Weekly Response: Yancey’s "Made Not Only in Words"

Yancey poses thought-provoking questions about writing at the beginning of this paper.

In the first "quartet" of her address to the CCCC, she talks about all the writing that is going on outside of school, and how the public is awakening to writing as the public awoke to reading during the industrial revolution. She references shifts in monetary allotment from schools to students, and how this changes education. She then discusses changes in writing, and that literacy is now screen based and media oriented.


In quartet 2, Yancey discusses the FYW course at college and how by changing it to be a gateway instead of a gatekeeping course, colleges could produce more graduates. What should FYW look like then? Print, digital, images, screens? Yancey examines the options and finds we are already expecting more than just print from students, and that electronic writing is already happening. This article is dated, though, 2004. She states that less than 30% of instructors were using CMSs. I suppose it is much higher by now.

Quartet three contains Yancey's call to action:
At this moment, we need to focus on three changes: Develop a new curriculum; revisit and revise our writing and develop a major in composition and rhetoric.
She focuses on a proposed new curriculum for the 21st century which includes changing the process model and the "tutorial" model. She gives a long list of tasks that students are NOT asked to do in a FYW course, but should be to become active and thoughtful members of a "writing public." She proposes that students learn to circulate and "remediate" (KUWP ISI '15, #clmooc) their writing and then analyze and reflect upon the process. She then says something I've been waiting for some reasonable soul to pronounce all semester. Instead of trashing FYW and calling for its demise because it can't create good writing, good digital literacy, good grammarians, good researchers, or good writers, she says:
And if you are saying, but I can't do all this in first-year composition, I'm going to reply, "Exactly." First-year composition is a place to begin;
Finally....Thank you, Yancey! She continues in quartet 3 to discuss delivery vs. invention, and why they should not necessarily be separate; and the concept of "now" in digital writing.

The fourth quartet talks about technology and how it is still outside of the curriculum, similar to how assessment is divorced from the curriculum. She suggests that writing curriculum must change now to include the way students write outside the classroom, and then points to larger social and political implications.

This is a great article, though over a decade old. Some of what she called for has already been widely accepted. Yancey may be one of my favorites from this class.