Linda Adler-Kassner and Elizabeth Wardle’s Naming What We Know establishes and contextualizes Writing Studies to establish what, in a sense, we may view as the building blocks of the discipline. Throughout my reading, I came across multiple threshold concepts that resonated with me in both a personal level regarding my own experience and growth as a writer, and on an interpersonal level relating to my pedagogical methods in the college classroom. Interestingly as I was taking notes on which tier that each threshold concept correlated with (self or student), multiple concepts intertwined between the two, influencing both my personal growth as a writer, as well as my teaching habits as an instructor.
One of the greatest concepts I learned as an entry-level English Literature student is that when we write scholarship on literature, it is a part of an ongoing conversation where each article influences one another in a type of “infinite” continuum that in reality, never ends. Thus, as literary scholars, we continue to grow and learn more and more from one another, in a sort of group effort towards a specific topic, theory, or text. Andrea Lunsford’s threshold concept 1.2, as well as Kevin Roozen’s 2.6 concept both resonate with this idea of an ongoing critical conversation and intertextuality within that conversation (20, 44). Extending off this, as you continue to write and situate yourself within these conversations, or even within your own work and writing style, you develop a sense of who you are as a writer in relation to others. This sense of self within the writing world stretches way beyond the genre of academic scholarship, but also genres such as fiction, creative nonfiction, blogs, and even note taking. The way we read other texts that influence our own writing, the diction we choose to write our work, and the way we organize our ideas into written form are all a part of our personal writing “selves.” This idea resonates with Roozen’s concept where the act of writing is “developing a sense of who we are” (51). Through writing, we can both situate ourselves in all types of writing, as well as understand the specific way we write in relation to other writers. Thus, as a result, Kathleen Blake Yancey’s concept becomes appropriate here, where, “each writer is unique” (52).
I cannot stress enough another of Yancey’s main ideas where “neither writers not their contexts are static, both change over time” (54). If one would compare any literary analysis paper from my undergraduate years to one of my most recent pieces of work, they vastly differ from one another. We learn and grow overtime, causing change in our work overtime. I am sure ten years from now, my future work compared to my current work will mimic the comparisons I am making at this point in time as a writer, which is what makes the act of writing so interesting; the learning process never ends. This idea correlates to Shirley Rose’s idea that “all writers always have more to learn about writing” (58). It is the exact concept that captivates and motivates my continuing education in English. Writing is not like any other discipline in that it is a never-ending learning experience.
In my own college classroom, I always start every semester by telling my students “The only way you can become a better writer, is by writing.” Although very true, this is an extremely loaded phrase. First, the phrase implies that failure is inevitable in order to reach success in writing. Collin Brooke and Allison Carr’s concept explains just this, where failure is a necessity in the writing classroom and “one of the most important things students can learn is that failure is an opportunity for growth” (63). My “first day of class phrase” also implies that practice is mandatory in order to grow. Both Yancey and Chris Anson for concepts 4.3 and 5.3 emphasize the need for practice. In my own classroom, I begin each class with a “daily writing” where my students are given various writing prompts and are instructed to write a one-page response to the prompt in a twenty minute time frame. The first couple of weeks, the students struggle to reach the one-page requirement in twenty minutes; however, by the end of the semester the students understand who they are as a writer much better, have hours and hours of practice logged in which allows them to inevitably become better writers, and have ideas come into their brains much faster.
Both myself and my students participate in the act of revision, relating to Doug Downs’s 4.4 concept where revision is crucial. I set aside class time for my entry level English students to practice revision and understand the need for it. They can compare their first and last drafts and can see the growth in their own work. As a graduate student, my Master’s thesis was extensively revised at least seven times before it was considered “complete,” which only shows how necessary revision is for ongoing, significant growth in writing effectively.