Writing as Inquiry (Sanders, N.)


Name: Nick Sanders

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Date published: 2021

Course level: First-Year

Course title: Writing as Inquiry: “Writing Selves/Writing Futures: Language, Power, & Socialization

Course description: This section titled “Writing Selves/ Writing Futures: Language, Power, & Socialization” critically interrogates the intersections among our individual literate histories and socializations– how we were taught what “good” or “bad” writing and language use is– and power– how these socializations reflect much larger and complex participation in cultural systems of power, including class, race, gender, disability, sexuality, and location and so on. Thus, we follow Audre Lorde’s call and critique about the power of language and the possibility of speaking silence into language and action. Taken differently, Lorde compels us to deeply understand and critique the social systems that constrain and afford our learning, practice intimate reflection around our goals, values, and practices (in Lorde’s words “what you need to say,”) and, always practice language and writing as anything but mundane but an avenue for social, personal, and cultural change. In addition to the core practices of reflection, revision, and inquiry, this course also centers criticality, developing theories, practices, and analysis that work to understand how social systems shape and are shaped by individual people, their beliefs, and their values.

Course philosophy/motivation: “Framed by Black, queer feminist orientations to education as the practice of freedom, my teaching philosophy positions the classroom not as a place of arrival, but one of departure and worldmaking. I see the classroom as a site where we can interrogate our positionalities and cultivate critical consciousness about our participation in social systems in order to dismantle and disrupt them. For me, writing is central to this mission as the world, and ourselves, have been unfairly written, and we must rewrite these stories and structures to redress harm. Heavily influenced by critical antiracist and feminist pedagogies, antideficit frameworks, and multimodal writing pedagogies, my teaching ultimately works to challenge the everyday practices that sustain inequity, including assessments that prioritize the linguistic and rhetorical practices of middle and upper class whiteness. To combat these autonomous views of learning, I structure moments of curiosity and inquiry and moments of reflection throughout my courses to invite students to problematize their understanding of course material and their own experiences and practices. Further, I am intentional to create feedback loops that work to challenge students’ preconceived understandings and to discover new ways of understanding the world in order to meaningfully change it.”

Cite as: Sanders, N., Writing as Inquiry – “Writing Selves/Writing Futures: Language, Power, & Socialization, July, 2021,  Gayle Morris Sweetland Digital Rhetoric Collaborative.

About Author

Nupoor Ranade

Nupoor is a PhD Candidate in the Communication, Rhetoric and Digital Media at the North Carolina State University. Her research focuses on audience analysis, digital rhetoric, user experience and information design primarily in the field of technical communication and artificial intelligence. Her research experience and partnerships with the industry help her bridge gaps of knowledge that she then brings to her pedagogical practices.

Jianfen Chen

Jianfen Chen is a PhD student in Rhetoric and Composition at Purdue. Her research interests include public rhetoric, digital rhetoric, risk communication, intercultural communication, and professional and technical communication.

Sarah Hughes

Sarah Hughes is a PhD candidate in the Joint Program in English & Education at the University of Michigan, where she also teaches in the English Department Writing Program. Her research interests include digital rhetoric, gender and discourse, and gaming studies. Her dissertation project explores how women use multimodal discourse—grammatically, narratively, and visually—to navigate online gaming ecologies.