to meet a more diverse view and different challenges of writing outside of the usual but it doesn't offer any insensitive or offensive remarks.
Overall, I do believe that this volume could work very well as a companion to other source material within a writing class at a university level. It has a clear purpose that attempts to engage the student reader and writer in a different way through the choice of techniques and writing structures that they are already familiar with. However, I cannot see this book as a stand-alone text in a writing classroom that also has to find time to present the necessary material for students to understand a range of terminology, activities, and examples in order to meet the assignment guidelines throughout any given semester.
The text includes both theoretical discussions, on topics such as rhetorical strategy and plagiarism, and practical suggestions, on topics such as invention and reflection, for teachers of writing and students of writing to consider. The essays... read more
The text includes both theoretical discussions, on topics such as rhetorical strategy and plagiarism, and practical suggestions, on topics such as invention and reflection, for teachers of writing and students of writing to consider. The essays addressed other helpful topics including the possible differences between writing in high school and writing in college, the importance of visiting the writing center, strategies for understanding writing assignments, tactics to determine writing topics, ways to consider and incorporate peer review, and suggestions for working in groups – from assessing the assignment to presenting the assignment. Essays on documentation and more on specific genres may have been helpful. The contents page and index are useful and well organized. There is not a glossary. The different voices of the writers kept the reading engaging; however, some of the essays seemed to be geared toward an instructor as audience as compared to a student as audience.
I did not find any specific issues with content accuracy; although, the shift in intended audience at times made me wonder who the book is really for – students or instructors.
There are many concepts within the text that seem timeless: writing process, invention, peer review, writing centers, etc. I did wonder if the specific technologies noted in the essay on group work will be perpetual. Some of the examples are already dated, such as the Nadya Suleman one in “From Topic to Presentation” essay. The structure of the text, though, allows for easy update with future editions.
Overall, the different writings come through with clarity. Some of the essays included a conversational tone that students will find approachable. The use of specific examples throughout helps to bring the ideas beyond concepts and into a practical realm. There were only a couple of essays where clarity may be a concern: “Composing the Anthology” – it seemed questions remained unanswered as to the benefits in a first-year writing class – and “Wikipedia is Good for You?” – while I understood the concept, I’d steer away from using this in fear students may misinterpret.
Even though each essay comes through with a different voice and intended audience, there was consistency with terminology and framework. Taken as a whole, the text works to provide a foundation for writing concepts and theory and to take away some of the anxiousness associated with writing.
Because the text is comprised of individual essays written by different authors, there is automatic modularity. The text can be downloaded as a whole or as individual essays. The search feature of the pdf file and the index also provide easy access to specific concepts found within the differing essays – creating an opportunity to create ‘modules’ by combining parts of essays.
I might consider a reorganization of the essays to begin with theoretical concepts and funnel down to practical applications; however, the fact that each essay can be downloaded individually provides opportunity to create the desired order. The difference in intended audience also seemed to affect flow. The consistency of the ‘discussion questions’ at the end of the essays was appreciated.
I had no issues with the interface. The opening the options of pdf as a full text and as individual chapters occurred with ease. I appreciate that there are also softcover and e-book options.
Very, very few grammar or mechanic concerns.
The text did not appear to be culturally insensitive. More examples of cultures and social backgrounds could be included.
I look forward to incorporating many of the essays to balance the mode-based text I already use.
Writing Spaces (Volume 1) covers a wide range of topics suitable for freshmen composition. The first noticeable characteristic is that the text directly addresses first-year college students, which draws the students into the text. Secondly, the... read more
Writing Spaces (Volume 1) covers a wide range of topics suitable for freshmen composition. The first noticeable characteristic is that the text directly addresses first-year college students, which draws the students into the text. Secondly, the text explains complex rhetorical concepts in a style that is easy to capture. For example, the first essay of “What is Academic Writing” by L. Lennie Irvin provides a good introduction to the basic terms such as academic writing situation and the format, a synopsis of the key skills required for the freshmen composition, and an illustration of college writing assignments. The third point worth mentioning is the discussion activities at the end of each essay, which provoke deep critical thinking by making connections, comparison and contrast and giving scenarios for students to practice writing. Last but not least, the text includes essays that pinpoint the issues that are often overlooked by students. For example, in “Taking Flight”, Susan E. Antlitz points out the importance of positioning one’s identity in the public context and gives practice advice with detailed examples on the invention process, which is applicable to the college students. However, I did not see texts that address the writing issues and challenges faced by ESL writers. I used Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue” in my ENG109 class and it resonated well with non-native speakers. Also, future editions could add texts focusing on multimodal writing and visualizing texts. College students frequently have to complete digital projects, so it could be necessary to add these chapters.
The text is informative based on the practices and pedagogy. The explanation of the technical terms is accurate and expressed in a clear way. For example, the chart of Toulmin Model and the definition of the technical terms by Rebecca Jones are effective.
Most of the articles deal with writing concepts, key terms, models and strategies will last for a long time. However, the articles on technology such as online collaboration tools might be updated later.
Speaking directly to the students, most writers express their ideas clearly and write in a style that is approachable. In addition, some article such as “So you’ve got a writing assignment” gives thorough directions on how to interpret college writing assignments; “Taking flight: The discussion of writing identity” provides explicit strategies to combat writing anxiety; “Finding your way in” offers clear, effective methods for invention. However, some of the essays do not provide guidance on how to write the essay beyond the techniques, or the discussion is too detailed to drown the readers.
The text has a consistent voice addressing the undergraduate students as the audience. Also, it provides a platform for writers to express their opinions from different perspectives and invites students to join the academic conversation with the awareness of multiple viewpoints. But the underlying theme of preparing students to transit from high school to college writing orchestrates the articles into a symphony.
