The Scholar Electric

News and updates from CCDP

March 14, 2020

Crowdsourcing with CCDP

Sound-Mapping: Seeing the Rhetorical Choices in Podcasts, with Amy Cicchino

In an interview with Estee Beck (2013), CCDP co-founder Cynthia Selfe reflects upon the central role of collaboration–not only in starting the press, but in continuously sharing high-quality scholarship on a global scale and in a timely fashion:

with each [book], it has really taken, excuse the cliché, but a village to get the work distributed
(p. 354).

Our press celebrates CCDP readers as part of that village, because distribution doesn’t stop at publication. Through CCDP readers, our authors’ ideas have traversed a variety of spaces–from articles to conferences to conversations. In this crowdsourcing initiative, we’re showcasing how our readers have extended the press’s impact into the classroom. We are featuring in our Scholar Electric blog pedagogical documents–like lesson plans, activities, and assignments–that were inspired by CCDP publications.

Our first showcase comes from Amy Cicchino, whose activity was inspired by Courtney S. Danforth, Kyle D. Stedman, and Michael J. Faris’ Soundwriting Pedagogies. Danforth, Stedman, and Faris curate a collection of pedagogies that respond to a growing ease-of-access to soundwriting technologies. We are pleased to present a response to that collection: Cicchino’s activity Sound-Mapping: Seeing the Rhetorical Choices in Podcasts, which employs the concept of sound mapping (see: Milena Droumeva and David Murphy’s Soundwriting chapter “A Pedagogy of Listening”). Students in Cicchino’s junior-level professional writing course create maps to help them visualize the rhetorical use of sound. Check out Cicchino’s activity and exemplary sound maps below! And if you have an activity inspired by a CCDP title, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact CCDP Digital Fellows Savanna Conner ( and Mandy Olejnik ( to submit assignments and ideas.


Beck, E. (2014). Reflecting upon the past, sitting with the present, and charting our future: Gail Hawisher and Cynthia Selfe discussing the community of Computers & Composition. Computers and Composition, 30, 349-357.

Danforth, C. S., Stedman, K. D., & Faris, M. J. (Eds.). (2018). Soundwriting Pedagogies. Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State University Press.

Droumeva, M., & Murphy, D. (2018). A pedagogy of listening. In C. S. Danforth, K. D. Stedman, and M. J. Faris (Eds.) Soundwriting Pedagogies. Computers and Composition Digital Press.

Sound-Mapping: Seeing the Rhetorical Choices in Podcasts

Dr. Amy Cicchino, Director of University Writing, Auburn University

This activity was originally implemented in a junior-level professional writing class. Students completed the activity at the beginning of a unit on media analysis, before they began composing an audio assignment.

Inspired by Danforth, Stedman, and Faris’ Soundwriting Pedgagogies (2018) collection, soundmapping helps students see the rhetorical choices that inform soundwriting by identifying and visually mapping the parts of a podcast. Soundmapping is like audio storyboarding. Specifically, this introductory activity helps students (1) identify and rhetorically analyze the different parts of a podcast; (2) learn the look of audio design program interfaces; and (3) begin considering the processes of brainstorming and drafting a piece of soundwriting (the thinking part that has to happen before anything is recorded or mixed).

Soundmapping is a good scaffolding starting point for soundwriting as it encourages students to enact Bunn’s (2011) Read Like a Writer techniques for audio texts. Reading like a writer—which in this case becomes listening like a soundwriter—encourages students “[to look] at the writerly techniques in the text in order to decide if you might want to adopt similar (or the same) techniques in your writing” and what effect those choices have on a reader/listener (Bunn, 2011, p. 72). Consequently, listening like a writer prompts students to identify the rhetorical choices the podcast creator(s) made and how those choices come together to create a cohesive experience of audio storytelling.

Before this activity

Identify a podcast in which an entire class would have interest. Often, I choose first episodes from a popular series (like Serial or 1619) or podcasts that have a general informative theme (like This American Life, Invisibilia, Mobituaries). Assign students to listen to a single episode or part of an episode as homework. Students should come to class with the following questions answered. This will provide a nice jumping off point to class discussion and create accountability for listening carefully to the assigned episode.


