Thank you so much for undertaking this!
I have just one suggestion-- more and more often our field has been
called Writing Studies. Perhaps we could use this term in the response.
The first sentence in the sixth paragraph ends with a parenthesis:
> A related clarification hopposed to writing across the curriculum.)
I don't think it's needed there.
Natasha Artemeva, Ph. D.
School of Linguistics and
Applied Language Studies
1125 Colonel By Drive
Tel.+1 (613) 520-2600 ext.7452
Fax +1 (613) 520-6641
E-mail: [log in to unmask]
Susan Drain wrote:
> *** WARNING LONG POST: CASLL LISTSERV DOESN'T ALLOW ATTACHMENTS. I have
> put it on the wikispace, though, as well as pasted it below. ***
> Dear all,
> Let me preface this by saying this is a very odd collaboration -- and I
> will not be at all insulted is this draft is not at all what you want to
> represent us. Because it's going to UA, I've made some voice (ethos)
> choices that may be very different from what others would do ... but let
> me know if this is of any use to the process of responding to the
> I have found the responses on the listserv really helpful in terms both
> of substance and of approach.
> Enough preamble.
> Here beginneth the draft:
> Those of us in the scholarly field of writing are delighted to find a
> positive response to the question “Who cares about writing, anyway?”
> (University Affairs, April 2008) We are more used to complaints about
> our students’ deficiencies, and faint hopes that someone somewhere (the
> schools? the writing centre? the English department? divine
> intervention?) will rid the university of the plague of error, the
> distraction of disorganization, the scourge of non-standard usage, oh,
> and while we’re at it, could we solve the problem of plagiarism, too?
> [Quotation here from one of those lovely 19th c documents?]
> So it’s a delight to read Sunny Marche, on the need for commitment to
> writing in our universities, and not only because his writing has energy
> and style. (Love the anaphora in the first paragraph! Great use of
> rhetorical questions. Excellent personal details to make the
> generalizations vivid.) There’s also so much with which we concur.
> Writing matters for most professions. Writing matters even in a digital
> age. Writing is not an all-or-nothing mysterious gift – it can be
> taught and it can be learned. University faculty are all writers.
> But University faculty are not all writing scholars. And just as we
> wouldn’t dream of teaching marketing, even though we know something
> about marketing because we are consumers, so we scholars of writing
> would like to clarify some points in Sunny Marche’s piece. These
> clarifications will help make our ongoing conversations with colleagues
> like Sunny more productive. We will be brief and selective.
> “Writing” is a poor label for the complex of processes that we
> understand. The one word is used to include everything from recognizing
> the first glimmer of an idea, through the hard slog of researching and
> assembling evidence and drafting to the shaping that we call revision
> and the fine-tuning we call editing. It’s not one thing, and it’s not
> an adjunct to other disciplines. A discipline is defined, after all,
> not by its subject matter alone, but by the characteristic thinking and
> writing processes by which knowledge is constructed and communicated in
> that field. So hurrah for marketing professors who care about how
> writing is used in the study of marketing, and for math professors, who
> see that writing can be used to solve problems, even those usually
> expressed in symbols.
> That brings us to our second point of clarification. If we agree (and
> we do) that writing needs practice and that writing matters in every
> discipline, then we agree that writing across the curriculum is a good
> way to ensure that students do get writing practice and do see that
> writing matters in all their courses. That doesn’t mean that writing
> must assigned across the curriculum in order to be evaluated: no,
> writing must be used to serve the purposes of learning across the
> curriculum. When we encourage writing across the curriculum, we
> encourage our colleagues to assign journals and reflection pieces,
> on-line discussions or in-class responses, to give practice in
> uncovering and articulating ideas. “How do our students know what they
> think till they see what they say?” And they are less likely to be
> thinking if their only writing in a course is taking lecture notes – and
> even less if they are downloading webnotes or podcasts.
> A related clarification hopposed to writing across the curriculum.) Writing differs from
> discipline to discipline, because writing is so connected to thinking.
> Sociology handles evidence differently from, say, history, and in every
> discipline various writing genres and conventions have been developed to
> suit the intellectual needs of the discipline. We writing scholars are
> quite modest, really. We know that we’re not the best people to teach
> apprentice sociologists or historians how to write sociology or history.
> And that’s also why requiring a writing course – whether it’s a
> first-year comp or English 1000 or a writing intensive course – does not
> meet that need. Expecting students to transfer what they learn about
> writing from such courses to the rest of their academic career is like
> expecting the child who can ride her tricycle down the sidewalk to be
> able to pass her driving test without further instruction or practice.
> It’s the sociologists and the historians (and the marketing profs and
> the chemists and the ...) who know how writing works in their
> disciplines. They also know how long it took for them to learn how to
> do it. The commitment to writing therefore needs to be not only across
> the curriculum but in the disciplines.
> But English is my second language, one sociologist says. And I don’t do
> grammar, says the historian. Well, says the writing scholar, paying
> attention to surface correctness is not what we mean when we say writing
> needs to be learned in the discipline as part of the discipline. And
> when students understand what they are supposed to be doing
> intellectually when they’re writing – how the discourse works and sounds
> – many of the surface problems disappear. Explicit knowledge of
> grammar, we know, does not readily translate into effective writing. In
> fact, what are often called “grammar problems” are the symptoms, not the
> cause, of ineffective writing.
> Here endeth the beginning.
> Susan Drain, PhD
> Department of English
> Mount Saint Vincent University
> Halifax, NS Canada B3M 2J6
> 902 457 6220
> [log in to unmask]
> This communication, including any attached documentation, is intended only for the person or entity to which it is addressed, and may contain confidential, personal, and/or privileged information. Any unauthorized disclosure, copying, or taking action on the contents is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please contact us immediately so we may correct our records.
> Please then delete or destroy the original transmission and any subsequent reply.
> Thank you.
> To leave the list, send a SIGNOFF CASLL command to
> [log in to unmask] or, if you experience difficulties,
> write to Russ Hunt at [log in to unmask]
> For the list archives and information about the organization,
> its newsletter, and the annual conference, go to
To leave the list, send a SIGNOFF CASLL command to
[log in to unmask] or, if you experience difficulties,
write to Russ Hunt at [log in to unmask]
For the list archives and information about the organization,
its newsletter, and the annual conference, go to