Each chapter in Volume 1 could be used separately as a unit. Moreover, the website provides options of downloading the whole book or individual chapters, which makes it easier for teachers to reorganize the articles and form modules based on their course emphasis. Because I teach ENG109 freshman composition and rhetoric, I would like to begin with the “What is academic writing?” and “So you’ve got a writing assignment”, “From topic to presentation” as the introduction module of the basic terms in college writing, followed by the module of rhetorical analysis “Backpacks vs. Briefcases”, and then the module of argumentation “Finding the good argument”, the module of revision “Reflective writing and the revision process” and finally the module of using technology in writing “Wikipedia” and “Collaborative online”.
The overall organization of Wring Spaces is clear and well-structured from basic understanding of academic writing, assignments, writing process to more complex issues such as revision and technology. However, to improve the flow of ideas, certain chapters could be grouped together, such as “Taking flight: The discussion of writing identity” and “I need you to say I” that address the personal identity and voice. “Why visit your campus writing center” could be clustered with “Reflective writing and the revision process” that focuses on the stages of revising. The last chapter of “Navigating genres” could be put at the beginning as the basic introduction of college writing. The structure of most essays is clear with headings, subheadings, list and bullet points. The discussion questions reinforce the content of each chapter, but it would be better if some questions focus on essay structure, the specific steps to complete the writing assignment and ways to apply the strategies.
The overall interface is user-friendly, but it would be easier for students to locate a specific chapter if a hyperlink is inserted in the index.
I did not see significant grammar errors.
Writing Spaces has demonstrated cultural sensitivity throughout the volume. Several articles have referred to race, gender and ethnicity. More writers of different cultural and linguistic backgrounds will add strength to the volume. Especially the articles address the issues faced by multilingual college writers are in need.
Writing Spaces vol. 1 is a good supplemental reading book for college students in different disciplines. It gives students a clear picture of the basics in academic writing and also gives students explicit instruction as well as practical strategies to deal with a variety of issues. The accessibility of this book makes it a valuable resource for freshman writers.
As anyone who as ever taught composition at the university level knows, teaching this subject matter is extraordinarily complex. Writing Spaces does an excellent job of covering the subject matter from multiple angles. From the nuts and bolts... read more
As anyone who as ever taught composition at the university level knows, teaching this subject matter is extraordinarily complex. Writing Spaces does an excellent job of covering the subject matter from multiple angles. From the nuts and bolts level of effective organization and writing according to MLA style guidelines to the more abstract, yet essential, questions of how to address questions of audience and purpose. The book rightly emphasizes that good writing in an academic setting hinges upon understanding an instructors guidelines and knowing what it is that needs to be achieved. Whether it's addressing creating a debatable thesis that serves as a paper's foundation or whether addressing the subtle nuances of when it's a appropriate to use the first person I when writing academically, Writing Spaces covers a lot of ground and provides a valuable source for academic writers.
Because this book is written in a flexible manner that takes into account the possibility that each instructor will come with his/her personal take, it succeeds in accurately describing the challenges faced by newcomers to academic writing. By describing possible scenarios such as writing a philosophy paper on ethics or a biology paper on genes, Writing Spaces does an excellent job of showing the malleable approach required in order to meet the unique demands that writing, in different genres and subject matters, places on writers.
Arranged in chapters that alternatively address the basics of composition or the more nuanced questions of style and taking ownership of one's intellectual ideas by breaking interdictions of using the personal I in writing, I'm convinced that Writing Spaces will remain an up-to-date and compelling sources for writers. If there are any chapters that are deemed less useful for a particular instructor, it would be easy to forego them or to add new information as an instructor sees fit.
Writing Spaces is very accessible and writing in a lively prose that is personable and addresses the writer as a living, thinking and emotional being who will undoubtedly face challenges, writer's block and all the uncertainty that goes along with the writing process. Rather than just glossing over these challenges Writing Spaces dares to address writing in a holistic manner that is both practical and psychologically relevant.
The book is consistent in the sense that it acknowledges that a writer has to approach writing like a battlefield on multiple fronts that engage students intellectually, creatively and emotionally.
The book is definitely "readymade" for teaching a freshman level composition class with sections that would be manageable to tackle in one or multiple class sessions. It is well organized and proceeds in logical manner.
The flow proceeds naturally from the basics of writing to more challenging aesthetic questions.
The books interface is simple and straightforward.
The book is grammatically sound.
Writing Spaces addresses the challenges of entering into an "alien discourse" that of academia. It acknowledges that it's a language that many writers will have to learn. Sarah Allen, when speaking about this new discourse, suggests that learning to write well will demand that students dive into subject matters like ethnicity, Marxism, gender etc. with openness and a willingness to learn about heterogenous perspectives.
As a professor who strives to raise the bar on writing for my own students, I'm glad to know that Writing Spaces is available as a source. It's pithy and full of valuable reminders of what it takes to write well.
The first volume of Writing Spaces covers many topics that are essential to a first-year writing student's education, including an explication of academic writing, the writing process, and argumentation. The essays within the text dispel common... read more
The first volume of Writing Spaces covers many topics that are essential to a first-year writing student's education, including an explication of academic writing, the writing process, and argumentation. The essays within the text dispel common myths about writers and writing, as well as offer practical strategies for students on topics like how to interpret a writing assignment. Writing Spaces is not entirely comprehensive, however, as it largely ignores grammar and punctuation—areas in which first-year college writing students typically need support. Furthermore, an essay with special considerations for ELL students would be a helpful addition, as would an essay containing a discussion of specific rhetorical modes of development.
I did not notice any inaccuracies.
For the most part, Writing Spaces is built upon rhetorical principles that are not likely to change in the near future. However, essays containing references to technology could become outdated at some point.
Many of the essays within Writing Spaces use a personal tone that is largely geared toward college students. Complex terms are often defined for the reader, and relevant examples are used when appropriate. Overall, I believe students will find the essays accessible, useful, and relatively easy to read.
The textbook is consistent in terms of how it uses rhetorical concepts as well as its inclusion of discussion questions at the end of each essay.
