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Doug Brent on Reinventing WAC (Again)

In Arts & Letters, Communication, Information Design, Pedagogy, Rhetoric, Rhetoric & Communication on March 9, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Allen Mendenhall

Doug Brent’s “Reinventing WAC (Again)” argues that WAC pedagogy complements the first-year experience and the related first-year seminar, which shares WAC’s goal of interactivity and cross-disciplinarity.

The author describes the direction that first-year seminars have taken, paying special attention to how they have initiated students into research discourse and culture.  He suggests that these seminars, like WAC pedagogy, emphasize process- and inquiry-based teaching methodologies.

First-year seminars—and in particular the academic-content seminar as opposed to the thematic seminar—are styled to facilitate student participation and engagement.  They encourage students to generate and not just absorb knowledge. 

Because first-year seminars have proven constructive in the past, the author suggests that they should not go unstudied.  His article therefore seeks to remedy the critical neglect of first-year seminars, which continue to proliferate throughout academic communities and to merge theory with action.

Brent presents the first-year seminar as a critical site for remapping and refashioning the teaching of academic discourse; his essay shifts from theoretical abstraction to personal history as he recounts experiences at the University of Calgary.

Brent concludes that first-year seminars are not only fruitful but also “doable” because they have not been stigmatized as have some WAC programs.

I recommend this short article to those who teach writing composition or organize undergraduate (or early graduate) seminars and colloquia.

Further Reading:

Doug Brent.  “Reinventing WAC (Again): The First-Year Seminar and Academic Literacy.”  CCC 57:3 (2005: 253-76).

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