  1. What is the purpose of this podcast?
  2. Given this purpose, who is the most likely audience? Remember, be as specific as possible.
  3. Why would someone want to listen to this podcast? What would their motivation be?
  4. Identify the different sources of sounds that you heard in this episode in a list. This should include different speakers, effects, musical elements, and transitional noises.
  5. Did you think this podcast was effective in achieving its purpose for its audience? How do you know?
  6. Identify a moment in this episode where you felt the podcast was most rhetorically effective. Why did you choose this moment? What made it effective?
  7. When were there moments of confusion, ambiguity, or ineffectiveness for you? Do you think the podcast was intentionally confusing/ambiguous, or do you think these are instances of unintended miscommunication?


When students enter class the next day, we begin by getting into small groups and discussing our responses to the questions. I want them to practice applying rhetorical concepts to the episode, but I also want them to start considering what makes the genre effective. After discussing these questions, we delve into the deeper analysis of close reading the podcast through soundmapping.

Before class, I have selected a brief segment from the episode (typically, 1-3 minutes). I play the segment once just so we can all hear it again. Then, I explain that we are moving from listening to the podcast as an audience member towards thinking about how the podcast was put together, as creators. Our goal is to plot a diagram of the different sounds we hear, to create a kind of “map.” I compare our mapping activity to the work we do when we visually outline a piece of writing.

I distribute the soundmapping graphic organizer (Figure 1) and explain its general organization (which is meant to mimic audio-making interfaces).

Figure 1: Graphic organizer

We listen to the segment again with the goal of just marking how many sounds we hear and when they enter and exit the soundscape. This almost always takes multiple listenings. Then, students map fading in and out, as well.

Once we have our map, I break the students into new groups, and we tackle more nuanced questions about our map. These questions are recorded below.

  1. Focus on all of the different types of sound you see on your map. What rhetorical purposes do these different forms of sound serve? For instance, some podcasts use voices to attribute sources, as a kind of aural citation. Others use different sounds for mood. Others for organizational transitions and cues. Why do you think this soundwriter chose the sounds you see on the map in front of you?
  2. In your group’s opinion, do the sounds achieve their intended rhetorical purpose?
  3. Every aspect in a composition is a choice, and all choices have advantages and disadvantages. Choose one element in your soundmap and brainstorm in your group other things the soundwriter could have done to achieve their rhetorical purpose instead of what they did. What are the advantages and disadvantages of these other choices?
  4. Before you came into class today, you answered the following question: “Did you think this podcast was effective in achieving its purpose for its audience? How do you know?” Looking at your sound map, do you still agree with your initial evaluation of the podcast? How do you see this (in)effectiveness being enacted in the segment that we mapped?
  5. Did mapping the podcast show you anything new? In other words, did you “see” something that you hadn’t initially “heard?”

In the example that I’ve provided (Figure 2)—the opening to an episode of Reply All­—the class might look at how an episode opens with conversational dialogue between the hosts that continues even as it interrupts the momentum that could pick up as the episode topic is introduced to listeners. This is pretty different than other potential podcast openings. Dramatic podcasts, for instance, use intro music and opening dialogue to place the listener within the topic from the very start. Some students might suggest that conversational interruptions are an ineffective way to open an episode, and they could be right if they identified the purpose of this episode was to transport the listener into a narrative. Reply All, however, might have a different identified purpose. If its purpose is to give listeners the impression that they are interacting with the hosts who are telling us a story, then the conversational informality reinforces that purpose. Analyzing podcast design as a series of rhetorical choices encourages the class to see the mapped choice as one of many possibilities. This discussion should then lead students to brainstorm other ways Reply All could achieve rhetorical purposes through different designs for their episode opening.

Figure 2: Model, completed graphic organizer

Often, considering the writing process can be difficult, especially when listening to soundwriting. Soundmapping can be a way to slow down and see the different rhetorical moves being made. It can double as a planning strategy for students before they begin mixing their audio for their own soundwriting pieces. Like writing, there is no one right process for soundwriting, but mapping gives students another mode for processing sound and a strategy to support their brainstorming and drafting processes.


Bunn, M. (2011). How to read like a writer. In Charles Lowe and Pavel Zemlianski (Eds.), Writing spaces: Readings on writing, vol. 2. (pp. 71–86). Parlor Press.—how-to-read.pdf

Danforth, C. S., Stedman, K. D., & Faris, M. J. (Eds.). (2018). Soundwriting Pedagogies. Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State University Press.

