National Writing Project

The Intradisciplinary Influence of Composition and WAC, Part Two: 1986–2006

By: Karla Lyles, Chris M. Anson
Publication: The WAC Journal
Date: July 17, 2012

Summary: In the second part of their study of Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC), Chris M. Anson and Karla Lyles continue to track how the WAC movement developed and examine how writing was taught in a range of disciplines in the years 1986–2006.



Histories of writing across the curriculum (WAC) do not generally ascribe the development of this enduring movement to scholars and teachers within the disciplines themselves. Most accounts suggest that WAC originated in the work of writing and literacy scholars who advocated a more widespread attention to writing in all disciplinary areas across higher education (Russell; Bazerman et al.). But we know little about the influence of this cross-disciplinary outreach and the extent to which it made its way into the inner workings of various disciplines. Investigating the question of influence allows us to begin exploring how particular disciplinary communities have adopted, adapted, and repurposed scholarship on writing and writing instruction based on their own instructional ideologies, disciplinary orientations, and curricular needs. In this article, we report the results of archival research designed to gauge the influence of composition studies on how writing is taught in a range of disciplines. We examined articles published in discipline-specific pedagogical journals, which represent one of the purest indices of possible influence by showing us what scholars and instructors within the disciplines say to each other about the integration of writing into college-level teaching. Fourteen discipline-based pedagogical journals published between January 1967 and December 2006 were mined for articles focusing on instruction in writing (all articles focusing on non-instructional aspects of writing, such as publication tips for scholars, were ignored). The resulting corpus was subjected to counts of publications over time, citation analysis, and content analysis (Neuendorf; Krippendorff) for trends in focus and orientation. . . .

Here we report the results of the second phase of the study, which examined the corpus of articles over the subsequent twenty years, from 1986–2006, "a time of increasing programmatic activity, stronger interest in factors such as social context, student development, and diversity, and the burgeoning influence of computer technology on writing and learning to write" (Anson 17). For details about the study's methodology and a more extensive discussion of the results of the first phase than the sketch provided here, we urge the reader to consult Part One.

Copyright © 2011 Plymouth State University. Reprinted with permission.
Anson, Chris M. and Karla Lyles. 2011. "The Intradisciplinary Influence of Composition and WAC, Part Two: 1986–2006." The WAC Journal 22: 7–19.

Read more articles from this issue of The WAC Journal.

About the Authors
Chris M. Anson is University Distinguished Professor, professor of English, and director of the Campus Writing and Speaking Program at North Carolina State University.
Karla Lyles is a lecturer in the Writing and Linguistics Department at Georgia Southern University.

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