Writing Innovation Symposium Program

Write it Out: The 2022 Writing Innovation Symposium
February 3-4 at Marquette University 

Hosted by the MU Social Innovation Initiative and University Libraries

Sponsored by Mount Mary University and Bedford/St. Martin's with MU Community Engagement, Interdisciplinary Gender & Sexualities Studies, and the Haggerty Museum of Art.

Writing is a practice that can be used to enable, enact, and invite change in productive, transformative ways. The 2022 symposium theme, “write it out,” acknowledges—and celebrates—the many ways we use writing to remember, acknowledge, and heal. It also embraces the ways we use writing to gain clarity, assuredness, and control in the face of uncertainty or adversity. When we write something out, we figure out whether we really understand what we think and whether there are problems with our arguments. Writing it out can also help us imagine how our ideas might sound to diverse audiences. 


Ultimately, writing it out helps us “ride it out,” whatever it may be. We write out our most personal challenges, and we write out collectively in response to shared struggles: the COVID-19 pandemic, white supremacy, climate crisis, global challenges to democracy, the 20th anniversary of 9/11, and more. 


For the 4th annual Writing Innovation Symposium, we invite writers and writing educators to share their strategies for writing it out. Our program features a plenary workshop with Dr. Jessica Edwards and a plenary presentation by Dr. Derek Handley along with workshops, concurrent sessions, a display and poster session, and a closing conversation about writing it out justly in ways that are responsive to as well as inclusive of all writers. We are also excited to announce the inauguration of the Bedford/St. Martin’s Writing Innovation Scholars Program, which makes up to $500 available to both participants and attendees for symposium-related expenses. Although our primary focus is college, we encourage participation from writing educators of all ranks, roles, and institutional affiliations. What we hold in common, along with our commitment to writers and writing, is our focus on concrete examples of writing instruction, writing research, and writing itself.

Write it Out: 2022 Writing Innovation Symposium Program

In brief:




We are excited to announce the creation of the Bedford/ St. Martin’s Writing Innovation Scholars Program. This program is designed to encourage un- and underrepresented students and colleagues, especially multiply-marginalized writers and writing teachers, to contribute to the WI Symposium. Both presenters and attendees are invited to apply. 

Bedford/St. Martin’s WI Scholars will receive up to $500 in funding to support symposium travel, housing, and registration along with a WIS mentor, a member of the Steering Committee who will serve as an event host. In addition, a variety of onsite roles are reserved for WI Scholars (e.g., session chair, session respondent, closing session interlocutor). All Bedford/St. Martin’s WI Scholars will also have an opportunity to create a Bedford Blog post based on their participation. 

To apply, email a brief letter(400-500 words) to Darci Thoune. Be sure to include 

    • A central question or idea that you want to explore, related to the symposium theme. 
    • A sense of why that question or idea matters both to you and to others involved, in one or more ways, in writing education. 
    • A sense of how you are well-positioned to explore and address the question or idea you have proposed (e.g., positionality, personal experience, prior coursework, current academic agenda).
    • The sum total (up to $500) you are requesting in relation to the cost of travel, housing, registration, and other event-related expenses.

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis through Friday, January 21 at 12pm Central. Remember, both presenters and attendees are welcome to apply.



Optional welcome event at the Ambassador hotel.


Our 2022 plenary workshop will be led by Dr. Jessica Edwards. 

Writing to Liberate: On Self, Community, and Meaningfulness

Many teachers that I know connect writing to discovery, to thinking, and to understanding the self in relation to the world. This same writing process that teachers champion can also lead to action as writings take the form of life roadmaps, legal documents, screenplays, articles, and other genres. Writing can even be enjoyed as ephemera. The actions that writings put in motion have the potential to not only impact personal decision making, but influence the lives of others. The myriad of ways in which writing connects us, across time, space, race, community, age, sexuality and more remains to be seen. So, as we think about just how connected we are as people and consider how “Writing it Out” aids the process of engagement, I encourage us all to think through the possibilities of writing to liberate. The question that we’ll explore is “How might the teaching of writing liberate us? Our students? Our communities?”

