Editor’s note

Susanne Hall


Editor’s Note

I am delighted to share issue 4.2 of Prompt with readers. I expect that a wide variety of teachers of college writing will be inspired by the first three assignments presented in this issue, each of which observes a challenge of teaching writing and proposes an innovative writing assignment that cleverly addresses those challenges. Our final assignment will be of interest to both instructors in museum studies as well as to those who are more generally interested in engaging students in critical, cultural experiences in their communities.

In “Writing a Videogame: Rhetoric, Revision, and Reflection,” instructor Kendall Gerdes and students Melissa Beal and Sean Cain share their experiences with an assignment that teaches rhetoric and the writing process in an exciting way–by having students design a text-based videogame. Gerdes developed this assignment, and Beal and Cain contribute reflections on their experiences composing the games in Gerdes’s course. The course ends with an in-class arcade where students play one another’s games–a fun payoff for an assignment with serious outcomes.

Lance Langdon and Jens Lloyd leave the virtual world behind and head outdoors in “Walk Local, Argue Local: A Campus-Based Prompt for a Basic Writing Course.” Drawing on published writing about the campus of the University of California, Irvine, this assignment allows students to make arguments by drawing on evidence from their personal experiences with the campus architecture and green space. The authors suggest this assignment, which includes a group exploration of the campus, opens up a particularly productive entry-point to academic writing for college writers who might otherwise have some trepidation about making arguments that challenge those made by experienced, published writers.

In “Assessing, Deliberating, Responding: An Annotated Bibliography for a Post-Truth Age,” Jacob Richter reimagines the oft-assigned annotated bibliography for our complexly mediated moment. Richter explains his interest in revising the annotated bibliography so it becomes an occasion to explore and reflect critically upon students’ “lived information cultures.” In addition to reviewing scholarly writing on a topic of interest, students must also annotate forms of communication that are common in our lives but are less so in writing classrooms. Some of their selections include Twitch video game streams, bumper stickers, overheard conversations, and graffiti.

Like Langdon and Lloyd, Rachael Zeleny takes her students out of the classroom, but instead of walking around campus, they head for local museums. Most fundamentally, this assignment invites students into museums in their community that many have never visited. Further, it invites them into active dialog with curators and exhibits, encouraging students to think critically about how museums handle issues of diversity, accessibility, and public engagement.

Looking ahead, the next issue of Prompt will be part one of a set of two special issues focused on writing assignments related to social justice. Both issues 5.1 and 6.1 will provide a rich array of assignments and reflective essays interested in social justice from diverse perspectives and with different disciplinary contexts.