Conditions of Use
It might be impossible for a book about WAC/WID to be truly “comprehensive.” After all, the editors cannot possibly share writings and reflections from all disciplines. However, the range of disciplines presented in four sections here (Nursing,... read more
It might be impossible for a book about WAC/WID to be truly “comprehensive.” After all, the editors cannot possibly share writings and reflections from all disciplines. However, the range of disciplines presented in four sections here (Nursing, STEM and Health Sciences, Writing and Education, History and Culture) gives us a strong sampling of the epistemological, methodological, and rhetorical similarities and differences among writers in fields representing the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Faculty reading this book could be inspired to create their own collections of samples from within their own disciplines.
Tying the 28 works together in this collection are the reflections included by the authors—students, instructors, published authors—of each sample. The reflections bring to life the title and purpose of the book and, by extension, provide a “comprehensive” look at WAC and WID. For instance, a student reflecting on writing an essay about a novel shares a personal connection to the main character but also describes the process of library research to enhance her claims and her own knowledge. In a reflection on a published scientific study, another author reflects on the role of audience awareness in making some decisions and considers the influence of his own teaching experiences on his writing style.
Of course, the range of disciplines here requires that a range of style manuals will also make appearances. Readings that focused on literature, of course, use MLA documentation. Other readings use APA or CMS as appropriate. While students (and, admittedly, a lot of faculty) find the many style guides a frustrating part of a writer’s work, it is a reality that disciplines have adopted these different styles. I appreciate that they are visible here. Most first-year writing classes teach MLA, but how can writing instructors introduce (or, at least, acknowledge) this range of styles? A mere introduction is not enough, of course, as it is incumbent upon those in other disciplines to teach the style expected in their disciplines as a part of the rhetoric, format, and language that form the conventions of their fields. This book contains exemplars in that regard.
I don’t see an Index or Glossary.
I appreciate the range of content in a book like this. Here, we see 28 sample texts from writers in several disciplines plus a sustained examination of the writing process via reflections from the writers themselves. We can trust, I think, the accuracy of sample texts published in peer reviewed journals or assessed by instructors of these students’ courses. In the end, however, the greatest strength of this book comes from these writers’ reflections on their own writing processes, so “accuracy” is not the big question. In these reflections, writers usually shared their starting points, next steps, obstacles, [many!] emotions, research, thinking, and other elements in the process of producing the sample texts shared in this book. Each one, of course, is different and reflects the individuality we see among writers, but we see common threads emerge, too.
This collection can easily be updated or supplemented over time. The excerpts from published articles seem to be recent and even as current as this year (2023!), but it is difficult to tell when the student samples were written. I don’t find this to be a significant weakness, but it would be nice to see the dates included in each sample text, whether a publication date or the semester/year of a student assignment.
That said, the true relevance of the texts in this collection is tied to reflections on the writing process, and readers would be hard-pressed to consider the individuals who not only contributed sample texts, but also wrote reflections on their writing process(es) as “outdated” somehow. It might be interesting to be in contact with the same authors, say, 5-10 years from now, to track how their writing processes change over time or against the demands of a new text, etc. But this text will remain relevant for quite some time.
The introductory segments are very inviting to readers and are written in casual, accessible prose. The two most important introductions frame the purpose and structure of the remaining sections of the book. First, Christopher Iverson helps readers understand the differences (and similarities) between Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) and Writing in the Disciplines (WID) by borrowing definitions provided by the WAC Clearinghouse at Colorado State (a favorite resource of mine, too). WAC is meant to support student learning in all disciplines and encourages faculty to “use writing more deliberately and more often” (WAC Clearinghouse). In contrast, WID involves challenging students to learn the genres and conventions of a specific discipline or profession. On my own campus, I have worked with Paralegal students writing legal briefs, for example, and psychology students writing an IRB Protocol.
A second introductory segment, “Writers on Writing” by John Nader, sets the reflective tone of the remaining work and supports the focus on PROCESSES. Nader, with those inviting pronouns of “you” and “us,” describes his writing process and the connections between writing and thinking, between readers and writers. He ends the piece with a playful joke about getting lost in thought while writing this very piece, causing him to be late to a meeting. (My own train of thought while writing this review has been repeatedly interrupted by a needy dog!)
