CUNY COMPosition & Rhetoric Community

Annotated Reading List


Ingalls, Rebecca. “‘Writing Eyeball to Eyeball’: Building a Successful Collaboration.” Writing Spaces Vol 2. 2011. Web. 10 June 2014.

Ingalls provides a rationale for and explanation of collaborative writing which includes real-world examples of collaborative writing tasks. She also works to alleviate student anxiety about group work, acknowledging past experiences students may have had and encouraging them to reflect constructively on them. Ingalls goes on to offer practical advice on how to approach a collaborative project, including criteria to use for selecting a partner and how to effectively organize communication. The guidelines she provides here will be a useful jumping off point for students’ project planning, which will comprise brainstorming a topic that meets the assignment criteria, developing a plan and contract for communication, and structuring the work load. Ingalls offers a group brainstorming tool called an affinity diagram which maps areas of shared interest related to the assignment. Beyond generating topic ideas, it also asks students to problematize the topic, consider how they would research it, and to anticipate challenges. The diagram incorporates elements of stases theory to generate research questions but goes beyond it by asking students to project the feasibility of answering their question.


Swales, John. “The Concept of Discourse Community.” Genre Analysis: English in Academic and Research Settings. Boston: Cambridge UP, 1990. 21-32. Print. Reprinted in Writing About Writing 2nd ed. Ed. Doug Downs and Elizabeth Wardle. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2014. 215-229. Print.

In this article, Swales articulates a definition of and criteria for a discourse community distinct from a speech community. The piece is an excellent example of academic discourse itself in that it refers to a number of ongoing academic conversations about whether and how language and meaning are socially constructed. Though the conversations to which he refers may not be easily accessible to students, Swales 6 criteria for defining a discourse community are useful in helping students understand how texts and genres are created by groups of people to do specific things as well as how these texts and genres themselves also work to create criteria for group membership. Swales notes that, in college, “students taking a range of different courses often operate successfully as ‘ethnographers’ of these various academic milieux”(225). College freshmen are new admits to the discourse community of academia and are asked throughout their careers to write in multiple genres of the academy. By asking students to serve actively as ethnographers of a discourse community in which they already participate, studying the textual expectations of that community, students will more successfully read and analyze communities in which they may not feel at home.

Student Work Example (Theory Applied)

Branick, Sean. “Coaches Can Read, Too: An Ethnographic Study of a Football Coaching Discourse Community.” Writing About Writing 2nd ed. Ed. Doug Downs and Elizabeth Wardle. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2014. 262-272. Print.

Branick wrote this piece as a first-year writing assignment while he was a student of Doug Downs, one of the editors of the WAW reader. In this enthographic study, Branick applies two theoretical lenses from readings assigned by Downs which are also in the reader: Swales’ “The Concept of Discourse Community” and Mirabelli’s “Learning to Serve.” He observes and analyzes the work football coaches do. This observation includes actual fieldwork such as watching the coaches work, obtaining examples of texts coaches use to do their work, and interviewing coaches about how these texts help them accomplish goals. Branick then argues for a definition of literacy that includes the work these coaches do as they read not only the texts and genres of their occupation, but also the reading of individuals and situations that is necessary for them to perform their jobs well. Branick’s essay can serve as an effective model for student writing because he ably applies theoretical lenses to data he has found through research; he analyzes his findings in light of these lenses. While students in a single semester course composed of multiple units will not have the luxury of time Branick had in undertaking this study, aspects of his study will be useful to students as they attempt their own ethnographic research and analysis on a smaller scale.

Process Analysis

Sommers, Nancy. “Revision Strategies of Student Writers and Experienced Adult Writers.” College Composition and Communication 31.4 (1980): 378-88. Print. Reprinted in Writing About Writing 2nd ed. Ed. Doug Downs and Elizabeth Wardle. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2014. 576-589. Print.

Sommers uses a case study approach to investigate “whether there are differences in how student writers talk about and implement revision in their writing compared with how experienced professional writers do so”(Downs and Wardle 576). Her study included 20 student writers and 20 experienced adult writers, each of whom was asked to write three essays in different modes, each of which was revised twice, producing nine drafts in total; each writer was “interviewed three times after the final revision of each essay.” In addition, each writer provided feedback suggesting revisions on a piece by an unknown author (579). Sommers analyzed each piece of writing “by counting and categorizing changes made. Four revising operations were identified: deletion, substitution, addition, and reordering. And four levels of changes were identified: word, phrase, sentence, theme (the extended statement of one idea”(579). While Sommers’s findings are interesting, her categorization of revision operations and levels is most useful in my assignment and in helping student writers analyze their revision processes more broadly. Her categorizations will serve as a guide for students as they write a process analysis of their ethnography by interpreting revision history data and the DocuViz mapping of this data.