The course description for WRI 1000 states that a key element of the course includes understanding the rhetorical and cultural contexts that impact reading, writing, and learning. That is, the course assumes that rhetoric and culture are necessarily and unavoidably intertwined. This thinking appears again in the course outcomes for WRI 1000, under Rhetorical Knowledge: upon completing the course, students will be able to “demonstrate understanding of the relationship between writer, reader, text, culture, and medium.” Recognizing the importance of culture to the work of the writer, WRI 1000 helps students gain a framework for cultural engagement. Students take seriously the power of language, the power of words, the power of sentences in speaking, thinking, and writing, and students come to see rhetoric as a central part of reconciliation and a tool for critique and activism. WRI 1000, then, lays a foundation for Seattle Pacific University’s Cultural Engagement Curriculum.
Over 40% of SPU’s students are students of color, and because of SPU’s position as an urban, cosmopolitan, and multicultural campus, including issues of race, diversity, and multiculturalism in the WRI 1000 curriculum is of the utmost importance. It is important because writers are able to write well only when they are in conversation with other voices, learning to read the words of others, to hear the words of others, to do something with and alongside the words of others. The Writing Program hopes that the students of SPU do more in their writing than merely echo the ideas they’ve heard their entire lives; we want our students to encounter the words and worlds of others, to do the difficult work of finding a way to put those words and their own into a sentence together.
The Library has created a basic subject guide with resources related to issues of diversity, race, and reconciliation. Faculty interested in literacy narratives concerning culture, race, and the academy, consider the following:
Anzaldua, Gloria. “How to Tame a Wild Tongue.” Borderlands / La Frontera: The New Mestiza, 4th edition, Aunt Lute Books, 2012, pp. 75-86.
Elbow, Peter. “Illiteracy at Oxford and Harvard.” Everyone Can Write: Essays toward a Hopeful Theory of Writing and Teaching Writing. Oxford UP, 2000, pp. 5-27.
Graff, Gerald. Beyond the Culture Wars: How Teaching the Conflicts Can Revitalize American Education. Norton, 1992.
Lu, Min-Zhan. “From Silence to Words: Writing as Struggle.” College English, vol. 49, no. 4, Apr. 1987, pp. 437-48.
Rodriguez, Richard. “The Achievement of Desire.” Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez, Bantam, 1982, pp. 43-78.
Tan, Amy. “Mother Tongue.” The Best American Essays, 1991, edited by Joyce Carol Oates, Ticknor & Fields, 1991, pp. 196-202.