When it comes to jargon/terminology in the remaining text, we should actually expect to see jargon and discipline-specific terminology that we won’t understand. This is a part of the point. As I read a published essay on the reproductive processes of fungi, for example, I had no idea what “the fusion of two compatible haploid nuclei to form a diploid zygote and its subsequent division by meiosis” (Adair) means, but that’s OK. When we write within our disciplines, especially when publishing that writing, we should assume our readers know the jargon and should not need “dictionary definitions” of field-specific terms. As we help our students transition from “student writing” to “scholarly/professional writing,” especially in audience awareness, the student habits of defining all of our terms must be left behind. So, yes, readers will encounter jargon/terminology they might not understand, but we are invited to discuss what that means, why it happens, and that it’s OK.
The text offers samples from a range of disciplines, and those disciplines present their own conventions, terminology, and topics. Such is the nature of a collection of works. Reflections on the writing process, provided with each piece, will tie the works together and provide a solid, consistent framework, maintaining the WAC/WID focus of the book and enhancing its purpose to explore PROCESSES.
Each text is short and is supplemented by a reflection from the author of that text. Texts come from a range of students, faculty, and published authors. In some cases of longer published articles, a shorter excerpt was provided instead of the whole text. The Table of Contents lists each text clearly, and clicking on any specific link will bring readers directly to the text they would like to see.
If an instructor assigned readings in a classroom, we could easily “pick and choose” from among the readings presented here if desired. I’m not sure I would use the whole book in a class. In fact, I see great value of this book for faculty wanting to understand WAC/WID and wanting to enhance student learning by incorporating more writing into their classrooms. If I had an opportunity to teach a workshop for faculty, I would share this book as a discussion-starter and as a range of good examples to consider for classroom use.
Readers can easily navigate this well-organized book. After introductory remarks exploring how and why we write, explaining the purpose and impetus of the book, and distinguishing between WAC and WID, the four main sections clearly identify the sample disciplines the editors include: Nursing, STEM and Health Science, Writing and Education, and History and Culture. Individual readings can be selected directly from the Table of Contents. Readers can easily focus on a few chosen samples or a particular section (or the entire book) as they wish. Individual titles make clear the type of sample text readers will see: reflections on the writing process, experiments or research in a particular field, discussions on pedagogy. While the whole book provides valuable contributions, it is also the kind of book readers can “read around in” and explore the sections most relevant or interesting to them.
I saw no interface issues. Some readings include images or charts, but I found them to be readable and clear without distortion. For articles that included a writer’s reflection, the original text and the reflection are clearly identifiable and are kept together in the same link.
I did not see any grammatical errors. Readers will notice, however, that the range of sample texts come from students, faculty, and published authors. This range results in varied levels of sophistication, but this is one of the strong features of the book. Because each sample text is accompanied by a reflection, it’s interesting to note the differences in formality and voice between the “formal” text sample and the same writer’s reflection. After all, genre can influence such things.
I did not identify anything that would be overtly insensitive or offensive. It’s unclear how inclusive the text is regarding race, ethnicity, backgrounds, etc., as identities of authors are not always clear, and topics range from scientific study to literature. Surely, the authors represent a range of disciplines, and some texts explore topics that could be in support of diversity issues, such as an essay on a novel by Mexican-American author Sandra Cisneros and an op-ed piece about re-gendered words. Inclusivity and diversity can be discussed in many ways after reading these sample texts, however. For instance, as I read a brief excerpt about the history of accounting regulations in the U.S., I began wishing that the authors would acknowledge that the developments they mention from the late 1700’s, through the 1800’s, occurred in a time of slavery, or that the development of railroads relied in part on mistreated Chinese laborers. I accept, however, that the focus of the authors was to explain the development of accounting regulations, but inviting students to explore “what’s missing?” can prompt fantastic discussions and research about how truncated presentations of any field can lead to exclusion and, by extension, histories that overlook inequality of many kinds, unfair labor practices, and the political power of the elite.
I have recommended to a colleague that we use this text to design a WAC/WID workshop for faculty on our campus. We do not have a formal WAC program and hope to start one.