I like that the essays can be downloaded individually or as a collection and that they can easily be assigned in an order that aligns with course objectives and student needs.
The organization is fine. As I mentioned, an instructor can easily make adjustments to the order of the essays as needed.
I had to enlarge a cartoon that was used in the Jones article in order to see it properly. Other than that, I did not experience any significant interface problems.
The text contains no obvious grammatical errors.
It would be helpful to include an essay that addresses ELL student concerns. Beyond that, I see no evidence of cultural insensitivity.
This text speaks to student writers in essay form rather than in the drier mode of a traditional, skills-based textbook. Writing Spaces offers practical advice, but, more importantly, it invites students into the conversation on common writing... read more
This text speaks to student writers in essay form rather than in the drier mode of a traditional, skills-based textbook. Writing Spaces offers practical advice, but, more importantly, it invites students into the conversation on common writing challenges, demystifying rather than merely presenting composition strategies. Some may find the discussions belabored, and sometimes they are, but mostly the essays shed new light on the academic writing experience. These essays seek to clear the air as well as help students write more effectively. I would assign several of these as readings--to complement other skills-based resources--in various first year writing courses that I teach. This text offers an index and table of contents. Here is a summary of what I found useful/problematic, essay by essay (in order): Introduction: The introduction almost feels like it’s written for an instructor, though it is supposedly geared to students. It would be more appropriate as a briefer prologue, or perhaps there should be a brief “how to use this textbook” letter written to instructors. It begins with an awkward multiple choice meant to engage students, but it didn’t quite make sense/work. What is “Academic” Writing?: I appreciated the brief discussion of writing myths, and the overview of the “critical essay” writing commonly expected in college courses—the emphasis on these essays as “literary tasks” (focus on analysis and argumentation) rather than mere assignments or summaries was appreciated. So You’ve Got a Writing Assignment: I would use the model walk-through of how to analyze an assignment with one of my own introductory writing assignments. We as instructors often assume students know how to read an assignment sheet—it seems obvious to us. But students struggle, and it would be worth spending time on this basic concept in a first year writing course (the chart on p. 26 is useful along with the series of questions students should ask themselves about an assignment, such as “Do I need an argument?”). I appreciated the essay’s discussion of writing anxiety, but I wish it would have more clearly addressed the fact that instructors have differing expectations (and that this can be frustrating), just to prepare them for this balancing act and to help them see that it’s all part of adapting to different writing situations. The Inspired Writer vs. the Real Writer: Great concept, but the analysis is too thorough, with not enough practical application for students—perhaps written too much for composition/rhetoric peers rather than for a student audience; I appreciated the comp/rhet references, but I’m not sure my students would. Backpacks vs. Briefcases: This essay, which addresses rhetorical analysis strategies, would have been more effective if it had offered more suggestions for writing a rhetorical analysis toward the end of the essay—along with more focus on applying techniques to the analysis of articles (that may be used for research, etc.). From Topic to Presentation: Although the choice of subject matter (Nadya Suleman/fertility choices) is questionable, the model of the writing process and how to respond to feedback is helpful and thorough. The drafting discussion, including the emphasis on the “zero” draft, is effective. Taking Flight: The discussion of writing identity (as individual and collective) is overall effective, as it addresses a common problem with students--connecting to topics (whether assigned or self-selected). The essay addresses the dilemma of writing for/with self and for/with others—particularly within academia; furthermore, interesting exercises are offered for getting students to come up with fresh research/writing topics. This piece loses me a little with its references to prayer, meditation, crystals, and role-playing, but students may find these suggestions refreshing. I enjoyed the sections on creativity/play, anxiety/procrastination, and working with (not against) distractions. Overall, great and varied ideas to address writer’s block. Reinvention Invention: Students need loads of instruction on invention, and this essay provides strategies as well as context. A comment like “Learning to reimagine writing as an opportunity to create something original rather than as a duty to respond predictably can be challenging” should resonate with many students. The activity described on p. 121 for “Refining Topics for Research,” although elaborate, offers a practical series of steps for helping students with a common struggle—refining a topic idea into a more sophisticated research question/project. Overall, this essay offers a nice discussion on the importance of pre-writing, brainstorming, and taking time to incubate and evolve a topic. “Finding Your Way In”: Offers an effective discussion of critical freewriting, flexible outlining, and bulleting strategies for invention. This essay complements the one that came before it in the text. Why Visit your Campus Writing Center: The Web MD reference on pp. 151-52 seems awkward as a way to introduce the anxiety involved in visiting a tutor, but overall effective discussion in this essay for why to use tutors/how to use the service/what to be aware of. Maybe this essay should be placed at the end of the text? I appreciated short bullet list summary at the essay’s end but a set of numerical steps for “how to prepare” for an effective writing tutor experience would be a nice addition. Finding the Good Argument: This essay offers a much needed discussion on the complexity of argumentation, yet it does so in a practical/usable way, unlike many in-depth argumentative writing textbooks that tend to complicate argumentation unnecessarily for first year writing students. I like the Jon Stewart clip and correlating activity. Great to see the caution against pro-con arguments. Argument is “multiple and complex”… yes. Inductive/deductive discussion is decent. The explanation of Toulmin is effective; the charting out of an argument on p. 171 provides a nice visual for students. The discussion of pragma-dialectics seems overly pedantic, not practical/applicable for many students--good concept but could be adapted to audience better or perhaps should be left out. “I need you to say I’”: I really appreciated the extensive discussion of “I-less-ness” and using “I” in academic writing--a much needed discussion. I appreciated the use of examples to also show its acceptance in varying academic disciplines. The discussion of when to avoid “I” could perhaps be expanded, maybe commenting more so on the unnecessary “I believe/I feel/I think” often overused in student writing. Reflective Writing and the Revision Process: A refreshing discussion (hard to find) on the importance of reflective writing as it relates to the writing process (especially revision). Nice examples of a reflective letter assignment. The essay could be broken down with more checklists/bullets instead of heavy paragraphing. I like the “How It Helps Me (the instructor) Help You” section and the emphasis on revision. Wikipedia is good for you!?: Interesting focus on Wikipedia, which is likely a smart choice since it’s the “go-to” for many students, but I would clarify immediately that the suggestion is to NOT use it as a source but as a lead. Overall, the essay does a nice job of using Wikipedia to demonstrate the writing process, including illuminating the practice of peer review, with references such as “like a successful Wikipedian” you should… Composing the Anthology: An Exercise in Patchwriting: Although an interesting article, it seems more appropriately geared to writing instructors--not students. Collaborating Online: This essay seems too specialized to be included in this compilation; maybe this would be better as a collaborative writing chapter with a section of it on online collaboration and tools. As is, I didn’t find it useful; however, I do not teach fully online writing courses at this time--an online instructor might find this essay more applicable. Navigating Genres: This essay offers an important definition of genre, and in a playful way (with references to country music, humor writing, and a practice exercise with a ransom note), helping students to understand what the term means and how to apply it.