February 28, 2020

The Computers and Composition Press: A Ten-Year Retrospective

To re-member is to fashion together, thread by thread, the pieces or elements that constellate into complex narratives of selfhood and society; of individual and communal identities, experiences, cultures, and expressions; as mediated by increasingly digital environments.

For the past ten years (from 2009 to the present), the Computers and Composition Digital Press (CCDP) has offered a platform for the open-access publishing of scholarship in computer-mediated composition, digital literacies and rhetorics, and related topics. As part of a ten-year retrospective of the press, we aim to trace and synthesize themes that have emerged through the years, traversing the trajectories interwoven by the people and publications that have formed and enriched the press. This retrospective review essay, then, seeks to stimulate further dialogue on the publications.

The first book published by the press in 2009, Technological Ecologies of Sustainability, edited by Dànielle Nicole DeVoss, Heidi A. McKee, and Richard (Dickie) Selfe, considered “complex ecologies of interaction” that form in the mediated interactions between humans and computerized writing environments. As stated in the book’s description, “In academia, specifically, all writing is increasingly computer-mediated; all writing is digital.” In a sense, this first book serves as a metaphor for the trajectories that have since unfolded and expanded with each subsequent publication: each volume interweaves various threads in the ecologies of interaction that enable and are enabled by digitally mediated learning, teaching, and composing environments.

In the spirit of intercultural inquiry, the press’s publications foreground a diversity of voices and perspectives from various identities, communities, and embodiments. While Transnational Literate Lives in Digital Times by Patrick W. Berry, Gail E. Hawisher, and Cynthia L. Selfe investigates the ways in which individuals “take up digital literacies and fold them into the fabric of their daily lives,” Techne: Queer Meditations on Writing the Self by Jacqueline Rhodes and Jonathan Alexander explores “the often contradictory interplay between digital and traditional technologies and the author/ed self.”

Many of the books offer critical engagements with the digital across dimensions of race, gender, class, labor, sexuality, and geography. For instance, Generaciones Narratives by John Scenters‐Zapico examines the literacy experiences of marginalized populations living along the U.S.-Mexico border, Racial Shorthand, edited by Cruz Medina and Octavio Pimentel, studies how communities of color engage in social media practices, and Cámara Rhetorica by Alexandra Hidalgo interrogates rhetoric through the lens of feminist filmmaking. As varied texts such as Strategic Discourse: The Politics of (New) Literacy Crises, edited by Lynn C. Lewis, Con Job: Stories of Adjunct and Contingent Labor, directed and produced by Megan Fulwiler and Jennifer Marlow, and Sustainable Learning Spaces, edited by Russell Carpenter, Richard Selfe, Shawn Apostel, and Kristi Apostel, illustrate, our work as teachers and scholars is situated in the politics of labor, literacies, and sustainability.

Moreover, the publications reveal, reflect, and in turn, affect the ways the digital is embedded in our scholarship, pedagogy, and activism. The New Work of Composing, edited by Debra Journet, Cheryl Ball, and Ryan Trauman, for instance, analyzes the “complex and semiotically rich challenges and opportunities posed by new forms of composing.” A range of titles including Collaborative Approaches to the Digital in English Studies, edited by Laura McGrath, Digital Writing Assessment and Evaluation, edited by Heidi A. McKee and Dànielle Nicole DeVoss, Soundwriting Pedagogies, edited by Courtney S. Danforth, Kyle D. Stedman, and Michael J. Faris, The Archive as Classroom, edited by Kathryn Comer, Michael Harker, and Ben McCorkle, and The Rhetoric of Participation, edited by Paige V. Banaji, Lisa Blankenship, Katherine DeLuca, Lauren Obermark, and Ryan Omizo, offer approaches to teaching digital composing in the classroom through collaboration and participation, as well as for extending composing into the sonic dimension and assessing multimodal and digital projects.