The goal of this workshop, which is open to educators across disciplines, ranks, and roles, is to advance conversations about liberation through writing and to help participants identify meaningful moves that may be useful within and beyond the symposium. In addition to sharing my experiences connecting my writing class to a local Mobile Health Van and community partners during the global COVID 19 pandemic, there will be ample time for exploration and reflection, carving space that encourages participants to write to liberate themselves and their communities. 

Jessica Edwards, PhD

Jessica Edwards, PhD, writing teacher, editor, and advocate for inclusive practices, is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Delaware in Newark, DE. She’s interested in helping scholars heighten their historical, political, and racial consciousness through writing. Dr. Edwards is the author of several book chapters and articles about writing classrooms. She has also helped to edit a couple of books, most recently a co-edited piece titled Speaking Up, Speaking Out: Lived Experiences of Non-Tenure-Track Faculty in Writing Studies. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, being with family, roller skating, and attending live concerts.



Our 2022 plenary presentation will be given by Dr. Derek Handley.

After the End of America's "Longest War": Veteran Students, Civic Rhetorics, and Educational Possibilities

This presentation explores a participatory, rhetorical approach to writing instruction which allows active military and veteran students to connect their writing with civic engagement and military service. It may also reduce the divide between veteran and non-veteran students. 

As Bill Keith and Roxanne Mountford note in their Mt Oread Manifesto, “participation in the issues shaping a society necessarily means being able to understand a problem from more than one position.” In our classrooms, veteran voices, informed through writing and critical inquiry, need to be deliberately included in ongoing and important conversations. Assignments that address timely and demanding civic issues can allow veterans and other students to see a clear purpose for their academic work and to develop an understanding of how citizens can make decisions through inquiry.  

In the spirit of “writing it out,” I discuss this approach to writing education as a veteran who has made the difficult transition from active military service to the academic classroom. I also share my experiences in teaching veterans at a community college and working with active-duty military students at a service academy.

Derek Handley

Derek Handley is an assistant professor in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee English Department’s Public Rhetorics & Community Engagement program and affiliated faculty in the African and African Diaspora Studies Department. He has authored and co-authored articles in Rhetoric ReviewReflections: A Journal of Community-Engaged Writing and Rhetoric, and Review of Communication. His forthcoming book project looks at the rhetorical strategies and tactics used by African-American communities in Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and St. Paul MN in response to urban renewal projects. He is a proud Navy veteran with 28 years of active and reserve service.


Just Writing
2020 Writing Innovation Symposium Program  


9am-11:30am, Beaumier Suites B & C in Raynor Library, lower level
Please note: Pre-registration is required.

Workshop #1: Just Feedback facilitated by Sara Heaser, Darci Thoune, Virginia Crank (University of Wisconsin-La Crosse)

In composition studies we understand, first, that feedback is a heavily situated activity (Straub 2000); second, that error is a largely socially constructed notion (Anson 2000; Williams 1981); and, third, that learning is an inherently social activity (Vygotsky 1978). Yet many of us still give feedback on student writing in ways that reinforce Standard Edited American Academic English (SEAAE) and disadvantage students who don’t produce it. As Asao Inoue explains “When looking for bad writing or failure, teachers don’t just find it because tests construct it or, perhaps, overconstruct it. They find it in particular places, students, and kinds of writing because those places, people, and texts are already reified as failure” (335). 

This kind of injustice is compounded by how we are—or, all too often, are not—prepared to teach writing, and many of us who did take a course or workshop still may not have had much instruction on offering feedback. Instead, we all just know we’re supposed to provide it, and so we do what we can. When we’re pressed for time, that may not be much, and if we lack training, we probably imitate the comments we got as students or the reviews we get now as scholars. 