As a whole, I find the text to be accurate. I have commented on certain content concerns in my commentary on each essay, above.
Many of the strategies and concepts addressed in this text are timeless, so the essays should be usable for some time. Some pop culture or current events references seem outdated, such as the sample with Nadya Suleman in “From Topic to Presentation.” The directive in “Finding the Good Argument” to “Think back to the coverage of the last major election cycle in 2008” (p. 157) seems like an outdated reference as well.
It is hard to comment on clarity, as each essay is written in a different voice. Some essays are definitely more clearly written for a student reader. Overall, each piece is fairly well-written, but a few of the voices feel out of sync with the work as a whole and could use editing for readability and appropriateness to a first year writing classroom. I comment on some specifics in the grammar section and above.
Perhaps a consistent documentation style should be used throughout the textbook? Unless the intention was to show different methods side by side. Overall, the message and themes were consistent, although the voices varied. It seemed like a similar writing philosophy and pedagogy drove the principles and strategies offered in this text. p. 150: it seems a comma after “says” would be more accurate, to introduce quotation. In next paragraph, past tense is used to introduce quote. Perhaps this is intentional, or maybe it should be more consistent?
Yes, the text is written to be easily divisible for the most part. There are times when paragraphing and idea development seem heavy, but overall headings and subheadings were used effectively. Furthermore, the introduction reminds student readers that they can go to the website for a keyword search. The introduction seems a bit overly self-referential, which is why it should perhaps be a prologue or letter to intructors rather than an overt discussion fo the OER. The introduction isn't really an introduction to the text; it's an introduction to OER.
Effective repeat of title and author names at tops/bottoms of each page (title at top/author bottom). Although at first I found myself wanting chapter numbers, I realized that the lack of chapter numbers is likely intentional to allow more flexibility with the use of this OER--it makes it easily adaptable, etc. I would have the “Finding Your way In” essay be more clearly titled in a way that highlights its effective discussion of planning/outlining/organizing, to distinguish it more so from the other invention essay in this text.
Overall, very easy-to-nagivate text. I noticed no problems with display features.
p. 14: free means there is no need to for you to either p. 18: reference to “turn your nose” doesn’t quite fit p. 19 (wordy): We will start by clearing up some of those wild misconceptions people often arrive at college possessing.. p. 21 (Awkward prose): When we speak, we inhabit the communication situation bodily in three dimensions0 p. 24: italicize discuss in “interpret the word discuss in one way” (and other verbs when referencing directy throughout this chapter) p.35 (word choice/agonistic): It’s more of an agonistic kind of thing. p. 36 (akward reference): reference to “virtual MLK, Jr.” p. 65: As the example topics show, some them were p. 67 (akward wording): This essay’s goal is to support the position that exploiting multiple children harms them by skewing their experience of family and emotionally harming them. p. 129: To be consistent with MLA/APA suggestions, I would italicize New York Times. p. 135 (wordy): Critical freewriting encourages recursive thinking that enables you to create a body of ideas and to further decide which ones might be worth researching and which themes might work together in constructing a coherent, yet flexible pattern of ideas. P. 154: the mission states--use comma instead of colon to introduce quote. P/ 161: Paying more addition to the details of (should be paying more attention). p. 171: use of “others” seems awkward in paragraph under chart.
Examples overall could be more inclusive and varied. Although it wasn’t personally offensive to me, the suggestion toward prayer and meditation as a way to cope with writing anxiety seemed a bit off, in “Taking Flight.” In "The Inspired Writer," pp. 35-36 reference to “virtual MLK, Jr” seems off.
Overall, a high quality OER with lots of potential for use in the first year writing classroom.
Instructors who might adopt this text need more organization in the Table of Contents. Here are some suggestions: Pre-writing: Bunn 71/Charleton 122/ Exploratory writing: (Reid3/Ramsdell 270/ perhaps Boyd) Essay Writing: Krause 71/ DasBender 37/... read more
Instructors who might adopt this text need more organization in the Table of Contents. Here are some suggestions: Pre-writing: Bunn 71/Charleton 122/ Exploratory writing: (Reid3/Ramsdell 270/ perhaps Boyd) Essay Writing: Krause 71/ DasBender 37/ SAvini 52/Corcoran 24 /Kahn 175/Lynch 286 Reserach Driscoll 153/Haller 193/Rosenberg 210/ McClure 221/Stedman 242/ Walker 257 TEchnology and Research (Alex Reid 302, Barton-Klint 320 Group work Ingalls Even though this is a modular text, you can see from the above suggestions, that what is offered is somewhat uneven. I believe there was only one essay that touched on peer review at all, important in any kind of writing. Some of the essays that are exploratory about how to write or get started don't connect well necessarily with how to do research. Is research writing the primary aim of this text? It is hard to know, since the text seems to lack identity right now as to its audience and the connections it needs to make from pre-writing to storytelling (?) essay writing (?) research writing (?) These are very different kinds of writing. Mastering one doesn't necessarily lead to proficiency in another. More connection of concepts from selection to selection might be needed. Also, what kind of audience is this book for? What kind of level of student? It seemed to be all over the place. ,. Perhaps less could be more in this regard, or better connections/organization.