Table of Contents
- Homage to Dr. Marcia Littenberg, former Chair, FSC WID
- Writers on Writing
- Messages from the Nursing Department
- Utilizing a Writing in the Disciplines (WID) Course to Teach Nursing Students about Their Profession
- The Importance of Correct Perspective of the Nursing Profession
- How Nursing Taught Me to Write Scholarly
- My Education in Writing as a Nurse
- Messages from STEM and Health Science Scholars
- Sexual and Asexual Reproductive Stages of Fungi
- Medical Maladies and Existential Healing
- Who Runs Boston? A Descriptive Report of Performance-Related Characteristics of Boston Marathon Qualifiers
- Writing in Science: Creating a Lab Write-Up
- It’s a Marsh Mallow World in the Summer
- Discourse Analysis: The Impact of the Unspoken Word
- Messages from Writers on Writing and Education
- Former Beat Writer Reflects
- The Process of Writing as a Spontaneous Act of Storytelling: From the Classroom to a Published Essay
- “The Generation and Uses of Chaos”: Rhetorical Invention as the Taming of a Wild Garden
- Collaborative Composing: Demystifying the Literature Review and the Writing Process, Together
- On Writing Philosophy
- Learning Outcomes
- Staying Engaged while Staying Home
- The Art of Editorial Conversation
- A Pedagogical Template for Preparing Undergraduate Student Scientific Laboratory Reports and First Submissions to Academic Journals
- Messages from Scholars about History and Culture
- The Messengers of War
- The Beauty of Spirited Writing
- The Art of Being Green: Mimesis and the Environment in Book II of The Faerie Queene
- Una Vida Aislada: The Theme of Isolation in The House on Mango Street
- The Advantages of Quick Writing Bursts
- Another Possible Source of Hawthorne’s Hester Prynne
- A Brief Survey of US Accounting
- Writing in Criminal Justice: The Process
Ancillary MaterialSubmit ancillary resource
About the Book
Processes: Writing Across Academic Careers is an edited collection featuring writing from students, faculty, and staff at Farmingdale State College, a State University of New York (SUNY) campus on Long Island. Each contributor reflects on their own writing as well as writing in their fields/disciplines. Namely, they reflect on their writing processes, hence the name of the book.
The FSC Writing in the Disciplines committee curated excerpts of published or unpublished work from faculty, students, and administrators across departments and offices. The result is Processes: Writing Across Academic Careers, a collection of writing samples and reflections on the processes that made those pieces of writing possible. This book shows that, while writing looks and functions differently in different disciplines, college communities center on writing. From the college president to the faculty to the students, each member of the community grapples with writing, even in disciplines not considered to be writing-intensive.
The text features compositions from nursing, STEM and health sciences, education, and history and culture. The examples span from reflections on the role of writing in one’s academic career, examples of professional writing in the sciences, research papers, conference proposals, to laboratory reports. The examples of published or works-in-progress are accompanied by thoughtful reflections on how the author crafted their work.
The collection presents an opportunity for scholars to acknowledge the centrality of writing in their everyday work. Students learning how to write in college and about writing conventions in their specific disciplines will gain an overview of writing they will encounter in their academic career and an appreciation for the multitudes of ways writers work.
Perfect for introductory writing courses, and useful modularly for any class that touches on writing or information literacy, this text is a unique, honest, and practical resource for any undergraduate.
About the Contributors
Christopher Iverson serves as Assistant Professor of English and Humanities at Farmingdale State College (SUNY) and chair of the FSC Writing in the Disciplines’ Publishing Subcommittee. His research centers on service-learning, Writing in the Disciplines/Writing Across the Curriculum, technical/professional writing, and open scholarship. Ultimately, Chris’ research handles writing as a community—as opposed to individual—act, meant for diverse audiences but also created through collaboration and compromise. Chris earned his PhD in Writing and Rhetoric from the University of Connecticut, and while doing so, taught at flagship state schools, community colleges, and polytechnic institutes. This experience informed his interdisciplinary approach to writing and his fascination with writing as a means to individually express as well as collaboratively communicate. Contact Christopher at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dan Ehrenfeld serves as Assistant Professor of English and Humanities at Farmingdale State College (SUNY). He earned his MA in secondary education from Loyola Marymount University, where he specialized in culturally responsive pedagogy and academic instruction for English language learners. He earned his PhD in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he specialized in Rhetoric and Composition. His areas of interest include digital rhetoric, writing in the public sphere, rhetorical circulation, persuasion, and writing pedagogy. Currently, he is working on a book investigating the persuasion practices that characterize political discourse on the social web. Contact Dan at email@example.com.