The books gesture to the presents and futures of signification in the field: while Provocations: Reconstructing the Archive, edited by Patrick W. Berry, Gail E. Hawisher, & Cynthia L. Selfe, and featuring the work of Erin R. Anderson, Trisha N. Campbell, Alexandra Hidalgo, and Jody Shipka, invites the interplay of “experimental genres, fruitful and unusual collaborations, and/or mediated, born-digital formats,” Making Future Matters, edited by Rick Wysocki and Mary P. Sheridan, aims to “shed light on and enact complex possibilities of mattering.” Our trajectory is forward-looking, characterized and inspired by continued development, as described in Expanding Literate Landscapes by Kevin Roozen and Joe Erickson. Our scholarship is, at its core, composed of stories: as such, Stories that Speak to Us, edited by H. Lewis Ulman, Scott Lloyd DeWitt, and Cynthia L. Selfe, considers how people “fashion their lives; make sense of their world, indeed construct the realities in which they live.” Our work is also one of wonder, as Technologies of Wonder by Susan H. Delagrange reminds us.

CCDP publications have made a significant impact in the field and have garnered many awards: Cámara Rhetorica by Alexandra Hidalgo is the winner of the 2017 Computers and Composition Distinguished Book Award; Techne: Queer Meditations on Writing the Self by Jacqueline Rhodes and Jonathan Alexander won the 2015 CCCC Lavender Rhetorics Award for Excellence in Queer Scholarship; Con Job: Stories of Adjunct and Contingent Labor by Megan Fulwiler and Jennifer Marlow was recognized with the 2014 Computers and Composition Michelle Kendrick Outstanding Digital Scholarship Award; and The New Work of Composing, edited by Debra Journet, Cheryl Ball, and Ryan Trauman, was the winner of the 2012 Computers and Composition Distinguished Book Award. Transnational Literate Lives in Digital Times by Patrick W. Berry, Gail E. Hawisher, and Cynthia L. Selfe also won the 2013 CCCC Advancement of Knowledge Award and the 2013 CCCC Research Impact Award and Technologies of Wonder: Rhetorical Practice in a Digital World by Susan H. Delagrange was recognized with the 2011 Computers and Composition Distinguished Book Award, the 2012 Winifred Bryan Horner Outstanding Book Award from the Coalition of Women Scholars in the History of Rhetoric, and the 2013 CCCC Outstanding Book Award. The Press also won the Computers and Composition Michelle Kendrick Outstanding Digital Production Award in 2018.

As each text unfolds in spatial and temporal dimensions, in looking back upon the histories of the press’s publications, we can glean insights into the presents and possible futures of digital composition and production. Even as these works enrich our conversations into the intersections of composition and computer-mediated environments, our investigations continue to expand, evolve, and complicate, constellating into complex tapestries of interaction, interconnection, and transformation.

Works Cited

Banaji, Paige V., Lisa Blankenship, Katherine DeLuca, Lauren Obermark, and Ryan Omizo, editors. The Rhetoric of Participation: Interrogating Commonplaces In and Beyond the Classroom. Logan: Computers and Composition Digital P/Utah State UP, 2019,

Berry, Patrick W., Gail E. Hawisher, and Cynthia L. Selfe, eds. Provocations: Reconstructing the Archive, featuring the work of Erin R. Anderson, Trisha N. Campbell, Alexandra Hidalgo, and Jody Shipka. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital P/Utah State UP, 2016. Web.

Berry, Patrick W., Gail E. Hawisher, and Cynthia L. Selfe. Transnational Literate Lives in Digital Times. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital P/Utah State UP, 2012. Web.

Carpenter, Russell, Richard Selfe, Shawn Apostel, and Kristi Apostel, Eds. Sustainable Learning Spaces: Design, Infrastructure, and Technology. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State University Press, 2015. Web.

Comer, Kathryn, Michael Harker, and Ben McCorkle, editors. The Archive as Classroom: Pedagogical Approaches to the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives. Logan: Computers and Composition Digital P/Utah State UP, 2019,

Danforth, Courtney S., Kyle D. Stedman, and Michael J. Faris, editors. Soundwriting Pedagogies. Logan: Computers and Composition Digital P/Utah State UP, 2018,

Delagrange, Susan H. Technologies of Wonder: Rhetorical Practice in a Digital World. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State University Press, 2011.

DeVoss, Dànielle N., Heidi A. McKee, and Richard (Dickie) Selfe, eds. Technological Ecologies and Sustainability. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital P/Utah State UP, 2009. Computers and Composition Digital Press. Web. [Insert date of access here].

Fulwiler, Megan, and Marlow, Jennifer. Con Job: Stories of Adjunct and Contingent Labor. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State UP, 2014. Web.