I did not find any glaring inaccuracies. Since the text is not heavy on technology, and is more about applications of theoretical theories of writing, it is more a question of how the various styles affect communication. On p. 104, for example, I found he statement: "First-year writing is about making stuff up." This is an example of how some of the authors, especially,Reid, Corcoran, Kahn and Rosenberg write for a perceived audience that is adolescent, and I am not sure this is successful. It leads to interpretations of writing that aren't necessarily well-thought out. I thought this is the author attempting to appeal to students who didn't want to write. Co-incidentally, these authors also had long sentences, or meandering personal thoughts that really didn't add to the text. If you compare this kind of writing to the polished work of Ingalls and Krause, you see how much more comprehensively written the latter are ( and the offerings later in the text in general). I guess I am addressing the accuracy and acuity that comes through well thought-out approaches to instruction
Except for a few of the entries that are based in technology, the text could last quite a long time. Hopefully, Google Docs and other programs will be with us for a while.
I found some examples of writers stumbling over their sentences, as if the text was written pretty quickly and the deadline was nearing. This at times made the text less effective. I found this to be true especially of Reid, Corcoran and Kahn. With Reid's essay, to use as an example, the reliance on parenthesis and dashes made me feel as if she hadn't really done the final draft. The address to the student audience seemed rushed and made a lot of assumptions, as it did with Corcoran and Kahn. "Trading rules for freedom" (109) is not exactly how the student works in a research environment, and while I see the need for freedom, there needs to be some bridging essay that would help students go from free-writing to more polished writing. This is always a challenge, of course, On the other hand, Ingalls, Krause, Walker, and Lynch wrote essays that were beautifully clear and could be easily understood, since they had taken more time to think through steps and processes, and had a respectful, and considerate understanding of their audience ( not an imagined one).
As I have said, the writing largely in the first half of the text needs considerable re-writing. I found that that the essays on research were written more carefully generally. The essays on how to write, or how to generate writing,seemed to be less carefully written. The style was free and easy, but this often led to less effective paragraphs, lack of cohesion, and less effective writing models. Some of the authors were relying on the theories of composition gurus like Wendy Bishop, and others were relying more on their own ideas. The lack of consistency between the interpretations of other's work and writers who could really own their ideas often showed in the writing itself. Some of the essays seemed only half instructive, as if the author was not really grounded in what he or she was writing about. Again, it gets back to the purpose of the book, and its lack of big picture organization which could be resolved through better organization of overall contents
Yes, I see that this is a modular book, and I realize that any essay might be extracted at any time and fit into a course. Why, though, was a storytelling essay (270) and an essay on the essay ( 286)inserted into a grouping of essays on sources, MLA, and other research-related material toward the end of the text ?. These were well-written essays, but they would seem to relate to other kinds of writing offered in the text. Given how the text is organized, I would think composition instructors or any instructor would like some direction on how the text might be used. This book might be adopted, and/or adapted, more easily if it offered some bridging or direction, as I suggested in #1.
I think I have addressed the over- all structure and flow in #1; improvements could be made. Another problem in the book is not only the content, but the kind of student it attempts to address. Sometimes I felt authors were addressing students who perceived writing as "hard' or uncool, and the authors were trying to show how cool writing really was. Authors talked about their own difficulties, which I am not sure helped their work. Use of FYW and RLW, or whatever, were used to mimic texting mentality, I guess. So, part of the uneven flow at the sentence and paragraph level come from writers who are writing for a perceived audience who do not like writing. There are many examples that might be found here, but p. 184 is illustrative of this . This approach falls away later when writers write about research techniques. These writers seem more grounded toward a more mature audience. Again, there is a problem with identification of the kind of student the text is really addressing and why. Students who complete the essays on free-writing and essay writing aren't magically going to become more mature later, so some bridging or re-thinking might help this. An instructors can supply gaps in instruction, up to a point. More could be done with this in the text..
All the charts, etc, seem fine. I could not access the last essay (Beyond Black and White)
I found one typo on p. 45, ironically when the author was talking about modeling good writing. Most of the problems were related to style and revision, particularly long, drawn-out sentences where ideas sometimes stumbled over each other, and also problems with address. Some examples: p 63 could use some re-writing p 78 inconsistency in direct address p 87 referent in last paragraph p 88-90 had jargon and needed re-writing
An inference was made that President Obama is "divisive" figure on p.73. This is not the best way to characterize him, unless you also say that Congress is divisive too.... I did not like the inference there.. I found Paul Lynch's inclusion of Asian essays nice, in addition to his description of Montaigne. I found some of Savini's writing uneven, but I liked her inclusion of the picture of the woman from Nicaragua and her concern about how this might be perceived. Certainly more writers of color, topics relating to social justice, writers with disabilities who could present their own experience is much needed in this text. More welcoming could be extended to writers with diverse experience.
I have taught writing over a span of 30 years or so, and I can see how many of these individual offering might be useful. In its current condition, I would hesitate to use it. I think this text is one in a series. In the future, more care might be paid to creating a better contents page, an introduction on best applications, etc., even for seasoned instructors. There may be permission problems, and other supplementary material that might be helpful for instructors to know, for instance, the Annie Dillard essay was missing from Das Bender's essay, and so this made the points less effective. Some of the work, as I mentioned above, however, was well worth using.
