even more for religion in the writing classroom bibliography

I’m baaaack!

Anderson, Chris. Teaching as Believing: Faith in the University. Baylor UP, 2004. Ordered via Amazon, early April ’08.


ABSTRACT. This study examines a first year writing course that operated under a social-epistemic rhetoric and prominently used readings, such as from Michel Foucault, Susan Willis, John Fiske, and Jane Tompkins, that are often described as containing leftist political values. Student responses to the in-class proceedings, assignments, interviews, and a questionnaire were analyzed to determine whether the use of these types of essays had any significant effect on the students’ development as writers, their attitudes towards the course, and their political allegiances.

The semester long participation by the researcher in the course revealed that the students were responding in a positive manner to the course, even when they disagreed with or disliked the authors’ political views or the instructor’s presentation of those views. The course was handled in a manner consistent with contemporary composition theory, and the students participated actively, worked well in peer groups, and generally voiced approval of their experiences in the classroom.

An analysis of the interviews, the questionnaire, and the students’ revisions suggested the following effects: (1) The political issues being raised promoted re-reading of the texts; (2) Students were not writing insincere opinions to satisfy what they perceived to be the instructor’s perspective; (3) The difficulty in understanding some of the texts’ political notions led students to collaborate effectively; (4) The students’ confidence-level increased and they saw improvement in themselves as writers; and (5) The students developed effective writing processes.

Additionally, this analysis demonstrated that reading and writing about this type of material influenced student decisions and beliefs after the course concluded, although no student entirely shifted his or her political allegiance. The data also speaks to the influence of religion as a point of resistance for students grappling with issues such as individualism and morality. (emphasis mine).

This study indicates that leftist political reading material can be used effectively and ethically in a first-year writing course.

Wagner, Joseph B. “Faith in the composition class: A Pragmatic approach to common ground.” 2007 Diss. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. DAI, 68, no. 04A (2007): p. 1446. Requested through ILL 4-10-08. Transaction Number 297672.

ABSTRACT: In recent years, composition classes in universities across the country have focused more and more on social and political issues like race, class, and gender. At its base, this dissertation argues that prophetic religious belief should receive such a focus as well. This project also attempts to recognize the difficulties that might arise when addressing religion in the writing class and subsequently draws upon the thinking of the American Pragmatists to meet those difficulties. From this Pragmatic foundation, I explore notions of mediation, experience, habit, and certainty in the hopes of providing some orientation to a topic that is as important to our students as any other we ask them to consider.

My theoretical grounding is set out with an eye towards practical application in the classroom (as theory is little without practice, and practice little without theory). I address possible writing assignments, particular texts, and the use of current events in relation to the Pragmatic approach I describe. In sum, this dissertation is an attempt to help all of us—atheists and theists, students and teachers—broach the topic of religion in the composition class.


2 thoughts on “even more for religion in the writing classroom bibliography

  1. Hey, good to see you again! Well, I’m using Huston Smith’s “The Illustrated World’s Religions” in 101. It’s going well so far. They’re working on their first paper. I’m surprised at how much interest it’s generated, though I know they find the reading challenging. My comparative philosophy friend is going to come in as a guest lecturer in a couple of weeks, and when I asked the students if they’d like that, there was near unanimous agreement (on anonymous two-minute assessment papers at the end of class), and also excitement at the prospect. As suggested above, my classroom is still a process classroom, and students have begun by writing a paper about their own stance (I’ve divided possible stances up into five rough categories), and what in their background shaped those stances. They’re not supposed to persuade their audience that their own religious or spiritual stance is “the best,” but just to reflect on how they came about it. Looking at drafts, I’m seeing some interesting papers. I’m liking it!

  2. Hi, Shannon! Thanks for the comment! I would love to do a whole course on a book like Smith’s. I’m jealous. Oh, and I think that’s an excellent way to do it — having them not persuade but reflect. Makes me think that the most controversial issues (social, political, religious) are the very ones that ought NOT to be allowed in argument classes. But then again, that can work well, too, of course…

    Anyway! I’ll love to hear how it goes in your class this quarter.

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