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USM English Professor's New Book Highlights Perspectives on Teaching Writing

Thu, 03/23/2023 - 09:06am | By: Ivonne Kawas

Dr. Shane Wood, assistant professor and director of composition at The University of Southern MississippiDr. Shane Wood, assistant professor and director of composition at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM), has published a book titled, “Teachers Talking Writing: Perspectives on Places, Pedagogies, and Programs.” “Teachers Talking Writing” (TTW) is a collection of conversations on writing practices and pedagogies in postsecondary contexts in the 21st century. 

Dr. Wood invites readers and listeners to engage in multimodal learning by navigating back and forth between text and audio, as his book highlights perspectives from teacher-scholars who have contributed to his highly successful podcast “Pedagogue,” which has won two national awards in writing studies.  

Teachers Talking Writing“TTW provides curated conversations with teachers who have contributed to the podcast,” explains Dr. Wood. “The original interviews on Pedagogue offer further insight on contributors’ teaching and research. I see Pedagogue as a monologue and TTW as the full script for a play. Pedagogue focuses on individual actors; each episode is a center stage spotlight on teacher-scholars talking about their teaching and institutional context. TTW, on the other hand, is interwoven scenes that comprise a full production and collaborative performance that consists of a much larger plot.”

Dr. Wood mentions that “conversation is a meaning-making, community-building activity.” He explains how much he learned about teaching writing in graduate school from colleagues. 

“Having a conversation with another teacher brings to life scholarship and makes more tangible our work in the writing classroom,” said Dr. Wood. “As a grad student, I learned a lot about teaching composition through conversations in hallways and offices talking with peers or sitting around chatting about classroom practices before and after grad seminars. I would argue some of my most beneficial learning experiences happened outside conventional academic structures.”

The book consists of 52 perspectives and 14 chapters that are grouped into 3 sections:

  • The first section of the book—Places—provides teachers an understanding of where teaching writing happens in postsecondary contexts, such as two-year colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Hispanic-Serving Institutions. 
  • The second section—Pedagogies—offers teachers key insights on different approaches to teaching composition, including frameworks from multimodality, disability studies, and community literacies. 
  • The last section—Programs—offers insight on different writing programs, including basic writing, second language writing, and writing centers.

Reimagining the Traditional Anthology

What makes anthologies appealing are the overviews and insights they provide teachers who want to better understand approaches to teaching; however, Dr. Wood’s book diverges from traditional constructions of rhetoric and composition anthologies. 

Here are 5 ways in which it is reimagining the traditional anthology:

  • Instead of relying on alphabetic text, his book integrates multimodality and invites readers to listen to the embodied voices of its contributors. 
  • Rather than formal academic biographies, his collection has personal narratives of contributors.
  • Instead of offering perspectives primarily from R1 universities, his book represents a range of institutional contexts and programs that are often underrepresented, such as two-year colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Hispanic-Serving Institutions. 
  • Rather than put pressure on one voice to capture a pedagogical issue of the entire field, each chapter in his book includes at least four voices and perspectives.
  • In place of a concise conclusion at the end of each chapter, his book offers questions to encourage deeper reflection and conversation.

About Dr. Wood

Dr. Wood teaches first-year writing, digital literacies, technical writing, and a graduate practicum in composition theory at USM. He received his BA in English from Western Kentucky University, MA in composition theory from Fresno State, and PhD in rhetoric and composition from the University of Kansas. His research interests include writing assessment, teacher response, and multimodal pedagogy. His work has appeared in journals such as the Journal of Writing Assessment, WPA: Writing Program Administration, Composition Forum, and Reflections.

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