Editor’s note

Susanne Hall


Abstract: Authors in issue 4.1 of Prompt share a notably diverse group of writing assignments from various disciplines.

Editor’s Note

It is my pleasure to introduce issue 4.1 of Prompt, which includes a notably diverse group of writing assignments from various disciplines that all involve making texts come alive in some way—whether through creating texts for public audiences, exploring the ways a text can be brought off the page in a performance, or in exploring physical spaces as texts that can be read.

The first article in this issue comes from collaborators at Auburn University who have designed a writing in the disciplines assignment for a biology course. In “Repurposing Scientific Writing in Conservation Biology,” Robert Boyd, Christopher Basgier, and Claire Wilson reflect on an assignment that asks students to write about a rare species in Alabama for two different audiences—a webpage for experts, and an encyclopedia entry for non-experts. This assignment offers a thoughtful approach to teaching how scientific writers use different genres to reach different audiences.

Robert Chao engages students in critical rhetorical analysis outside the classroom in “Analyzing Physical Spaces as a Means of Understanding Rhetoric.” This assignment asks students to identify and explore a “privately owned public space” (POPS). Students are asked to analyze the design, texts, and accessibility of the POPS as a way of learning about how physical environments shape human thinking and behavior. These explorations led to a claim-driven presentation in class about the analysis.

In “The Opinion Podcast: A Visceral Form of Persuasion,” Alison Klein describes a podcast assignment given in a first-year writing course. Klein uses the podcast to teach students about making and supporting arguments, with a particular emphasis on learning to think about audience during the composing process. Her essay makes a compelling case for the teaching of aural composition in the first-year writing classroom.

In her literature class, Alyse Knorr transforms students into directors in “Staging Othello: Turning Students into Directors.” Students imagine themselves as directors of a film or stage performance of Shakespeare’s Othello and write a production proposal for their imagined adaptation. Students also compose a movie or play poster. These textual and visual compositions invite students to approach plays as living texts and give new stakes to students’ interpretations of Othello.

In her essay, “Analyzing a Memoir of Disability: Utilizing a Group Writing Assignment to Increase Applicability and Comprehension of Course Material,” Meghan Owenz shows readers how the idea of a “book club” created a context in her classroom for engaged reading of book-length disability memoirs. Students tied the memoirs to conceptual learning they were doing in the class, which put the textbook in dialogue with the memoir. This collaborative reading project led to formal, group-authored papers. Owenz reports that this approach to teaching students about disability and culture led to engaged discussions as well as richer understandings of material being presented through a textbook.

While putting this issue together, I have enjoyed hearing from a number of colleagues in WAC/WID programs about the ways they are using assignment from Prompt as a part of faculty development. It is a thrill to learn about the specific ways these assignments and essays are circulating. If you have made use of work from our journal in such a context, our editorial team would love to hear about it. And if you would be interested in writing about such an experience for the journal, we are willing to be pitched on such an essay. You can reach our editorial team at thepromptjournal@gmail.com.