Hidalgo, Alexandra. Cámara Retórica: A Feminist Filmmaking Methodology. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital P/Utah State UP, 2017. Web.

Journet, Debra, Cheryl Ball, and Ryan Trauman, Eds. The New Work of Composing. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital P/Utah State UP, 2012. Web.

Lewis, Lynn C., Ed. Strategic Discourse: The Politics of (New) Literacy Crises. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State University Press, 2015. Web.

Medina, Cruz, and Octavio Pimentel, editors. Racial Shorthand: Coded Discrimination Contested in Social Media. Logan: Computers and Composition Digital P/Utah State UP, 2018,

McGrath, Laura, ed. Collaborative Approaches to the Digital in English Studies. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital P/Utah State UP, 2011. Computers and Composition Digital Press. Web.

McKee, Heidi A., and Dànielle Nicole DeVoss DeVoss, Eds. Digital Writing Assessment & Evaluation. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State University Press, 2013. Web.

Roozen, Kevin, and Joe Erickson. Expanding Literate Landscapes: Persons, Practices, and Sociohistoric Perspectives of Disciplinary Development. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital P/Utah State UP, 2017. Web.

Rhodes, Jacqueline, and Jonathan Alexander. Techne: Queer Meditations on Writing the Self. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State University Press, 2015. Web.

Scenters‐Zapico, John. Generaciones’ Narratives: The Pursuit & Practice of Traditional & Electronic Literacies on the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State University Press, 2010.

Ulman, H. Lewis, Scott Lloyd DeWitt, and Cynthia L. Selfe, Eds. Stories That Speak to Us. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital P/Utah State UP, 2013. Web.

Wysocki, Rick, and Mary P. Sheridan, editors. Making Future Matters. Logan: Computers and Composition Digital P/Utah State UP, 2018,

November 22, 2019

The Rhetoric of Participation, Part Two

Reflecting on Genevieve Critel's work with Paige Banaji

As we’ve been discussing in Part One of this blog series, participation occurs in vastly different ways in the composition classroom and community. Part one explored the commonplaces of community and assessment, with personal anecdotes from editors of this digital collection. This final blog post will continue to discuss the impact and legacy of Genevieve Critel’s work, while reviewing the commonplace of embodiment and technology from the authors in this collection, in addition to one final personal reflection from the editors.

Commonplace Three: Embodiment

The commonplace “embodiment” explores ways in which student and instructor bodies are coded in the classroom and the ways these bodies are asked, constrained, and sometimes excluded because of normative framings of participation (commonplace guide)

This section takes a look into the significant roles our bodies play in the act and understanding of student participation. Chapters presented here touch on subjects such as queer, second language learners (L2), and universal design participation. In the opening chapter, Matthew Cox in the composition classroom. His study expands on Critel’s argument that “the embodiment of participation is complicated by difference—race, gender, nationality, [and] dis/ability” (168). Because of these embodied experiences, instructors in rhetoric and composition studies can encourage students to express themselves openly through their writing, as they navigate complex experiences within themselves and the world. Thinking about the individual student, Tony Cimasko and Dong-shin Shin advocate for more instructors to consider how verbal participation is privileged above all forms but can be difficult for L2 learners due to cultural and linguistic differences. One approach instructors can take that acknowledge students’ embodied experience draws from universal design theory. Through universal design, Elizabeth Brewer argues that students will have more say in the creation of participation guidelines which fosters accessible participation expectations from all.

Editor’s Reflection:

I don’t include a participation requirement in my syllabi anymore. To be honest, I have always felt uncomfortable about the subjective nature of grading “participation.” I remember in my early years of teaching, I asked my mentor about how to grade participation. She suggested I ask students to write a reflection and assessment of their own participation. This seemed like a student-centered, reflective approach. However, the students’ reflections were superficial, and they gave themselves As. However, to be honest, I’m not sure my assessment would have been much different.

If I had known then what I know now about participation, I might have developed a more rigorous approach to this self-assessment. Instead, I reverted to what I was doing before: Giving participation a light but significant weight and grading it unsystematically and subjectively at the end of the semester. Despite my uncomfortableness with the participation requirement, I did not change it or interrogate it until Gen started working on her dissertation, when I was forced to re-think this part of my teaching.

