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Writing About Writing (WAW) for WRI 1/10

Library resources and perspectives for Writing about Writing (WAW)

Disciplines Have Conversations

All disciplines have conversations, and those conversations can even cross disciplines. 

Some of these conversations may take the form of a public debate but often these conversations are woven through scholarly work -- such as journal articles and books -- as researchers refer to, respond to, and build on the work of others. Additionally, these scholarly conversations can take place in less formal forms of writing (e.g. blog posting) or through presentations (e.g. conference talk). 

conversation bubbles graphic

For an example of a scholarly conversation, consider composition scholars Peter Elbow and David Bartholomae who discussed different approaches and emphases (personal and academic writing) for basic writers in the late 1980s and 1990s. 

  • Their ongoing scholarly conversation is often referred to as the Elbow/Bartholomae debate as they made different claims as to how college students should be trained in writing at the undergraduate level.
  • If you are studying composition and writing, you will be likely to come across their names and their work in your studies.
  • See a sample from this conversation in "Responses to Bartholomae and Elbow" (1995). VPN required to access article.

network of people

from GJD @ Pixabay

Note: Some of the articles or books require the VPN in order to access.

To Do: Skim the following article titles, especially one through nine. 

Question: What words or phrases appear most often?  What seems to be the key topic of conversation?

The repeated use of these words or phrases suggest that these articles are in conversation with each other -- responding to and building on each other's work.


1. Downs, Douglas; Elizabeth Wardle (2007). "Teaching About Writing, Righting Misconceptions: (Re)Envisioning 'First Year Composition' as 'Introduction to Writing Studies'." College Composition and Communication. 58 (4): 552–584.

2. Kutney, Joshua P. (2007). "Will Writing Awareness Transfer to Writing Performance? Response to Douglas Downs and Elizabeth Wardle, 'Teaching about Writing, Righting Misconceptions'." College Composition and Communication. 59 (2): 276–279.

3. Miles, Libby; et al. (2008). "Interchanges: Commenting on Douglas Downs and Elizabeth Wardle's 'Teaching about Writing, Righting Misconceptions'." College Composition and Communication. 59 (3): 503–511.

4. Bird, Barbara. “Writing about Writing as the Heart of a Writing Studies Approach to FYC: Responses to Douglas Downs and Elizabeth Wardle, ‘Teaching about Writing, Righting Misconceptions and to Libby Miles et. al., ‘Thinking Vertically’.” College Composition and Communication. 60 (1): 165-171.

5. Downs, Douglas (2008). "Response to Miles et al." College Composition and Communication. 60 (1): 175–181.

6. Wardle, Elizabeth (2008). "Continuing the Dialogue: Follow-up Comments on 'Teaching About Writing, Righting Misconceptions'." College Composition and Communication. 60 (1): 175–181.

7. Slomp, David H.; M. Elizabeth Sargent (2009). "Responses to Responses: Douglas Downs and Elizabeth Wardle's 'Teaching about Writing, Righting Misconceptions'." College Composition and Communication. 60 (3): 171–175.

8. Carter, Shannon (2009/2010). "Writing about Writing in Basic Writing: A Teacher/Researcher/Activist Narrative." Basic Writing e-journal. 8–9.

9. Wardle, Elizabeth. “’Mutt Genres’ and the Goal of FYC: Can We Help Students Write the Genres of the University?” College Composition and Communication 60:4 (2009): 765-789.

10. Charlton, Jonkka (2009/2010). "Seeing is Believing: Writing Studies with 'Basic Writing' Students." Basic Writing Online. 8/9.

11. Bird, Barbara. (2009/2010) “Meaning-Making Concepts: Basic Writer’s Access to Verbal Culture.” Basic Writing Online 8/9.

12. Fraizer, Dan. “First Steps Beyond First Year: Coaching Transfer After FYC.” WPA: Writing Program Administration 33.3 (spring 2010): 34-57.

13. Adler-Kassner, Linda. Majewski, John. Koshnick, Damian. “The Value of Troublesome Knowledge: Transfer and Threshold Concepts in Writing and History.” Composition Forum 26, Fall 2012.

14. Downs, Doug and Wardle, Elizabeth. “Reflecting Back and Looking Forward: Revisiting ‘Teaching about Writing, Righting Misconceptions’ Five Years On.” Composition Forum 27 (spring 2013)

15. Gogan, Brian. (2013, December 11). Reading at the Threshold. Across the Disciplines, 10(4).

16. McCracken, Moriah and Valerie A. Ortiz. “Latino/a Student (Efficacy) Expectations: Reacting and Adjusting to a Writing-about-Writing Curriculum Change at an Hispanic Serving Institution.” Composition Forum 27 (spring 2013)

17. Adler-Kassner, Linda. Irene Clark, Liane Robertson, Kara Taczak, Kathleen Blake Yancey. “Assembling Knowledge: The Role of Threshold Concepts in Facilitating  Transfer.” Critical Transitions: Writing and the Question of Transfer (eds.) Chris Anson and Jessie L Moore. WAC Clearinghouse and University Press of Colorado, 2016.

18. Yancey, Kathleen Blake. Liane Robertson, & Kara Taczak. Writing Across Contexts: Transfer, Composition, and Sites of Writing (2014). Utah State University Press.

19. Blaauw-Hara, Mark. “Transfer Theory, Threshold Concepts, and First-Year Composition: Connecting Writing Courses to the Rest of the College.” Teaching English in the Two-Year College May (2014) 354-365.

20. Wolfe, Joanna. Olson, Barrie. And Laura Wilder. “Knowing What We Know about Writing in the Disciplines: A New Approach to Teaching for Transfer in FYC.” The WAC Journal. vol. 25, fall 2014. 42-77.

21. Adler-Kassner, Linda. Elizabeth Wardle (eds.) Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies, Utah State University Press, 2015. (with classroom edition 2016)

22. Anderson, Paul. Anson, Chris. Gonyea, Robert. Paine, Charles. “How to Create High-Impact Writing Assignments that Enhance Learning and Development and Reinvigorate WAC/WID Programs: What Almost 72,000 Undergraduates Taught Us” Across the Disciplines Special Issue WAC and High-Impact Practices, vol. 13, iss. 4, 2016.

23. Downs, Douglas; Elizabeth Wardle. Writing about Writing: A College Reader 3rd ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2017. [not available at UC Merced]

24. Bird, Barbara. Doug Downs, I. Moriah McCracken, and Jan Rieman. Next Steps: New Directions for/in Writing about Writing.  Utah State University Press, 2019.

As a student, you will be joining the scholarly conversation with your own work.  Consider how to get started with this video.


  1. Fill in the Blank: An academic conversation is like a conversation with ______________ on your topic.
  2. What does the video compare a scholarly conversation to?  How are they similar?
  3. Scholarly conversations are short and simple.  True or False?
  4. What strategies do you need to take to become part of the scholarly conversation?

Clemson Libraries (1:12)

Finding Academic Conversations

Discover how articles are connected to each other. Use this information to save time when you research.  (1:44)


  1. What key strategy is given for locating additional articles? P.S. It is related to backward networking.

Proceed to "Article Networks in Google Scholar" -- on the next tab -- to discover one way you can use forward networks.

Discover how to connect to forward article networks (Cited By information) in Google Scholar.  Also used Related Articles links to find relevant resources. (1:38)


  1. What two links can you use in Google Scholar to locate articles that may be connected to each other?