In Everyday Genres: Writing Assignments across the Disciplines, Mary Soliday calls on genre theory- which proposes that writing cannot be separated from social situation-to analyze the common assignments given to writing students in the college classroom, and to investigate how new writers and expert readers respond to a variety of types of coursework in different fields. This in-depth study of writing pedagogy looks at many challenges facing both instructors and students in college composition classes, and offers a thorough and refreshing exploration of writing experience, ability, and rhetorical situation. Soliday provides an overview of the contemporary theory and research in Writing across the Curriculum programs, focusing specifically on the implementation of the Writing Fellows Program at the City College of New York. Drawing on her direct observations of colleagues and students at the school, she addresses the everyday challenges that novice writers face, such as developing an appropriate "stance" in one's writing, and the intricacies of choosing and developing content.
The volume then goes on to address some of the most pressing questions being asked by teachers of composition: To what extent can writing be separated from its situation? How can rhetorical expertise be shared across fields? And to what degree is writing ability local rather than general? Soliday argues that, while writing is closely connected to situation, general rhetorical principles can still be capably applied if those situations are known. The key to improving writing instruction, she maintains, is to construct contexts that expose writers to the social actions that genres perform for readers.
Supplementing the author's case study are six appendixes, complete with concrete examples and helpful teaching tools to establish effective classroom practices and exercises in Writing across the Curriculum programs. Packed with useful information and insight, Everyday Genres is an essential volume for both students and teachers seeking to expand their understanding of the nature of writing.
Mary Soliday is a professor of English and the director of Writing across the Curriculum and in the Disciplines at San Francisco State University. She is the author of Politics of Remediation: Institutional and Student Needs in Higher Education, which won the 2004 CCCC Outstanding Book Award.