Some of my most cherished memories from graduate school are of sitting in coffee shops with Gen while we wrote our dissertations. We would meet up several times a week and sit for hours while we wrote. We would talk through our ideas and read each other’s work; we became intimately knowledgeable of each other’s research.

One time she was talking through one of her ideas about participation; it was an insight I did not want to believe. She described teachers as puppet masters, and students, like puppets, performing according to the teachers’ manipulations. I argued with her about this point. (We liked to debate a lot back then. We argued like sisters.) Did she really believe that? Teachers aren’t like that. I’m not like that.

In her dissertation, she wrote: “The cynic in me sees [student participation] as little more than wishful thinking: does tying students’ grades to their performance of community create anything other than a collection of puppets, some more, some less, willing to do the teacher’s bidding? … In this line of reasoning, the participation requirement serves to construct the type of community dynamic the instructor envisions as a component in an ideal classroom” (119).

Gen makes many astute and smart observations in her dissertation. But this bold assertion is what has stuck with me the most. I believe now that my initial incredulity demonstrates the idea’s uncomfortable truth.

In my classes now, I don’t include a participation requirement. However, even without the requirement, I inevitably have expectations for how students should act and perform in my classes. My expectations are the result of my own pedagogical orientation, and I try to be mindful of how my expectations may or may not be accessible, familiar, or comfortable for each student. I try to be mindful of how my students may engage in ways that are useful and meaningful to them. I try to grant them the agency to participate in their own ways.”

- Paige Banaji

Commonplace Four: Technology

The commonplace of technology explores ways in which the computer technologies and communication platforms, such as learning management systems, used by students and instructors condition participation in the classroom (commonplace guide).

In the concluding section, authors explore how technology fosters participation, addressing issues of internet use in the classroom, MOOCs, and the role of participation in web memes. Jason Palmeri and Abby Dubisar’s opening chapter discusses what a digital participatory pedagogy might look like when we consider the role of digital technologies during class sessions. Being that this is an issue many instructors come up against, Palmeri and Dubisar suggest ways the digital classroom can encourage student to be more active in participation while presenting more options for them to engage. Michael Harker, Mary Hocks, and Matthew Sansbury shift the discussion while presenting a case for different approaches to participation depending on the infrastructure of the learning environments. In massive open online courses (MOOCs), participation should be carefully thought of and implemented with consideration to the online classroom structure.

Afterword & Conclusion

Reflecting on Genevieve Critel’s important body of work, participation is no easy topic to discuss. The commonplaces explored throughout this collection give us a glimpse into the many aspects of student participation that are many times overlooked, but necessary to consider when creating the kinds of learning environments for students to thrive in and succeed. As scholars in the field of rhetoric and composition, we can use these chapters and reflections of Critel to respond to her central question: what if we asked students to tell us how they will participate?

October 24, 2019

The Rhetoric of Participation

Considering Genevieve Critel's work with Katherine DeLuca & Lauren Obermark


The Rhetoric of Participation is an edited collection that honors the legacy of Genevieve Critel, whose research addresses participation as a critical need in the field of rhetoric and composition. Throughout the 12 chapters in this digital book, authors build on various topic areas that not only extend, but additionally, complicate Critel’s four commonplaces (themes, practices, or concepts) of participation. The four commonplaces explored by authors in this collection are 1) Community, 2) Assessment, 3) Embodiment, and 4) Technology. Each of these commonplaces help us to understand the places where participation take place in the work of our students within the classroom and beyond.

For this particular blog post series, editors of the digital book were contacted to share the impact Genevieve has had on their personal lives, and pedagogical choices. As you will see throughout the blog post entries, the editors’ personal accounts and reflections have been interwoven to show how her work has been transformative and influential.

In her work, Critel argues that “the role of student participation is understudied, even though it’s a nearly universal expectation in the college-level writing classroom as well as many other classrooms across the disciplines” (Introduction). This collection is a way to extend and expand on that central theme and more, using personal narratives that better prepare us to help our students, while reflecting and evaluating our own pedagogical approaches.

In exploring the different commonplaces, many authors in this collection also reflect on personal experiences with Critel, sharing how her work has been monumental in the way they now understand and implement participation criteria.

