COVID-19 Updates: Fall Semester

Black Lives Matter Statement and Action Items

As a program, we affirm that Black Lives Matter and that such words are meaningless without actions. We are therefore committed to the following actions for our program:

  1. We will reconsider how our own pedagogies and classroom actions can either promote racism or antiracism at any given moment and discuss ways to actively promote antiracism in our classroom space. This includes having departmental meetings where we discuss how to further implement such pedagogies as a group.

  2. We will host workshops for colleagues teaching writing in other departments/programs across campus in which we discuss equitable assessment strategies and antiracist pedagogies.

  3. Most of our classes already address race and ethnicity explicitly and implicitly, such as WRPR 205 Race, Rhetoric, and Protest, WRPR 208 Cultural Rhetorics, WRPR 288 Writing Race and Class, WRPR 354 Rhetoric of Public Memory, WRPR 210: Social Class and the Environment, WRPR 0212: Issues and Methods in Tutoring Writing, and WRPR/LNGT 110 English Grammar: Concepts and Controversies. We commit to furthering our own learning and teaching about topics of race and racism to make sure that students from all backgrounds have the chance to converse and write about these issues. 

  4. We will also link those issues to questions in our field, including discussions about what forms of language are privileged or marginalized within the academy and questions about how white supremacy shapes discourse (e.g., Inoue, 2018; Poe, Inoue, & Eliot, 2018; Praxis, 2018).

These are just a few action items that the Writing and Rhetoric Program will take over the course of the coming school year to make race a more central part of our courses, our scholarship, and our institutional service and assessment, and to make sure our program and colleagues across the campus employ more equitable, antiracist pedagogies. 

We close by stating that systemic violence has been committed against Black bodies for centuries, and though we are happy to read and produce statements and to see such crimes acknowledged, we believe action is crucial. Though we don’t believe the actions we have stated above will change attitudes and perspectives about race on Middlebury’s campus alone, we believe it is a start. It’s a start we are committed to. 

Genie Giaimo

James Chase Sanchez

Shawna Shapiro

Hector Vila

Catharine Wright

For more on anti-racist and inclusive pedagogy in our field, including links to some of our own scholarly work, please visit the links below and our individual webpages.

Inoue, Asao B. Antiracist writing assessment ecologies: Teaching and assessing writing for a socially just future. WAC Clearinghouse, 2015.

Poe, Mya, Asao B. Inoue, and Norbert Elliot, eds. Writing assessment, social justice, and the advancement of opportunity. WAC Clearinghouse, 2018. 

Praxis: A Writing Center Journal. - Race and the Writing Center. (2019 special issue)