Building upon work first begun in her dissertation, "Investigating the Rhetoric of Student Participation: Uncovering and Historicizing Commonplaces in Composition Studies," this collection, The Rhetoric of Participation: Interrogating Commonplaces In and Beyond the Classroom, memorializes and extends the research and legacy of Dr. Genevieve Critel. In her dissertation, Critel researched the perceived functions of and discourses surrounding the notion of participation in the composition classroom—specifically, the uses of participation as an assessed category. The exigency for Critel’s work was 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 disciplines. Little research in composition beyond Critel’s dissertation has interrogated the commonplace practice of participation as an assessed category.

Critel’s research—and her legacy as a scholar, educator, and colleague—form the foundations for this collection. This collection presents the perspectives of twenty scholars and educators in the fields of rhetoric and composition, all of whom engage with the question, what does it mean to participate? With discussions ranging from classroom-participation models to participation in online spaces, this collection explores the multifaceted and complex nature of participation, while demonstrating the ongoing necessity for research and theorization of this pedagogical commonplace. Pieces in this collection touch on numerous issues related to participation, including students’ perspectives on participation as an assessed category, how normative standards dictate and shape participation and how these standards can be productively challenged, and new ways to engage with the idea of participation, within the classroom and beyond it.


In our efforts to expand upon Critel’s work on the subject, we developed this digital collection to enact many of the participatory commonplaces that she discussed. We asked contributors to consider how technology, embodiment, community, and assessment not only could inspire the content of their pieces but also the form and function of those pieces. In collaboration with our contributors, we were able to develop a digital project that recognizes the many facets of participation and more fully represents the range of these complexities. From chapters featuring audio and video of students discussing their experiences with participation to chapters offering digital appendices to provide resources to readers, this digital collection embodies multiple perspectives and approaches to issues of participation in ways that encourage reader engagement through multiple modes and from multiple perspectives.

In terms of our practical design process, we gave authors the option to use a pre-formatted HTML and CSS shell for their chapters or create their own themes. Consequently, this collection features an eclectic mix of voices, articulated by multiple Web-design perspectives.

Assembling diverse designs did complicate the global styles of the collection. As we tried to manage the multiple-user experiences and wayfinding needs, we sought out frameworks that have demonstrated success and sustainability in the field of digital publishing in the humanities. Our main inspiration for our global framework are the 2012 and 2016 editions of Debates in Digital Humanities. Specifically, we modeled the information architecture and user interface elements of The Rhetoric of Participation on those found in Debates in Digital Humanities. This includes the top level menu and the "Table of Contents" menu that contain paths to each chapter in the collection.

Our designs also benefit from comments from several rounds of peer review. We thank our reviewers for providing feedback on issues large (book navigation and in-page wayfinding) and small (click usability).

Lastly, the design decisions deployed in this collection are also influenced by our iterative work with our contributors. Their compositions, feedback, and general creativity have guided our efforts to create a useable and useful digital collection.


This edited collection is dedicated to Dr. Genevieve M. Critel, whose thoughtful scholarship, loving character, and dedicated nature inspired all of us. As a teacher, Gen motivated us to think more rigorously about how and why we approach issues like participation in our classroom. As a scholar, Gen encouraged us to ask questions of our practice, thinking critically about even the mundane. As an incredible human being, Gen inspired us through her love, generosity of spirit, and gentle, calm, yet incisively witty, demeanor. Gen is loved and missed every day by her family, friends, and colleagues. We hope this collection is a testament to her enduring influence—as a scholar, a teacher, and a person.

Front Matter


The editors would like to thank all of the contributors to this collection. Your ideas, research, and willingness to participate have made this collection possible. Each of you have contributed excellent insights into the role and nature of participation, taking Genevieve's work in new, exciting directions. We thank you, as well, for your hard work and patience on this collection, as we all strove to make it as perfect as possible. We also thank the editors and staff at CCDP. Our many thanks to Cindy Selfe for meeting with us for brunch as we proposed the idea of creating a collection from Gen's work; to Gail Hawisher and Patrick Berry for facilitating and providing feedback throughout the process; to Dànielle DeVoss for her expert advice and incisive feedback during the final stages of this project; and to Tim Lockridge for providing guidance on the technological logistics of working with CCDP. We also express our deep gratitude to the reviewers of this text whose feedback has helped to perfect it and to Kami Day who generously donated her copy-editing services to this project.

Finally, we must acknowledge our dearly missed friend, Gen. This project has been a labor of love motivated by what one contributor has described in conversation as the “extra pressure—positive, but real—that comes from trying to live up to Gen's awesomeness[.]” Our hope is that this book realizes the potential we all recognized in Genevieve’s scholarship and teaching. And like Gen—a consummate compositionist whose scholarship always brought us back to practice—we hope that the pieces in this collection inspire our readers to interrogate their own practices as teachers and scholars.

Citation Information

Citation information for the collection as a whole:


Banaji, P. V., Blankenship L., DeLuca, K., Obermark L. & Omizo, R. (Eds.). (2019). The rhetoric of participation: Interrogating commonplaces in and beyond the classroom. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State University Press. Retrieved from http://ccdigitalpress.org/rhetoric-of-participation.


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

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