Commonplace One: Community

The commonplace “community” refers to prevailing instructor conceptions of the classroom as a community of learners and writers (commonplace guide). In this section, authors explored the role of student participation in settings such as the writing classroom, writing center, and in collaboration with WPAs.

How can student participation foster community? This section dives into the important role instructors can play in creating hospitable spaces and participation opportunities that go further than students speaking audibly in class. What we find through each chapter are the gaps between the ways in which students draw upon community as an important factor in participation. For instance, Lauren Obermark addresses the question raised by Critel’s dissertation work, “what if we asked students to tell us how they will participate?” Through in-depth interviews with students, she found that participation was largely welcomed by students, but factors such as grading came off as “threatening” especially when you might be shy (as in the case with one of her students.) Michele Eodice helps us to consider participation and hospitable spaces, devices, and people, referring to these spaces as “sites that have been deliberately designed for access and interaction” Hospitality as a gesture in rhetoric and composition causes us to consider participation as more then a set of regulatory practices, such as attendance, preparation, and raising hands to contribute to a discussion, Eodice argues. In building community, however, instructors must think of hospitality as a way to reflect on their own role in participation, in addition to the students’. Because if we are truly enacting hospitality, the gesture must move in both directions.

Editors’ Reflection:

I was very fortunate in that Dr. Genevieve Critel was not just a friend and a colleague during my time as a graduate student at Ohio State, but she was also one of my many teachers. Teachers and mentors come in many shapes, and I have always found it important to try to learn from those who have gone before. And Gen was no different. I learned so much from her—all of which I think shaped her work in participation as it also informed her approach to her scholarship, her teaching, and to the world around her.

I first learned from Gen in the classroom as a peer, but even then she was a teacher. Gen modeled a different type of participation than others I saw in the graduate classroom. Gen didn’t have to speak out and up much to be heard. Her presence spoke plenty, and she always contributed to conversations in meaningful and measured ways. Gen perhaps didn’t talk a lot, but she always spoke thoughtfully and mindfully. Later, in working with her scholarship to bring it to publication, I realized that some of this quiet presence stemmed from her own struggles with shyness as a student in the classroom. At the time, I didn’t realize this was shaping her experience; as her colleague in the class, I just noticed her quiet poise and thoughtfulness and how she embodied this presence in the classroom.

I next learned from Gen as a student when she served as Assistant Director for the Digital Media and Composition Institute alongside a team of directors, including Cindy Selfe and Scott DeWitt. In this role, Gen taught me a lot about teaching and working with diverse groups of individuals. Gen taught me the power of telling students, “I don’t know,” and how that willingness to confess uncertainty and ignorance to students can be a powerful way to teach them about troubleshooting and taking risks in their learning. I learned that facilitating participation especially with and through technologies can mean making mistakes and being uncomfortable and that this discomfort is fruitful.

I also learned from Gen as a friend. Gen was the sort of person who genuinely cared about other people and though she was extremely intelligent and talented, she was never boastful or arrogant. Gen modeled for me the sort of scholar and educator I would like to be—one motivated by a desire to help people, especially students, to learn and take risks but to know always that someone cared for them and was focused on their success classroom and my impact on others, as a teacher and as a researcher. I am, and always will be, so very grateful to Gen for everything she taught me

– Katherine DeLuca

Commonplace Two: Assessment

The commonplace “assessment” refers to how participation is measured and/or graded in the classroom. Through various modes such as syllabus design and language, instructor attitudes, and student performance (commonplace guide).

Considering the role of assessment, this section interrogates and even complicates traditional notions of how participation has been assessed in the composition classroom. Additionally, readers get a snapshot of Genevieve Critel’s dissertation work that inspired this collection, along with scholars who investigate the role assessment has when implementing participation criteria.

In the opening section, Critel connects the commonplaces of assessment and embodiment to show how both topoi go hand in hand. Critel argues in her work that participation itself is a commonplace that is often left open-ended and abstract, making it difficult for students to clearly understand what is being expected from them.This can be misleading, despite what Critel calls “good pedagogical intentions” from instructors. Critel further explains:

The phenomenon of grading class participation is perhaps the direct result of cross-disciplinary moves toward student-centered learning. The assumption is that to make the shift from lecture-based classrooms to student-centered classrooms, teachers must articulate and perhaps assess student participation. Without this articulation or assessment, students wouldn’t participate.

