Author: Stephanie Larson


Stephanie R. Larson is a PhD candidate in Composition and Rhetoric in the department of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the current Assistant Director of the First-Year Writing Program.

As co-assistant directors of the first-year writing program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, we have been privy to the various challenges faced by composition instructors since the election. In recent months, instructors at UW-Madison have expressed anxiety about providing a safe classroom space for all students; navigating students’ assumptions about the political leanings and motivations of the university; inviting balanced, nuanced, and rigorous discussions about information literacy, credibility, fact, and truth in the classroom; framing lesson plans and larger sequence assignments around information literacy as a key focus; and encouraging critical thinking about the digital landscapes in which students encounter…

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What happens when public writing assignments get too public?  This question surfaces each time I teach the final sequence of an intermediate writing course where students are asked to engage with writing in public while experimenting with mode. For many students, the thought of entering in and engaging with a public is intimidating, where students learn quite quickly that such rhetorical activity is unstable, temporary, and even volatile. A feeling of publicness—exposure to and within one’s community—rouses rhetorical concerns for how students access a particular audience, which calls them to think about modes. In particular, students must consider which mode meets the…

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