This workshop starts with the idea that in all good pedagogy an exploration of practice often leads to hidden theories that undergird those practices. With that in mind, we invite participants to join us in exploring their own and others’ feedback practices. In the first half of this workshop, we will consider some of the following questions: 

  • What kind of feedback do you offer students on their writing? What percentage of your feedback focuses on identifying and/or correcting students’ mistakes? What other kinds of feedback do you offer? 
  • Why do you provide students with feedback on their writing? What motivates you to offer it?  What purpose does it serve from your point of view?
  •  Which parts of the feedback process are satisfying to you? Which parts of the feedback process are frustrating or unsatisfying?  
  • How do you want students to receive your feedback? How do you think they perceive its purpose? What do you think motivates them to read and respond? 

 In the second half of the workshop, with an eye to improving our instructional practices, we will  consider: 

  • When and how can we disarticulate feedback from grading?
  • When  and how can we rearticulate feedback with learning? 
  • What ethical considerations, if any, should we keep in mind when offering students’ feedback? 

Workshop #2: Just Rhetoric facilitated by Jenn Fishman (Marquette University), Renea Frey (Xavier University; Joe Janangelo, Loyola University Chicago; and Bob Whipple, Creighton University. 

Although rhetoric is an essential component of higher education, it is not always clear what counts as rhetoric instruction or who can—and should—be responsible for offering it. This ambiguity is commonplace on most college and university campuses, and it presents a particular quandary for teachers and scholars who offer courses that fulfill rhetoric and writing or speaking requirements. In the March 2019 issue of Connections, Laurie Ann Britt-Smith, the current President of the Jesuit Conference on Rhetoric and Composition, speaks for many of us who consider ourselves rhetoric educators: “[O]n our campuses [...] we share a desire to reclaim rhetoric as a tool for transformation, and we wrestle with ways of promoting meaningful change for the individual learner and in our communities.” 

This three-hour workshop offers a series of discussions and activities that invite participants to explore and expand their repertoires for rhetorical education:

  • Opening Deliberation. Participants will discuss what is recognized as rhetoric instrucitonn on their campuses, who contributes to it, and what histories, research, and scholarship support it.
  • Reframing: Workshop facilitators, all members of the Jesuit Conference on Rhetoric and Composition, will invite participants to consider (or reconsider) rhetoric as not only a tradition of persuasion and critical analysis but also a long-standing resource for responsible choice making, empathetic collaboration, and socially just action.
  • Diving In: Participants will cycle through two of the three micro-workshops listed below:
    • Just Rhetoric and Community-Based Learning in Professional Writing 
    • Not Just English: Writing-Intensive Courses across the Curriculum
    • Just Rhetoric, Just Digital Literacy
  • Summing Up and Looking Ahead: The workshop will conclude with group discussion about individual and institutional next steps, including strategies for the ongoing work of defining, designing, and delivering rhetorical education effectively on our campuses. 

This workshop is open to faculty, staff, and students, including both undergraduates and graduate students. A table at lunch will be reserved for those who wish to continue the conversation. Also, all are encouraged to propose related topics for the “unconference” that will conclude the symposium on Friday afternoon.  

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12pm-1:15pm, Beaumier Suites B & C in Raynor Library (lower level)

Our 2020 plenary speaker is Dr. Paul Feigenbaum. His address is titled "Welcome to 'Failure Club': Cultivating Generative Approaches to Failure through Writing Pedagogy": 

As entrepreneurs and design thinkers continually remind us, failure and innovation are two indelibly linked concepts. Innovation emerges from failure, and vice versa. Failure, of course, is also a form of feedback; it is, in fact, perhaps the most fundamental form of feedback, in that from their infancy, human beings learn from a process of continual trial and error. And yet, far from being seen as the primary pathway to learning, growth, and life success, failure has come to be associated with intense anxiety and fear among millions of students nationwide. The goal of this talk, then, is to help writing teachers better negotiate this basic contradiction. I will first address some of the cultural and educational factors behind our nation’s deeply mixed messaging about failure, focusing on the American system of meritocracy—or, what one might call Ameritocracy. Then I will draw on my own experiences helping students perceive failure as a generative process—which culminated in a course I called “Failure Club”—in order to weigh the benefits and costs of various “pro-failure” pedagogical strategies. Some of these have to do with grading policies, and some have to do with intentionally cultivating an environment that highlights social-emotional components of the learning, and failing, process.

