Language is a source of power that makes things happen in the world, and that is an important and challenging lesson to teach in college writing courses. Once students recognize the profound implications of our work with language, many of the skills instructors value — argumentation, organization, revision, editing, proofreading — become much easier to teach. In addition, given that many of us work with students for merely one semester, when we want or need at least two, teaching students how and why language matters in the world helps ensure that they will continue to work on their writing once they leave our classrooms.
During my career as a graduate student, I became increasingly aware of the power of language as I began to publish my writing online (mainly through blogs on HASTAC) and in academic journals. People would quote my work, share it with others, and contact me to discuss their ideas. They would tell me how my writing about pedagogy prompted them to do something different in their classrooms. As someone who thinks deeply about feminist and antiracist politics of citation, publishing for a wide audience made me even more meticulous about citing those whose labor and ideas have enabled my own thinking.
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