State of the Field – Comp/Rhet (specifically second language writing, digital writing / multimodal composition)

By: Lindsey Albracht


  • Computers and Composition- This journal, which began as a newsletter in 1983, initially featured the work of scholars who attempted to situate computer work within a classroom context. This is largely still the case, though as the journal has expanded, the articles have grown longer, taken on a more scholarly tone, and focused less primarily on the practical use of computers within a classroom context and more on the praxis of computer use within the wider field.
  • College Composition and Communication – According to the submission guidelines, this journal “invites submission of research and scholarship in composition studies that supports college teachers in reflecting on and improving their practices in teaching writing.” While it isn’t critical that Cs articles are explicit classroom “how-to” guides, the content of these articles should be immediately related to teaching.
  • Journal of Second Language Writing – The title of this journal is fairly descriptive of its content, but basically, this journal features articles that discuss current issues related to second-language writing. The submission guidelines state that the journal is particularly interested in contributions that focus on “personal characteristics and attitudes of L2 writers, L2 writers’ composing processes, features of L2 writers’ texts, readers’ responses to L2 writing, assessment / evaluation of L2 writing, contexts (cultural, social, political, institutional) for L2 writing, and any other topic clearly relevant to L2 writing, theory, research, or instruction.”
  • College English – Another journal which is specifically targeted to and which particularly solicits submissions from “scholar-teachers,” College English strikes me as slightly more interdisciplinary than Cs (which is also affiliated with the organization NCTE, or National Council of Teachers of English). The submissions can focus on literature, comp/rhet, theory, pedagogy, linguistics, and other issues related to the teaching of English.
  • TESOL Quarterly – This journal is interested in many of the same issues that interest the audience of Journal of Second-Language Writing, but it doesn’t solely focus on writing. Rather, TESOL Quarterly would be read by linguists, teachers, teacher educators, researchers, and other people in the field who are interested in research related to work with multilingual students.

Books published in the last two years:

  • de Oliveira, Luciana C. and Tony Silva. L2 Writing in Secondary Classrooms: Student Experiences, Academic Issues, and Teacher Education. New York: Routledge, 2013. Print.   Though this book is primarily for teachers / administrators / policy makers / researchers who work with secondary students (rather than students in higher ed), it stresses the lack of emphasis that current secondary curriculum places on the teaching of writing. The collection is co-edited by Tony Silva, who has done a lot of interesting work around second-language writing and writing program administration, and it might provide a helpful context to teachers of first-year composition (and those who study it).
  • Jordan, Jay. Redesigning Composition for Multilingual Realities. Urbana, Ill.: Conference on College Composition and Communication of the National Council of Teachers of English, 2012. Print.                                                                                                                              In this book, Jordan subverts traditional constructions of the multilingual learner to remind us that all students (and teachers) are operating within and between multiple, simultaneous, sometimes competitive literacies in composition classrooms. He also argues that second-language students, specifically, are positioned to “provide models for language uses as English continues to spread and change as an international lingua franca.”
  • Lutkewitte, Claire. Multimodal Composition: A Critical Sourcebook. Boston and New York: Bedford / St. Martin’s, 2013. Print.                                                                                    This book is part of the Bedford / St. Martin’s rhet/comp series, and it gives a practical grounding in what multimodal composition is and how it functions. It’s a guide to teaching multimodal composition but also to using it in the scholarly production of texts outside of the first-year comp classroom.

(Also, here’s a handy map of publishers that accept monographs in/around rhetoric and composition studies.)

Annual conferences:

  • Symposium on Second Language Writing -This is an annual international conference. Sometimes it’s in June, sometimes it’s in September, sometimes, it’s in October, etc. This year, it’s at Arizona State University, and it’s in November.

University press series:

Speaker series:

  • Florida State University Rhetoric and Composition Speaker Series
  • The Culbertson Speaker Series at Indiana University
  • Grassroots Writing Research Visiting Speaker Series at Illinois State University

Scholarly blogs:

Twitter accounts maintained by scholars in the field:

  • Kristen Arola — @kristenarola
  • Cheryl E. Ball — @s2ceball
  • Susan Miller-Cochran — @mediatedlife

Twitter accounts maintained by institutions related to the field:  

  • Composition Studies Journal — @CompStudiesJrnl
  • Computers & Writing — @candwcon