Paul is Associate Professor of English at Florida International University, where he concentrates much of his attention on community writing. Currently he is Co-Editor of Community Literacy Journal, and he serves on the inaugural Board of Directors of the Coalition for Community Writing. He is the author of numerous articles and book chapters as well as Collaborative Imagination: Earning Activism through Literacy Education. He also recently served as scholar in residence at YES, a community-based youth empowerment organization in Pittsburgh, PA.

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Beaumier Suites B & C in Raynor Library (lower level)

1:30-2:45          Session 1, Panels A & B

3:00-4:15          Session 2, Panels A& B

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4:30-6:30pm, Digital Scholarship Lab in Raynor Library  (lower level)

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7:00-8:30pm, 707 Hub (1102 W Wisconsin Ave)

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9:00-10:15 and 10:30-11:45 in the University Libraries
Note: Graduate Students have priority registration; open seats will be released to registered symposium participants during the display/maker session and reception Thursday afternoon.


Workshop #1: Teaching History and Culture in the Writing Classroom facilitated by Cedric Burrows (Marquette University)

In her 2011 CCCC chair’s address, Gwendolyn Pough maintains that while instruction is important and valuable work, instructors should also teach students how to contextualize, and sometimes contest, sources (307; 308). According to Pough, the ultimate goal is to teach students “to think about what they hear” in order to “create a critical thinking citizenship” (309).

One way to have students contextualize sources is to examine how history and culture affects their reading of the texts. Instructors and students are “walking texts”—i.e., people shaped by a particular time period and cultural community. Therefore, when theses walking texts enter into a writing community, it not only affects how they write but also how they read texts from various historical and cultural periods.

This workshop, then invites everyone to participate in activities and discussions on how to integrate history and culture in the classroom, especially when teaching texts that require specific set of historical and cultural knowledge. The workshop will consist of two parts. The first part will provide a demonstration on how to teach a text requiring historical and cultural literacy. The second part of the workshop will encourage participants to brainstorm techniques on how to incorporate history and culture in their own classes. Therefore, participants are encouraged to bring materials (e.g., syllabus, assignments, class activities), that they would like to workshop and share with other participants. 


Workshop #2: Just Course Design facilitated by Sebastian Bitticks and Gabrielle Belknap

Social justice cannot be a supplementary aspect of a writing course. Instead, the course design must account for how unjust systems (political, cultural, institutional) perpetuate inequality (Fraser) while putting into action an alternative. Instructors can avoid “issue fatigue” by empowering students to develop their skills for action around the conviction that there is always hope and the nature of the current world is not the only possibility (Freire).

This workshop begins by laying out the three principles of socially-just course design:

  1. That the structure and the design of the course must be based around socially just practices, not just the subjects or activities.
  2. Approaching social justice within course subjects and activities should likewise focus on the structural factors that are the root causes of oppression and conflict.
  3. That students can work from a place of hope, knowing that these oppressive structures are man-made and therefore destructible/transformable, and that their course work can help them develop skills for action to carry out hopeful work.

Next, three different approaches to a building these principles into the design of writing intensive courses are shared. These course are:

  • A freshman composition 101 course
  • A writing-intensive topics course
  • A creative writing workshop

The rest of the session focuses on discussion, with participants sharing their experiences and collaboratively reasoning through issues, ways to approach problems and imagining course designs.

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Beaumier Suites B & C in Raynor Library (lower level)

9:00-10:15        Session 1, Panels A & B

10:30-11:45      Session 2, Panels A & B

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12:00-1:30pm Beaumier Suites B & C in Raynor Library (lower level) and various

1:00-1:30  Campus Tours
                 Sign up on site at the symposium welcome desk

a) Haggerty Museum of Art

b) Ott Memorial Writing Center

c) 707 Hub

d) St. Joan of Arc Chapel

e) Women in Rare Books, Incunabula (Amy Cary, up to 12 people)

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1:45-3:30pm in the Haggerty Museum of Art

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3:30-4:30pm in the Haggerty Museum of Art