Writing Spaces is a fairly comprehensive collection of essays covering a variety of topics germane to the topic of writing and writing development in higher ed. Individual contributions to the collection cover topics ranging from: utilizing... read more
Writing Spaces is a fairly comprehensive collection of essays covering a variety of topics germane to the topic of writing and writing development in higher ed. Individual contributions to the collection cover topics ranging from: utilizing sources, incorporating informal web-surfing habits and strategies into research skills, collaborating with other writers, document design and formatting, developing brainstorming techniques, and cultivating critical thinking skills, among others. As a collection, it does a good job of covering most of the bases when it comes to writing: invention, arrangement, style, delivery.
This category is not entirely applicable, since many of the essays herein offer reflective, opinion-based takes on the role of writing in higher education. Nonetheless, it contains a lot of practical advice based on current best practices in composition studies pedagogy. Nothing in this strikes me as collection strikes me as irresponsible or badly conceived in terms of offering advice and instruction to students.
It seems to me that there are two basic categories of essay here: 1) the “time-proof” essays that deal with durable rhetorical concepts (strategies for brainstorming, cultivating the critical thinking practice of antithesis, promoting collaboration); 2) the essays that deal with ways of utilizing technology (searching for sources, using collaboration-enabling software). The latter category strikes me as a problem for longevity, although the focus on skills and strategies rather than the particular software makes them more valuable.
Absolutely. The goal of this volume (as well as its companion volume) is to write for an audience of undergraduates. Consequently, the language is overwhelmingly clear and concise, but not patronizing or condescending. In some cases, the selections have elements of humor/snark that I find refreshing (Stedman, Walker), and I imagine that students would also find many of these voices compelling, as models for emulation as well as voices of authority. As a collection, it makes a compelling case to students about the importance of writing in general, as well as the need to improve, means and methods by which that improvement occurs, and practical advice for students to develop writing skills regardless of discipline.
The collection has a consistency of voice throughout and does a good job of reaching undergraduate audience as intended. Overall design/layout of text is professional and functional. Given the nature of the volume (a collection of variously authored essays), each writer is drawing upon different terminologies and field-specific backgrounds (e.g., classical rhetoric, digital media studies, ethnographic concentrations, etc.). This works, as the overall goal of the collection is ultimately to situate writing studies within the broader context of college-level education, so multiple viewpoints and voices helps reinforce this underlying message.
Highlight: the text, as well as volume 1, are explicitly designed as modular collection: obviously, the essays are stand-alone pieces on their own right (written by different authors on distinct topics, with no real cross-talk referencing the other essays), and users have the option of either downloading the entire volume as a single PDF or downloading individual chapters as needed to supplement curriculum. For example, if I were teaching a composition course that highlighted classical rhetorical approaches to writing, I might download Krause’s “On the Other Hand: The Role of Antithetical Writing in First Year Composition Courses,” Charleton’s “The Complexity of Simplicity: Invention Potentials for Writing Students,” and DasBender’s “Critical Thinking in College Writing: From the Personal to the Academic.” Alternatively, if I were teaching a technology-focused course, excerpts by McClure, Reid, and Barton and Klint would be more suitable.
This category isn’t exactly applicable, in that this resource is a collection of essays by different authors on distinct writing-specific topics. Still, one criticism that one might levy is that certain topics could be clustered--for example, the volume includes a couple of essays that deal with collaboration that might be sequenced more closely together; the same might be said of the technology-focused essays. This didn’t strike me as an immediately pressing problem, though, as the collection lends itself to modularity (i.e., chapters can be downloaded separately).
WC exists as a free PDF (or in print form at a price of XXX). Users have the option of downloading the entire volume as a single PDF (with hyperlinked TOC), or individual chapters. The latter option is particularly helpful for those instructors who might wish to incorporate selected excerpts into their own writing curriculum. PDFs travel well across a variety of devices and platforms, so that makes the collection potentially more accessible, although the file format does limit the “expressive regime” that the text might otherwise employ (e.g., animations and other multimedia content).
Few to none. (Looking over the entire collection *relatively* closely, I don’t recall noticing any.)
Certainly. Sensitivity with respect to identity politics is endemic to writing studies as a field--this collection reflects that sensitivity. In several instances in the collection, references to different ethnic and racial backgrounds are made in several spots throughout the volume. The majority of references point to racial/ethnic identity (i.e., no references to LGBQT, etc.).
Writing Spaces vol 2 is a valuable collection in its own right, but should be considered alonside the other WS products (vol. 1, the Web Writing Style Guide, and forthcoming volumes). Taken together, they offer a comprehensive body of work on cutting-edge writing studies pedagogy, as well as practical instruction for students writing in a variety of disciplinary contexts and media forms.
This textbook presents complex rhetorical concepts in a language students would likely find approachable. This approachability is very attractive to me as an instructor. I especially appreciated how the book's chapters are scaffolded, beginning... read more
This textbook presents complex rhetorical concepts in a language students would likely find approachable. This approachability is very attractive to me as an instructor. I especially appreciated how the book's chapters are scaffolded, beginning by asking students to think about "What is Academic Writing" (Ch. 2) and progressing to explore rhetorical analysis, audience awareness, the downfalls of treating argument as "war," making strategic use of Wikipedia, etc... Many of the chapters, besides offering students an accessible presentation of rhetorical concepts, also include suggested activities that would push students to develop procedural knowledge of the writing practices that work best for them (though I wish there were more of these activities). For example, chapter five pushes students to analyze rhetoric at work in the media by encouraging them to think, as Peter Elbow would have it, that argument is everywhere. As far as the index is concerned, I would imagine teachers could integrate indexed texts into their own lesson plans, and students would have a wide range of research options at the ready. That being said, I would like to have seen more attention paid to genres, perhaps another essay on that subject replacing one of the 'invention' chapters.
