WR 511 Project Proposal (including bibliography and 2 preces)

October 24, 2007
Major Project Proposal

I have chosen to research and discuss the use of personal or expressive writing assignments in college first-year and basic writing courses. I plan to write for teachers of first-year and basic writing.

The debate as to the role of personal/expressive writing in a composition classroom probably began in the 1970s with Elbow’s influential book Writing Without Teachers in which he argued that being a writer should come before becoming an academic (a point which he expanded upon in his 1993 article “Being a Writer Versus Being an Academic: A Conflict in Goals”). Elbow’s pedagogy has been enormously popular but not without detractors. In 1995, David Bartholomae began his defense of academic writing in his “Writing With Teachers: A Conversation with Peter Elbow” in which he argued that there can be no such thing as a writing space without teachers and other writers past and present.

The debate continues today. It will probably continue indefinitely because it seems to point to some of the inherent differences in expressivism and social constructionism: the former emphasizing the individual, the latter the group or society.

I have found plenty of scholars arguing for and discussing the advantages of personal/expressive writing in the college classroom. I have found fewer who are opposed to it (other than David Bartholomae, of course). In addition, some tie it to issues of patriarchy and capitalism; others show evidence of its psychological benefits.

My research will focus on the following questions:
1. What is personal/expressive writing? How is it defined in the context of first-year and basic college composition?

2. Does personal/expressive writing have a significant impact on a student’s sense of self? And what role does a sense of self play in the development of advanced literary?

3. What educational advantages, if any, are there to including personal/expressive writing in the first-year curriculum? Are those advantages significant enough to warrant making it part of the curriculum?
4. And, if so, what kind of personal/expressive writing assignments would best bring out those advantages? Personal narrative? Journaling? An assignment mixing personal experience with literary or rhetorical analysis?

I am using the following keywords to research these questions: personal, expressive, expressivistic, expressivism, essay, narrative, journal, writing, assignment, college, freshman, composition, and teaching.

Proposed Bibliography on

The Role of Personal Writing in First-Year and Basic Composition Courses

Bartholomae, David, and Anthony Petrosky. Facts, Artifacts, and Counterfacts: Theory and Method for a Reading and Writing Course. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook, 1986.

Bartholomae, David, and Peter Elbow. “Interchanges: Responses to Bartholomae and Elbow.” Cross-Talk in Comp Theory: A Reader. Ed. Victor Villanueva. Urabana, Ill.: NCTE, 1997. 501-509.

Bartholomae, David. “Writing with Teachers: A Conversation with Peter Elbow.” Cross-Talk in Comp Theory: A Reader. Ed. Victor Villanueva. Urabana, Ill.: NCTE, 1997. 479-488.

David Bartholomae, in his article “Writing with Teachers: A Conversation with Peter Elbow” (1995), argues that Peter Elbow and expressivists like him are trying to hold to the idea of the writer as an independent entity when instead the writer is never alone or without the context of other writers. Bartholomae looks at “academic writing” as a term and at the academy as a place where writing happens and argues that academic writing is the principle work of the academy, before discussing his reasons for doubting the views of expressivists like Peter Elbow. His purpose is contribute his view to the on-going debate regarding personal versus academic writing in the classroom. He maintains a collegial relationship with his audience of fellow compositionists interested or involved in this debate.

Berlin, James A. “Contemporary Composition: The Major Pedagogical Theories.” Cross-Talk in Comp Theory: A Reader. Ed. Victor Villanueva. Urabana, Ill.: NCTE, 1997. 233-248.

Bishop, Wendy, and Hans Ostrom. Genre and Writing: Issues, Arguments, Alternatives. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook, 1997.

Britton, James. “The Composing Processes and the Functions of Writing.” Research on Composing: Points of Departure. Ed. Charles Cooper and Lee Odell. Urbana, Ill: NCTE, 1978. __-__.

Britton, James, et al. The Development of Writing Abilities (11-18). London: Macmillan Education, 1975.

Cassity, Kathleen J. “Bringing lived cultures and experience to the WAC classroom: A qualitative study of selected nontraditional community college students writing across the curriculum.” Diss. U of Hawaii, 2005.

Coles, William E. The Plural I – and After. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook, 1988.

Conners, Robert J. “Personal Writing Assignments.” College Composition and Communication 38 (1987): 166-183.

Connors, Patricia E. “Making Private Writing Public: Teaching Expressive Writing in the Composition Class.” Teaching English in the Two-Year College 15.1 (1988): 25-27.

