Top Banner

Click here to load reader

Writing across the Curriculum/Writing in the Disciplines ... · PDF file Writing across the Curriculum/Writing in the Disciplines Definition Importance to the Field Resources Writing

May 23, 2020




  • Defi nition

    Some might say that the rhetorical situation, an expression coined by Lloyd Bitzer, is the most important concept in writing.

    According to Bitzer, all writing occurs within a rhetorical situation, and every rhe- torical situation has three components.

    First, a rhetorical situation includes what he calls an “exigence,” or occasion for writing. More specifi cally, such an occasion carries with it both a sense of urgency and a promise that through writing, a composer can make a change to that situation.

    Second (and while it may seem obvi- ous), a rhetorical situation includes an audi- ence that can be infl uenced by or react to the writing.

    Rhetorical Situation

    Third, a rhetorical situation by defi ni- tion has constraints, and they come in two forms. An author may bring certain con- straints to the writing, for example certain beliefs that infl uence how the author under- stands a given issue. Likewise, there are con- straints associated with the situation itself, for instance the frame of mind of the audi- ence or the environment in which they hear or read a text. Both of these constraints are part of the rhetorical situation because they can infl uence audience response and the po- tential of the writer to make change.

    Importance in the Field

    Although scholars disagree on which comes fi rst—the writing or the rhetorical situation— they agree that effective writers use the con- cept of the rhetorical situation throughout their composing processes. They use it as a way to frame a writing task, for example. And they use it as they compose, to be sure that their writing keeps its intended focus.

    In sum, the rhetorical situation is the situation in which we all write—be it a text message; a resume; or a research project and poster.


    Enos, Richard Leo. “The History of Rhetoric.” Coming of Age: The Advanced Writing Cur- riculum. Ed. Linda K. Shamoon, Rebecca Moore Howard, Sandra Jamieson, and Robert Schwegler. Portsmouth: Boynton/Cook, 2000. 81–86. Print.

    Lowe, Kelly. “Against the Writing Major.” Com- position Studies 35.1 (2007): 97–98. Print.

    Lunsford, Andrea A. “The Future of Writing Programs—and WPAs.” Plenary Address. Conference of the Council of WPA. Grand Hyatt, Denver. 10 July 2008. Address.


    Composer Audience


    Text, Genre, Medium

    College Composition and Communication


    PosterPage_100026.indd 1 12/23/2009 11:17:15 AM

    Writing across the Curriculum/Writing in the Disciplines


    Importance to the Field

    Resources Writing takes place in a community, and on college campuses we have many kinds of community, which tend to be organized into programs, departments, fields, or disciplines. Each of these includes its own writing processes as well as its own genres. Given this situation, it’s impossible for any writing course—including first-year com- position—to prepare students for all the writing they will need to do, and do well, in college. Thus, it wasn’t surprising that in the 1960s and 1970s, an educational effort called Writing across the Curriculum developed. Writing across the Curriculum—or WAC, as it’s often called now—emphasizes the role that writing can play in learning, whether it’s keeping a journal, annotating a text, making field notes, or reflecting on what we have learned. Later, programs more targeted to writing inside specific disciplines have developed. Writing in the Disciplines—or WID—helps students behave as apprentice writers in that discipline, be it civil engineer- ing, sociology, or dance.

    Many colleges and universities offer WAC, WID, or WAC/WID programs supporting students’ development in writing. Even in- stitutions that don’t offer a formal program, however, often include writing to learn ac- tivities as well as support for writing inside the discipline. And we know that this kind of progression is critical for students’ writ- ing development.

    Carter, Michael. “Ways of Knowing, Doing, and Writing in the Disciplines.” College Composition and Com- munication 58.3 (2007): 385–418. Print.

    Herrington, Anne, and Charles Moran, eds. Genre across the Curriculum. Logan: Utah State UP, 2005. Print.

    McLeod, Susan H., Eric Miraglia, Margot Soven, and Christopher Thaiss. WAC for the New Millennium: Strategies for Continuing Writing across the Curricu- lum Programs. Urbana: NCTE, 2001. Print. Available at

    Reiss, Donna, Dickie Selfe, and Art Young, eds. Elec- tronic Communication across the Curriculum. Urbana: NCTE, 1998. Print.

    Russell, David R. Writing in the Academic Disciplines: A Curricular History. 2nd ed. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 2002. Print.

    Thaiss, Chris, and Tara Porter. “The State of WAC/WID in 2010: Methods and Results of the U.S. Survey of the International WAC/WID Mapping Project.” Col- lege Composition and Communication 61.3 (2010): 534–70. Print.

    k580-589-Feb13-CCC.indd 580 1/30/13 3:09 PM

    selson Text Box Copyright © 2013 by the National Council of Teachers of English. All rights reserved.

Welcome message from author
This document is posted to help you gain knowledge. Please leave a comment to let me know what you think about it! Share it to your friends and learn new things together.