I found no issues with the book's accuracy, though I do wonder if, at times, the casual language might encourage inaccurate readings on the part of some students. I wonder if the strategic informality of this book's style might result in students adopting an informal approach to their composition classes and the work produced therein. This is not to say that the more casual style of this book is without merit (finding approachable material is a "must" in composition classes), only that I would like to see the book, at times, set higher expectations for the students who will read it. I usually found the book's language more problematic when it seemed unsupported by research - something I found to be problematic in chapter four, for example, where the argument about the inspired writer (vs. the real writer) is supported primarily by examples from the author's personal experience.
This book meets students where they are at in terms of students in today's world. If needed, individual chapters could be updated and/or replaced without affecting the organization of the book as a whole. There are a few instances where pop-cultural references will need to be updated, but I view this need as inevitable when finding concepts and examples to which students can relate.
The book's clarity is one of its strongest attributes. Terms are always defined. Students will no doubt find the book's language accessible - though I do think the book could be improved by including some essays that do more to challenge our students with more difficult readings. However, if teachers do wish to complement the book's content with more difficult reading material, many of the sources listed in the book's index would provide exactly that.
This book's terminology and framework are consistent. Ideas and concepts such as 'audience' are repeated in several chapters, a consistency that would push students to adapt their understanding of them to new contexts and arguments.
Modularity is not a problem with Writing Spaces. Chapters and even sections of chapters could be introduced at the instructor's discretion, depending on the scaffolding of lesson plans and student needs.
The topics in this book are ideally organized. Students are first familiarized with academic writing and the expectations associated with it and then progress to learn about - and practice - various stages of the writing process, from invention to self-reflection. I do wish the book included more questions at the end of chapters, as well as more procedural activities that push students to develop their own content/knowledge. To be clear, I do think the activities and questions already present in the book are helpful; but I would appreciate more focus on procedural activities and more extensive lists of questions.
I had no problems with the book's interface, and the option to download to scannable pdf files is a godsend (this would give students the ability to practice active reading techniques such as highlighting, underlining, marginal notes, etc.. electronically). I do wish hyperlinks within the text were "functional," as I had to copy and paste links to my browser in order to view them.
I found no grammar mistakes while reading Writing Spaces.
I did not find any examples of cultural insensitivity in the book. I would, however, like to see more content devoted to exploring how cultural insensitivities are maintained and even generated by the prestige often attached to "educated" forms of writing.
This text covers most of the topics that are important in a first-semester composition course. The principles of rhetoric that students need to understand and practice to write well in their college courses are presented with accessible... read more
This text covers most of the topics that are important in a first-semester composition course. The principles of rhetoric that students need to understand and practice to write well in their college courses are presented with accessible language. The authors of the articles define terms well and explain why the material is important to learn (in college and beyond). Topics covered include how to do an effective peer review (with a strong example), writing and working in a group, and identifying and writing in genres (with excellent examples). The three chapters on invention seemed a bit redundant, but I found myself wanting to see more material like the articles on writing in the first person and writing reflection and revision (again, with excellent examples provided). I also appreciated the article on using the Writing Center. The index is comprehensive, but this book includes no glossary (which would be a helpful addition). In the introduction to "Composing the Anthology: An Exercise in Patchwriting" the author suggests that he will discuss the risks associated with patchwriting, but we don't get that information in this article. I would like to have seen a following article about using proper attribution. Many native speakers do not understand the benefits of working with multilingual writers, so another helpful chapter would have covered writers whose second language is English working collaboratively (or in peer reviews) with writers whose primary language is English.
The articles within this book appear to be accurate and unbiased.
This book is a collection of articles, a format which allows it to be easily updated as needed; I don't see obsolescence as being an issue. Future editions can easily include articles that cover current technologies that are being developed. As written, the articles are up-to-date.
The accessible prose in the articles of this book make it most attractive to me as an instructor. Getting students to read what I've assigned can be challenging when prose is perceived to be turgid. In this book students will find only inviting and interesting articles with introductions that pull them into the text, often with an explanation as to WHY they should continue to read the article. At the end of each article, students will find discussion questions, but these articles are interesting enough that I envision a good deal of open discussion without need for these prompts. All jargon and potentially unfamiliar terminology is defined. The authors offer accessible examples to further explain concepts.
Many composition textbooks (and most instructors) may refer to the same concepts using different terms, and a few authors in this book used terms I don't usually use; however, I did not find this to be a problem in this book. These authors all define terms so well that I could use this perceived inconsistency as a way to discuss language's flexibility and the importance of defining terms for our readers.
Chapters (articles) within this book could easily be assigned in any order depending on the needs of the curriculum and the needs of the students.
The organization of the book as a whole makes perfect sense, and readings could be assigned in the order the articles are presented. Each article does have a natural flow into the next. However, the articles could also be assigned independently--in any order depending on students' needs.
I viewed this book in Preview, and the graphics were a little fuzzy. Those included were helpful to enhance students' understanding of the texts. Navigating the book from a .pdf file was clunky. Again, I was viewing in Preview which students could also be using. (Not everyone has access to Acrobat Pro.) If instructors assign the articles in the order they are published, students could simply bookmark the readings as they go. Otherwise, students must go to the Table of Contents, note the page number and add 15 (to account for the cover and all introductory front pages that are included in the preview's pages), then select Contact Sheet from the View drop down menu, scroll to find the article they are assigned (page number + 15) and double click on that. Perhaps this is easier in Acrobat Pro, but having hyperlinks from the Table of Contents directly to the articles would be helpful. Another work-around would be to have students access the chapters/articles directly from the Parlor Press website where the Table of Contents does include hyperlinks to the individual chapters.
The articles in this book are well revised and proofread. I noticed no grammatical errors.
I noticed nothing culturally insensitive or offensive. However, I would have liked to see an article specifically about writers and cultural sensitivity, especially when students are writing collaboratively or working through peer reviews.
For the Fall 2014 semester, I will ask my mentor group of eight new composition instructors to use the articles in Writing Spaces, Volume 1 as supplemental readings in their First-Year Composition courses. I expect this book to help them immensely by replacing lectures with interesting readings that can be discussed in class. The instructors may then focus more on creating interactive writing exercises and assignments that relate to these readings. / / In addition, I will assign some of the articles for my Advanced Composition students as review material.