Dickson, Marcia. It’s Not Like that Here: Teaching Academic Writing and Reading to Novice Writers. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann-Boynton/Cook, 1995.

Doyle, Anne E. “Dishing the Personal Narrative: Its Present Classroom Ignominy, Its Classroom Potential.” Bridgewater Review. 21 Dec 2000. <http://www.bridgew.edu/newsevnt/BridRev/Archives/99Jun/dishnar.htm&gt;

Elbow, Peter. “Reflections on Academic Discourse: How It Relates to Freshman and Colleagues.” College English 51 (1991): 135-55.

Elbow, Peter. “Being a Writer vs Being an Academic: A Conflict in Goals.” Cross-Talk in Comp Theory: A Reader. Ed. Victor Villanueva. Urabana, Ill.: NCTE, 1997. 489-500.

Elbow, Peter. Writing Without Teachers. New York: Oxford UP, 1973.

—. Writing with Power. New York: Oxford UP, 1981.

Gere, Anne Ruggles. “Revealing Silence: Rethinking Personal Writing.” College Composition and Communication 53.2 (2001): 203-223.

Green, Susanne Elizabeth. “Teacher and student identity: Pedagogy and reiteration in first-year writing.” Diss. New Mexico State U, 2004.

Haefner, Joel. “Democracy, Pedagogy, and the Personal Essay.” Cross-Talk in Comp Theory: A Reader. Ed. Victor Villanueva. Urabana, Ill.: NCTE, 1997. 511-523.

Harris, Jeanette. Expressive Discourse. Dallas: Southern Methodist UP, 1990.

Higgins, Lorraine D., and Lisa D. Brush. “Personal Experience Narrative and Public Debate: Writing the Wrongs of Welfare.” College Composition and Communication 57.4 (2006): 694-729.

Jakobson, Roman. “Concluding Statement: Linguistics and Poetics.” Style in Language. Ed. Thomas A. Sebeok. Cambridge, MA: MIT P, 1960. 350-78.

Kinneavy, James E. “The Basic Aims of Discourse.” Cross-Talk in Comp Theory: A Reader. Ed. Victor Villanueva. Urabana, Ill.: NCTE, 1997. 107-117.

Kolosseus, Beverly A. “Toward a New Rhetoric: A Synthesis of Expressivism and Social-Epistemicism (Romanticism, Expressive Rhetoric).” Diss. New Mexico State U, 1997.

Lyons, Gregory Thomas. “Theoretical Origins of Contemporary Expressive Writing Pedagogies in Classical Rhetoric, Romantic Poetry, and Humanist Therapy.” Diss. U of Texas Austin, 1988.

Macrorie, Ken. Telling Writing. Rochelle Park, N.J.: Hayden, 1970.

Matalene, Carolyn. “Experience as Evidence: Teaching Students to Write Honestly and Knowledgeably about Public Issues.” A Writing Teacher’s Sourcebook. 4th ed. Eds. Edward P.J. Corbett, Nancy Myers, and Gary Tate. New York: Oxford UP, 2000. 180-190.

Carolyn Matalene, in her essay “Experience as Evidence: Teaching Students to Write Honestly and Knowledgeably about Public Issues” (2000), argues that teachers must get over their discomfort with personal writing and empower students to move from reflective personal writing to personal writing about public issues. Matalene discusses the importance of writing from experience before analyzing student writing samples to support her thesis. Her purpose is to help teachers understand the value of starting with personal writing to help students better engage in public discourse. Matalene writes to college writing teachers, using a collegial and helpful tone.

McGovern, Arthur Richard. “The influence of mental stimulation in an expressive writing context on academic performance and the moderating influence of self-efficacy, optimism, and gender.” Diss. Oklahoma State U, 2004.

Milloy, Jana. “Incarnate Words: Phenomenology of writing the self.” Diss. Simon Fraser U, 2004.

Mlynarczyk, Rebecca Williams. “Personal and Academic Writing: Revisiting the Debate.” Journal of Basic Writing 25:1 (2006): 4-25.

Moffett, James. Teaching the Universe of Discourse. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1968.

Newkirk, Thomas. “The Dogma of Transformation.” College Composition and Communication. 56.2 (2004): 251-271.

Papoulis, Irene. “’Personal Narrative,’’Academic Writing,’ and Feminist Theory: Reflections of a Freshman Composition Teacher.” Freshman English News 18.2 (1990): 9-12.

