The Center for Writing Studies

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Reading and Working Groups

Current Groups:

CHAT (Cultural Historical Activity Theory) Reading Group

Our CHAT Chats began informally in the summer of 2016 and grew into a formal reading group in the fall of 2016. The group meets every couple of weeks of discuss readings related to CHAT. For more information and/or for access to the readings, contact Bruce Kovanen.

Social Justice Pedagogy Working Group

This working group began in the fall of 2016. It is run by and made up of graduate students in the program and seeks to build teaching practices that engage our students, and ourselves, in the transformative work of developing personal awareness, understanding structural inequality, embracing difference, and committing to action in pursuit of a more just world. The group meets once a month and works to create change within and outside CWS. CWS' Social Justice Education Symposium in the fall of 2017 is an example of the outreach that is central to this group. For more information and/or for access to the readings, contact Logan Middleton

Past Groups:

IPRH and FOCAL reading groups organized by Center for Writing Studies affiliated faculty and graduate students have include:

Embodying Situated Activity

Embodying situated activity is an interdisciplinary group of faculty and graduate students interested in exploring multidisciplinary approaches to theorizing the body-in-interaction in material/ecological worlds and to researching and representing embodied situated activity. For more information or to be added to the group's listserv, contact Bruce Kovanen.

Rhetorical Studies

The RSRG is an interdisciplinary group of faculty/grad students interested in all aspects of rhetoric and public discourse. Since its inception in 2006, the RSRG has hosted over 20 visiting scholars as reading group guests. We also gather together to take up current work in the field, plan for conference submissions, and the like. If you're interested in rhetorical studies (or merely rhetoric-curious), please consider joining us if you aren't a regular already. We meet about 4-5 times per academic year. For more information or to be added to the group's listserv, contact Cara Finnegan.

Youth, Literature, and Culture

Hosted by the Center for Children’s Books, this is a research workshop and reading group that explores youth literature, media, and culture from a variety of disciplinary perspectives and draws scholars from library science, education, English literature, and other departments.  The group, which draws from a number of universities in the region, meets several times per semester to share and encourage new critical work by its members and to reflect on significant trends and publications. Contact: Deborah Stevenson, Graduate School of Library and Information Science.

Other groups have included:

Narrative Tellings, Retellings and Remediations: Readings on Situated Discourse Practice

Analysis of narratives has been central to many disciplines. Recent work has moved from an isolated focus on linguistic construction of narrative textuality to the situated discourse practices of narrative tellings and retellings, including semiotic remediations (whether shifts in material, embodied performance or across media—from talk to text to film to video game). In meetings led by the organizers, participants, and invited visitors, this reading group will explore multidisciplinary approaches to narrative discourse practice.


Other Past Initiatives


Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives

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The Digital Archives of Literacy Narratives (DALN) is a publicly available archive of personal literacy narratives in a variety of formats (text, video, audio) that together provide a historical record of the literacy practices and values of contributors, as those practices and values change.

The DALN was founded by Cynthia Selfe and Louis Ulman and serves to document the diverse literacy practices of individuals in the United States. The Center for Writing Studies is a contributing partner to the archive.

Visit the archive