The first thing I noticed about Writing Spaces was the comprehensive table of contents and the varied authors. I have been teaching a first-year writing course titled Writing and Rhetoric for almost a decade, and Lowe and Zemliansky have... read more
The first thing I noticed about Writing Spaces was the comprehensive table of contents and the varied authors. I have been teaching a first-year writing course titled Writing and Rhetoric for almost a decade, and Lowe and Zemliansky have included pieces on every aspect of writing I touch on in my own classes--everything from using the first person (Ch. 12: I Need You to Say "I": Why First Person is Important in College Writing by Kate McKinney Maddalena) to utilizing the University Writing and Rhetoric Center (Ch. 10: Why Visit Your Campus Writing Center? by Ben Rafoth), which I require, to collaborating digitally in groups, another requirement in my class (Ch. 16: Collaborating Online: Digital Strategies for Group Work by Anthony T. Atkins). One particular chapter (Ch. 4: The Inspired Writer vs. the Real Writer by Sarah Allen) would be a perfect fit for anyone who does a Writer's History kind of assignment.
I found the text to be accurate and error-free with no discernible bias.
The text seems both timeless in the chapters that discuss the writing process (that never really changes, does it?) and other more contemporary chapters, such as a terrific chapter on the usefulness of Wikipedia (Ch. 14: Wikipedia Is Good for You!? by James P. Purdy). The text feels well-organized and seems like it would be easy to update.
I think most first-year writing students would find the prose and voice of the chapters accessible, yet intelligent and insightful.
The chapters seem consistent.
The text covers a wide range of topics without too much overlap or redundancy.
The book seems well-organized.
I found no problems with the interface; the articles are mostly writing, and in fact, my only concern with the text is that it is so much text, with so little visual media. But in that way the chapters themselves may serve as models for the students for the kind of writing they do in their writing classes.
I found no grammatical errors.
The text didn't have anything offensive that I could find. However, I'm not sure the text provides much variety in terms of race, ethnicities and backgrounds.
This text would be a good supplement in a writing class.
The text covers many areas of challenges and questions that the first year college students might encounter in writing at higher education.The text is written in narrative essay style which makes easy to read, yet the contents are informative.... read more
The text covers many areas of challenges and questions that the first year college students might encounter in writing at higher education.The text is written in narrative essay style which makes easy to read, yet the contents are informative. This textbook provides 17 chapters written by 17 different respective writers, which bring many aspects of subjects in writing.
The text provides external link to clarify the accuracy of each term
The text is written in a way to update/modify the content easily and straightforward to implement. The table of content leads student to each chapter for brief description and allows students to downloads the full PDF file for the text.
The text provides external links for each academic terms for accuracy and clarity, which makes resourceful for online textbook,
The text is internally consistent in terms of framework in general
The text is easily divisible into each chapter for the link to download or to browse description of each chapter. However, it would have been better to make hyperlink on external sources or citations for advanced search.
The text is presented in a consistent flow
The text is mostly free of interface issues except for external sources.
The text is peer reviewed and presented in narrative style,yet no significant grammatical errors found.
The text doesn't necessary provides examples that are inclusive of cultural diversity.
Table of Contents
- Introduction: Open Source Composition Texts Arrive for College Writers by Robert E. Cummings
- What is Academic Writing by L. Lennie Irvin
- So You've Got a Writing Assignment. Now What? by Corrine E. Hinton
- The Inspired Writer vs. the Real Writer by Sarah Allen
- Backpacks vs. Briefcases: Steps Toward Rhetorical Analysis by Laura Bolin Carroll
- From Topic to Presentation: Making Choices to Develop Your Writing by Beth L. Hewett
- Taking Flight: Connecting Inner and Outer Realities during Invention by Susan E. Antlitz
- Reinventing Invention: Discovery and Investment in Writing by Michelle D. Trim and Megan Lynn Isaac
- "Finding Your Way In": Invention as Inquiry Based Learning in First Year Writing by Steven Lessner and Collin Craig
- Why Visit Your Campus Writing Center? by Ben Rafoth
- Finding the Good Argument OR Why Bother With Logic? by Rebecca Jones
- I Need You to Say “I”: Why First Person is Important in College Writing by Kate McKinney Maddalena
- Reflective Writing and the Revision Process: What Were You Thinking? by Sandra Giles
- Wikipedia Is Good for You!? by James P. Purdy
- Composing the Anthology: An Exercise in Patchwriting by Christopher Leary
- Collaborating Online: Digital Strategies for Group Work by Anthony T. Atkins
- Navigating Genres by Kerry Dirk
About the Book
Volumes in Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing offer multiple perspectives on a wide-range of topics about writing, much like the modelmade famous by Wendy Bishop's “The Subject Is . . .” series. In eachchapter, authors present their unique views, insights, and strategies forwriting by addressing the undergraduate reader directly. Drawing ontheir own experiences, these teachers-as-writers invite students to joinin the larger conversation about developing nearly every aspect of thecraft of writing. Consequently, each essay functions as a standalonetext that can easily complement other selected readings in writing orwriting-intensive courses across the disciplines at any level.
Topics in Volume 1 of the series include academic writing, how to interpret writing assignments, motives for writing, rhetorical analysis, revision, invention, writing centers, argumentation, narrative, reflective writing, Wikipedia, patchwriting, collaboration, and genres.
About the Contributors
Dr. Charlie Lowe is an assistant professor in the Department of Writing at Grand Valley State University where he teaches first year composition, professional writing, and web design, and he is a strong advocate of open source software adoption and open access publishing.
Dr. Pavel Zemliansky is an associate professor and graduate coordinator in the School of Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication at James Madison University where he teaches courses in composition, rhetoric, and professional communication.