• analysis of textbook dependency (vs. the use of more activities and a focus on course goals)
    • Jones, Billie J. "Are You Using? Textbook Dependency and Breaking the Cycle." BWe?: Basic Writing e-Journal 2.1 (2000): n. pag. Web. 11 Aug. 2009.
  • composition and the reinforcement of middle-class values
    • Bloom, Lynn Z. "Freshman Composition as a Middle Class Enterprise." College English 58.6 (1996): 654–75. Print.
  • looking at textbooks to see how critical literacy is being taught
    • Bruch, Patrick, and Thomas Reynolds. "Critical Literacy and Basic Writing Textbooks: Teaching toward a More Just Literacy." BWe?: Basic Writing e-Journal 2.1 (2000): n. pag. Web. 11 Aug. 2009.
  • using home literacies to teach hybridization
    • McCrary?, Donald. "Represent, Representin’, Representation: The Efficacy of Hybrid Texts in the Writing Classroom." Journal of Basic Writing 24.2 (2005): 72–91. Print.


  • similarities between language acquisition and learning academic discourse language


Ed Q:

Nomenclature of Basic Writing Courses

Naming and Renaming; Connotations and expectations related to a name

Good Writing: Inglés vs. Español

Using Multicultural Literature to Improve Writing

What High Stakes Writing Misses

The Evolution of "Good" Writing



  • History and Theory: Basic Writing and Basic Writers > Literacy and Basic Writing (From the Bedford Bibliography)
  • I saw many references to social change, social practices and literacy within and about basic writing. I'm looking to write/research in this vein. I need to find more connections amongst these sources. How can basic writing students (and/or basic writing instructors) effect/implement social change with their writing? What is the best type of instruction for basic writers?
  • Biser, Eileen, Linda Rubel, and Rose Marie Toscano. "Be Careful What You Ask For: When Basic Writers Take the Rhetorical Stage." Journal of Basic Writing 21.1 (2002): 52–70. Print. The authors argue that if basic writers are to effect social change through their writing, they must be taught how to read critically the range of social, economic, political, cultural, and ideological perspectives of their audiences — intended and unintended — and how to explore the limitations and benefits of textual forms available for response. Noting that basic writers are also basic readers who apply only a personal interpretive frame to texts, the authors analyze a deaf student’s failed attempt to effect social change on her campus and conclude that the student’s attempt failed because they, her instructors, failed pedagogically to move beyond a romanticized notion of effecting public change through public rhetorical acts.
  • Carter, Shannon. "Redefining Literacy as a Social Practice." Journal of Basic Writing 25.2 (2006): 94–125. Print. In this essay, Carter deplores the pervasive skills-based instruction in basic writing classes, as well as the ubiquitous “teach to the state-mandated standardized test” pedagogy that all too many basic writing classes have. She proposes a “pedagogy of rhetorical dexterity,” informed by New Literary Studies and activity theory, through which basic writing students “develop the flexibility and skill necessary to negotiate multiple, always changing literacies.” The article includes assignments and student writing for those assignments.
  • Lu, Min-Zhan. "Redefining the Legacy of Mina Shaughnessy: A Critique of the Politics of Linguistic Innocence." Journal of Basic Writing 10.1 (1991): 26–40. Print. Despite the importance of Mina Shaughnessy’s Errors and Expectations [117], Lu argues that Shaughnessy’s pedagogical intentions would have been better served by a theory of language that eschews essentialism and the “politics of linguistic innocence” (27). While pedagogies motivated by the idea of an inherent deep structure of meaning successfully pose the dual challenges of becoming familiar with conventions and of gaining authorial confidence, they fail to offer students a chance to respond to “the potential dissonance between academic discourses and their home discourses” (27). Lu observes that the process of writing in a political and linguistic context of academic convention tends to determine the contingencies of meaning produced by a given student writer. Rethinking the essentialist premises of Errors and Expectations allows the possibility of extending Shaughnessy’s original open-ended purpose of using the writing classroom to respond to social inequality and cultural marginalization. Therefore, the article goes on to criticize the uses to which Shaughnessy’s work has been put by E. D. Hirsch in his New Right rhetoric.
  • Lunsford, Andrea. "Politics and Practices in Basic Writing." A Sourcebook for Basic Writing Teachers. Ed. Theresa Enos. New York: Random, 1987. 246–58. Print. Lunsford responds to the so-called literacy crisis with an overview of the history of “literacy crises” in American universities, a review of certain practices that Lunsford views as “unacceptable or harmful responses” (253) in the education of basic writers, and a review of the practices that she believes constitute a more appropriate response to the condition of basic writers. Lunsford explores the way that basic writing practices have, for more than a century, been overdetermined by “economic, social, and political power” (253) and that, indeed, the so-called current literacy crisis is hardly more than a historical practice of domination and hegemony. Her critique of “bad practices” focuses on a mistaken oversimplification of basic writing courses and an overattention to correctness, error detection, and unethical labor practices. She endorses challenging students, collaboration, critiquing error within specific writing contexts, requiring smaller class sizes, and customizing the curriculum to learner needs.



How does the reduced funding for education affect the basic writing student? How can technology help alleviate the economic stress and benefit basic writing students?

What type working conditions have basic writing faculty dealt with, and how can they improve working conditions in the future?

How has the notion of global literacy affected the basic writing classroom? What new expectations and standards does it create, and how does they manifest themselves on the basic writing student?

Samantha Howard

  • Who are basic writers?
    • Identity, Culture, Dual Environments
      • How does basic writing relate to the digital native/media culture?
        • On the other side of the Electronic Circuit: A Virtual Remapping of Border Crossings – Sibylle Gruber

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