The FSE Program is especially guided by the following assumptions about writing:

  1. That all writing occurs within a context of other writings, most of which surpass the domain of the classroom; that such contexts—historical, cultural, public, and disciplinary—always shape what we say and to whom we address our words;
  2. That writing itself is a legitimate object of inquiry and, therefore, that it is reasonable to have a course that examines issues pertinent to writing—how literacy is acquired; how written texts (our own and others) make their way in the culture at large; how our individual subjectivities are a function of the texts we author, and are authored by;
  3. That the process of writing inevitably entails problems, blocks, pauses, discoveries, mistakes, revisions, false starts, changes of mind, and a host of unanticipated difficulties, some of which the writer may not be fully aware; that learning how to write, therefore, is, in large part, acquiring experience in learning how to accept and meet the routine challenges that writing poses; that the process of writing must also seek to encompass texts as they circulate within the culture at large;
  4. That effective writers develop an awareness of their own writing processes, and that this understanding allows them to identify where and when certain difficulties occur and how best to overcome those difficulties;
  5. That most writing decisions are rhetorically-based; that writers always find themselves in some situation which demands that they address some one for the purpose of effecting some intention;
  6. That writing is inextricably bound to the complementary process of reading: that because reading and writing are meaning-making activities, writing can be understood as a kind of reading, and reading as a kind of writing; that writers are first and foremost people who are, metaphorically at least, in conversation with what they read, and that texts, therefore, can be understood to be in conversation with one another;
  7. That organizational strategies and forms, as well as language choices, are usually determined by the writer's purposes within a particular writing situation, a particular genre, and a particular context of other writings (rather than by any abstract form or scheme);
  8. That writing improvement occurs over time, as inexperienced writers gain practice with, and increasing self-consciousness of, the complexities of acquiring written literacy;
  9. That language issues are inseparable from larger issues of culture, race, history, gender, identity, and class;
  10. That any informed definition of writing is one that must necessarily include visual, oral, performative, as well as alphabetic texts, the last of these being what we commonly call writing.



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