The Pocket Instructor: Writing

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The Pocket Instructor: Writing is a collection of favorite exercises for teaching academic writing. Like the first “Pocket Instructor” volume, published by Princeton University Press in 2015 (The Pocket Instructor: Literature, edited by Diana Fuss and William A. Gleason), this new volume on writing offers a ready reference of exercises for the college classroom featuring contributions from teachers at a broad range of colleges and universities. Because teaching with writing is a singularly powerful way to communicate disciplinary concepts and practices, our goal is for instructors to use this book both to teach students to write within their field as well as simply to teach their field. Exercises featured in the volume are appropriate not just for the writing classroom but also for any college-level environment where analytical argument is a priority.

We therefore seek writing-centered exercises that novice and experienced teachers alike will want in their repertoire. We encourage submissions designed for a diverse range of students and skill sets. In some cases, the exercise might focus on an intellectual task common across fields. In others, it might be anchored in a particular disciplinary context and include a reflection on how to adapt it for other purposes. We include samples of both approaches in the model exercises on the submissions website. We also include a document we have found helpful for our own pedagogy: “A Writing Lexicon,” inspired by Gordon Harvey’s “Elements of the Academic Essay.” This writing lexicon gives name to elements present in effective, persuasive argument across the scholarly disciplines: thesis, motive, structure, key terms, methodology, evidence or data, analysis, sources, orienting, citations, conventions, and mechanics. Those considering submitting an exercise might also draw on the language of the writing lexicon, though there is no requirement to do so.

We define “writing” as broadly as the intended use of this volume: as intellectual engagement on the page. The exercises in The Pocket Instructor: Writing will teach all the steps that go into crafting an innovative, clear, rigorously argued academic essay, and not merely the final product. Asking questions and brainstorming, hunting for and evaluating sources, outlining and drafting, giving and receiving feedback, recalibrating analytical claims and fielding counterarguments, and radical revision all count here as “writing.”

To submit an exercise to the editors and the Press for review, we have provided a user-friendly submission link (Submit), some sample exercises (Models), a brief checklist of things to include (Guidelines), and a description of the navigational devices that will accompany each entry (Keys).

Unfortunately, we will not be able to include every submission in the volume. In consultation with the Press, we will select final entries based on multiple criteria, including the type of exercise, the clarity of the exercise’s goals and description, the adaptability of the exercise to a range of college and university classrooms, and how well the exercise fits with other entries in the volume.

Thank you for your interest, and we look forward to receiving your submission!

Amanda Irwin Wilkins and Keith Shaw (Princeton University), Editors

E-mail: The Pocket Instructor: Writing