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BWe Special Issue:

Basic Writing, Community Engagement, and Interdisciplinarity

Issue 13.1


Thomas Peele, Guest Editor

Barbara Gleason, BWe Editor

Lynn Reid, Associate Editor, Production


Introduction:Basic Writing, Community Engagement, and Interdisciplinarity

Thomas Peele


Basic Writing Through the Back Door: Community-Engaged Courses in the Rush-to-Credit Age

Cori Brewster


This essay describes a linked, community-engaged writing course, “Field Writing: Food Stories,” which was offered as part of an early college program for rural high school students at a regional public university. While demonstrating many of the benefits commonly attributed to public writing and service learning in composition, the course raised important questions about the politics of access and acceleration, and about the role of community-engaged coursework in continuing to protect room in the curriculum for both high school and college writers.

A Service-Learning and Transfer-Oriented
Approach to Teaching Developmental Reading and Writing Students

Jeremy Branstad


In this essay, Branstad discusses how he used service-learning informed by the scholarship on transfer to reimagine current-traditional assumptions common in composition and to create rhetorically-oriented pathways for student success. The evidence of student learning demonstrates the value of implementing service-learning techniques informed by the theory on transfer within the basic writing classroom.

Story-Changing Work and Asymmetrical Power Relationships in a Writing Center Partnership

Ann Shivers-McNair and Joyce Olewski Inman


Shivers-McNair and Inman analyze and reflect upon the dissolution of a partnership between their institution's basic writing program and writing center. In their network reading of the partnership, the authors argue that their efforts to combat institutional discourses about students and faculty in two marginalized programs were complicated by asymmetrical relations of power. The authors conclude with reflections on possibilities for partnerships and collaborations between marginalized programs.

From Obscurity to Valuable Contributor: A Case for Critical Service-Learning

Marisa Berman, Julia Carroll, and Jennifer Maloy


This essay argues the benefits of a critical service-learning project in which English Language Learners and developmental writing students documented the stories of Holocaust survivors for a campus-based resource center at a two-year college. The authors demonstrate the importance of designing service-learning projects that promote reciprocity and sustained collaboration among participants and stress the need to structure such projects to meet the needs of community college students.

From Obscurity to Valuable Contributor: A Description of A Critical Service Learning Project and the Behind the Scenes Collaboration

Marisa Berman, Julia Carroll, and Jennifer Maloy


In this follow up to “From Obscurity to Valuable Contributor: A Case for Critical Service-Learning,” the authors detail how they collaborate in order to produce a successful project through the interviewing of Holocaust survivors. In this description, readers learn about the planning, interviews, and the final product produced by the students – with examples of student writing and photographs. As reference for educators looking to develop their own projects, the article covers how to build an authentic relationship across diverse communities, generate content knowledge and design classroom curriculum, and provides a chart detailing the collaboration and activities that educators can use as a template for organizing their own projects.

The Multimodal Remix: One Solution to the Double-Audience Dilemma in Service-Learning Composition

Karen Forgette, Chip Dunkin, and Andrew Davis

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Students writing for an authentic audience in service-learning composition courses often face a double-audience dilemma. The texts they compose must suit the demands of the real-world audience of the service-learning project while also meeting the expectations of the academic audience. This article examines the role multimodal composition may play in helping alleviate the tension of the double audience, particularly for basic writers.