Paranto, Michelle Lynne. “Writing and transformation in college composition.” Diss. U of Massachusetts Amherst, 2005.

Park, Jeffrey James. “Writing at the edge: Rethinking process theory.” Diss. U of Saskatchewan, 2002.

“Personal Writing.” NWP.org. 2007. The National Writing Project. <http://www.nwp.org/cs/public/print/resource_topic/personal_writing&gt;

Piccione, Rachel Astarte. “Losing Your Voice: Teaching Freshman Composition Students to Write What They Know (and Know What They Write).” English Record 52.1 (2001): 12-28.

Spear, Karen. “Controversy and Consensus in Freshman Writing: An Overview of the Field.” The Review of Higher Education 20.3 (1997): 319-344. Project Muse. Oregon State University Library. 22 Oct. 2007 <http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/review_of_higher_education/v020/20.3spear.html&gt;

Spellmeyer, Kurt. “A Common Ground: The Essay in the Academy.” College English 51 (March 1989): 262-76.

Stotsky, Sandra. “The Uses and Limitations of Personal or Personalized Writing in Writing Theory, Research, and Instruction.” Reading Research Quarterly 30.4 (1995): 758-776.

Solberg, Roger Lee. “’A permanent act of discovery’: Montaigne, Freire, and the socially-constructed essayist.” Diss. Indiana U of Pennsylvania, 1999.

Tartar Esch, Stacy. “Expressive Writing.” Brainstorm-Services.com. 2005. <http://brainstorm-services.com/wcu-2004/expressive-writing.html&gt;

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3 thoughts on “WR 511 Project Proposal (including bibliography and 2 preces)

  1. That’s a whole lot of bibliography.

    So is expressive/personal writing like the kind of essays students write in Dodie and Sandy’s learning community, Drama in Relationships? Only one paper was purely personal, but all of them invited us to draw on personal experiences and relationships.

    You should be less busy so we can chat more! :)

  2. Yep, any assignment that asks students to draw on personal experience or reactions is “personal writing” or includes personal writing. Here at OSU, the first assignment in the first-year writing class (WR 121) is hybrid academic/personal. The hybrid assignments seems pretty common — at least in composition and lit classes. How’d you like the assignments for the drama in relationships class? How did the personal aspect feel? (ooh, asking for a personal response about a personal response assignment!)

    That is a whole lot of bibliography, isn’t it. :-) And I even have more to add to it — though many of the original items, I’ve discovered, don’t apply close enough to my topic, so they’ll be dropped.

    I might be able to chat tomorrow afternoon (my day off from the writing center) — that is, if I’m not napping from staying up all night tonight writing this lit review. :-(

    YOU should be here in Corvallis keeping me company while I do this research! Then we could chat much more! You like OSU better than UW anyway, I know you do. Come on down! ;-)

  3. Well, maybe I will be going to OSU but by the time I get there you’ll probably be gone. We’re not very good at timing.

    It’s a little hard to remember how I liked the assignments, because that was the first class I took at YVCC and I didn’t keep my papers, unless they’re hidden away somewhere. I was using a different computer then, so…

    I remember feeling pretty put off by writing the first paper. I can’t remember the assignment exactly, but it was purely personal. I think it was to write about the most, or one of the most, influential relationships in your life. There were some guidelines, like, they suggested not writing about something tragic (since relationships that involve tragedies often can have whole books written about them). Anyway, I was just sort of getting out of this relationship with this guy and wanted to write about that because I had come to my own personal conclusion that he is a sociopath. At the time I didn’t really want to write about it, though, because it was still pretty painful and I didn’t really want to open it up to other people yet. It was really the only thing that I could think of to write about, though. It kept coming back when I tried to think of other relationships. I thought about writing about my mom, but that seemed like one of those things that could be a whole book.

    So, at first I was resistant. After I finished the paper I felt better, though, and I got the best grade on that paper out of the whole quarter. I think I purposely destroyed that one. It was sort of like, “okay, I’ve got it out now and don’t want to see it again.” I wish I still had it now. I might sort of cringe at it, but who knows.

    The other paper I remember the most was about The Laramie Project. We were supposed to draw on personal experience. I remember writing about my friend Pedro and some of the experiences I’d had seeing him discriminated against based on his orientation. It wasn’t purely personal, though. Again, I don’t remember the assignment very well. :) Maybe I have that stuff around somewhere, I should look.

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