New at College Composition Weekly: In the September College English, Rebecca Tarsa proposes strategies for creating an effective “exordium” for writing classrooms by examining how the digital interface works as an exordium in online participatory sites in which students voluntarily contribute writing. She draws on Teena Carnegie’s work to argue that the interface of an online site meets Cicero’s definition of the exordium as an appeal designed to “make the listener ‘well-disposed, attentive, and receptive’ to the ensuring speech.” In the case of an online site, the interface as exordium accomplishes this goal by “project[ing] to users the potential for interactivity within the site that matches their desired engagement while also supporting the ends of the site itself.” Adopting some features of online interfaces can trigger more voluntary and spontaneous writing in composition classes.

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THIS WEEK AT COLLEGE COMPOSITION WEEKLY: Student Understanding of Plagiarism

This week at College Composition Weekly: David W. Hartwig, writing in Teaching English in the Two-Year College,College Composition Weekly Banner argues that students come to college with good “objective” knowledge about what constitutes plagiarism but struggle to identify it in actual passages. He agrees with Rebecca Moore Howard that practices like “patchwriting” are steps toward effective academic discourse; these instances of apparent plagiarism, he argues, measure students’ ability to read and understand complex scholarly writing rather than their honesty. He urges that work on critical reading be coordinated with writing and that faculty across campus share the task of teaching the correct use of sources.


In the September 2015 College Composition and Communication, Patrick Sullivan argues that composition should not relegate creativity to the creative writing classroom but should join other fields in seizing its potential as a vital component of cognition, transfer, problem-solving, and critical thinking and as a “luminous human capacity” that can be learned by anyone.

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Writing in Teaching English in the Two-Year College, John Pruitt reports on a case study of eight heterosexual students who chose LGBT novels and met to discuss them without a teacher’s intervention. Recording the sessions, Pruitt discovered concerns about “authenticity”; he posits that the need to create authenticity in depicting a culture can encourage essentialized perceptions of that culture, despite the diversity of its members. He feels that insights into what students bring to literature before an instructor’s theoretical framing helps him better understand how to teach literature about difference.

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New at College Composition Weekly: Hansen et al. from WPA Journal on Dual Credit Courses.

Kristine Hansen, Brian Jackson, Brett C. McInelly, and Dennis Eggett conducted a study at Brigham Young University (BYU) to determine whether students who took a dual-credit/concurrent-enrollment writing course (DC/CE) fared as well on the writing assigned in a subsequent required general-education course as students who took or were taking the university’s first-year-writing course. With few exceptions, Hansen et al. concluded that the students who had taken the earlier courses for their college credit performed similarly to students who had not. However, the study raised questions about the degree to which taking college writing in high school, or for that matter, in any single class, adequately meets the needs of maturing student writers (79). Check out the summary at

New Post at College Composition Weekly: Kimberly Drake, Genderqueering Language

In a special issue of The Writing Instructor, Drake writes about efforts at Scripps College to make language more inclusive, arguing that such efforts still reflect a false “gender binary” that erases students who do not fit into the normative categories. She argues for uses of language that refuse the binary and demand recognition of the complexities of gender. Visit and leave your thoughts on this issue!