Drawing on the commonplace of embodiment, she is able to then to discuss how this lack of communication marginalizes students unfamiliar with academic norms and expectations. Similarly, Kelly Bradbury and Paul Muhlhauser also examine instructor perspectives on participation, expanding on Critel’s research by examining what college-level writing teachers expect, require, and/or access is “intellectual participation” in the classroom (how it looks, feels, and sounds). Through their work, we find that participation perceptions are a little different for everyone based on the senses. In order to approach participation from an assessment standpoint, instructors should apply a standardized rubric for assessment, while also paying attention to the words used to describe. As Ryan Omizo points out, even the most mundane language can have a significant impact on how people recognize what’s expected of them.

Editors’ Reflection

When I started my doctoral work at Ohio State, Genevieve Critel (Gen) was in the first class I attended. It was a seminar in literacy studies, with Dr. Beverly Moss as our professor. The topic was “Race and Literacy,” and we spent the semester reading work that felt daunting to me—canonical critical race theory mixed with very recent book-length studies of literacy and race written by scholars in rhetoric and composition. It was an amazing class, which I knew at the the time I was taking it, but I see now even more in retrospect.

When I took the class, first-semester graduate student that I was, I was intimidated by new material that felt “out of my league”; haunted by imposter syndrome (did they really mean to admit me?); and my struggles with anxiety were at an all-time high as I tried to prove that I “fit” in the program. At this point, it probably seems like I should tell a story about how Gen made me feel like I did indeed “fit,” or how she supported me and made the space feel more inclusive. Because, without a doubt, Gen did those things many, many times for me. She helped me know I could participate, too, because I was a valuable voice in the field, a valuable colleague, a valuable person.

But that is not the story I need to tell. I want to tell a story that is important because it is about a time when Gen forced me to be uncomfortable; a time when she asked me to sit and dwell in my own identity and assumptions, my own privilege. (Though I am not sure I would have known to use that word, privilege, at the time.) So this is a participation story that is not warm and fuzzy, but it is a crucial one because Gen always challenged me. And I hope the legacy of her work challenges readers, too.


Before class one day, some of us were casually talking to Professor Moss about teaching and our students, lamenting moments when they did not listen, when they appeared disrespectful or surly, or moments when we felt, simply, like we were failing to engage them. Professor Moss—who is, might I add, a master of quiet but powerful leadership in the classroom, always listening, always guiding, but often with few words—made a comment about a recent struggle she had faced with an undergraduate student. The details of her story I no longer quite recall, but it was something common, and she explained the issue with her student sensitively and respectfully.

Rather than thanking Professor Moss for her openness and guidance, or acknowledging her struggle, I instead rushed to show some sort of mastery myself, to be “right” during a time when I often felt not good enough. I replied, “Huh, I never have that issue in my class. Students never do that with me.”

It was a small comment, nothing important or interesting. One I would easily forget today because it really was not worth responding to, except that Gen did indeed respond. She said, “Well, Lauren, do you think maybe it might be different for you as a teacher because you’re a white woman?”

I don’t remember how I replied. I think I likely did not reply at all, eager to move on, eager to not talk about race and racism (even, yes, in a class where it was at the very center), eager to leave unacknowledged how uncritical I had been about my own whiteness at that time. (I still cringe now, recalling this moment.)


One of Gen’s participation commonplaces that emerged from her dissertation was embodiment. When I think of this commonplace, the short version that pops into my head is “who we are is how we participate.” I didn’t see it back then, but what I can understand now is that Gen was asking me to reflect critically on who I was and how that shaped my participation—as a teacher and as a student in a Race and Literacy seminar, with a well-known African-American professor.She was asking me to reckon with my own white embodiment, in a way that I had not known how to do before I began my doctoral work, or, in fact, why doing so was so very necessary.

This moment also laid the groundwork for my own evolving understanding of participation as something that will not always feel good, successful, or comfortable. Participation is a work-in-progress, a moving target, and a lived experience, and, accordingly, it is sometimes messy, awkward, and discomforting. Gen’s question rings in my ears even now because it pushes me to rhetorically listen—that is to slow down, center difference, and reflect and revise my perspective—with my colleagues and my students, even (and perhaps especially) when I would rather avoid such challenges.

- Lauren E. Obermark

Page 3 of 12 (47 total entries)