The Ph.D. Program in History

at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York

GC Events

11/3 – Beyond the Essay: Teaching Public Writing

This workshop–open to students in any discipline–will explore writing pedagogies that look beyond the professor as the sole reader and narrow understandings of “academic” writing to incorporate public-facing, multimedia, student-centered projects that speak to real audiences and issues students are invested in.

First, we’ll think critically about disciplinary and institutional assumptions around “college” writing–which are tied closely with the classroom politics of race, class, gender, and disability. What kind of writing (and writers) do we imagine as “rigorous,” “rational,” “professional,” or “appropriate” for school contexts? Too often, schooling frames writing narrowly: as solely composed in alphabetic text, as a demonstration of how well a student can parrot their teachers’ expectations or assimilate into the academy’s linguistic norms, disconnected from the writers’ identity and passions, and completely detached from the world outside the classroom. Why are these assumptions so persistent and pervasive?

From there, we’ll brainstorm writing assignments that move beyond these constraints and tap into the expansive communicative possibilities students can draw on to convey their ideas to a wide array of publics. We will look at various examples (from both college and community writing/arts spaces) of public-facing writing projects beyond the essay–zines, blogs, oral histories, podcasts, and more. With these sources as inspiration, we’ll brainstorm how we might incorporate public-facing writing in the context of our CUNY classrooms and how to navigate some of the challenges it poses, such as privacy concerns, departmental constraints, and labor issues. Attendees are welcome, though by no means required, to bring in their own curricular materials–a concept for a short in-class activity, a final project description, a syllabus you’re redoing–that they’d like support in revising or expanding.

To register for this workshop, please visit

Beyond the Essay: Teaching Public Writing
Wednesday, November 3, 6:00 – 7:30pm, Zoom
Hosted by Anna Zeemont

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