Composition Pedagogy

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Blogging and Writing Pedagogy

Today the director of the Center for Writing asked me to give a brief talk on weblogs in writing pedagogy as part of a panel presentation in the Teaching With Writing series. I agreed, of course, but with several questions about the proper approach to take. The talk is only about 10 minutes, and they want me to offer practical ways the instructors in the audience can integrate blogging into their writing courses (or other courses that incorporate writing), which is of course an understandable request, but here's what frustrates me: So often these workshops only scratch the surface. It ends up being a 90-minute discussion of what a weblog is. I'd rather talk about the many issues involved in teaching with weblogs, some of which have been addressed in impressive detail on the Blogging SIG list, including:

  • Having students keep individual blogs v. one community blog for the class, or several small-group blogs: advantages and disadvantages of each
  • Privacy for the students (if real names are used, people can find the students via Google)
  • Requiring weblog posts, or offering the option of keeping a print journal instead
  • The possible feeling on the part of the instructor of being "exposed" if students complain about the class on the blog
  • Outside participation: the fact that anyone outside the class can read the blog and leave comments (and they do)
  • Assessing weblog posts
  • Creating weblog post prompts (and the question of whether there should be prompts, or if the students should have the option to deviate from the prompt topic to a topic of his or her choice)
  • Avoiding "forced blogging"
  • Integrating the weblog into class discussion

Sigh. There's no way I'll be able to cover all of that. It's too bad there can't be workshops for intermediate to advanced techies with some experience using the particular technology on which the workshop centers. I'm one of those people who goes to every workshop I possibly can -- offered through the Center for Writing, my department, or the Center for Teaching and Learning Services, especially the workshops on instructional technology, but others too, and the ones on technology are always the same: the most basic preliminary definition and exploration of a new technology. I leave not knowing anything I didn't already know. I realize it's necessary to make sure no one is lost or confused, and there's not enough time to get into major issues, but I'd still like to see it happen. So, any suggestions for me as I prepare this talk? If you were composing such a talk, what would you cover? If you're new to blogging as it intersects with writing pedagogy, what do you want to know? If it's old hat to you, what would you have appreciated hearing as a newbie?

Rhetoric 1101 Weblog

Some of you might have already seen it, but in case not, here's the course weblog for my Rhetoric 1101 class this semester. As you can see, it's a pretty free-form, open writing space. I distribute weekly topics, but the students don't necessarily have to write on those topics if they want to raise other issues instead. If you'd like to comment there, please don't hesitate to do so.


Via What It Is Today, a mosaic of the soldiers who have been killed in Iraq. I might bring it into class when we talk about visual arguments. It's a provocative image, raising such obvious questions as: Is it too simplistic? Is it exploitative? Is it ethical to use all of these soldiers' faces? Many of them were likely earnest supporters of the war. What questions at issue and arguments does it raise about why we're at war?

Edited to move image to the "read more" area.

Resources on Blogs in Education

The EDUCAUSE Information Resources Library has fairly recently created a weblog category focused on the use of weblogs in education. A lot of people contact me asking for these kinds of sources, so now I have one handy link to send. :)

Two Apt Metaphors

I encountered both of these recently in conversations with colleagues in various departments about academic blogging and using blogging in writing pedagogy.

First: "I want to do A, B, and C in my (Insert discipline here) (Insert course number here) class. Would I be able to use a blog for that, or must I enter the WebCT gulag?"

Second: [Colleague who's just starting to learn about blogs, reflecting after our lengthy discussion of public/private and the pros and cons of real name v. pseudonym in blogging] "You know, academic blogging under your real name is sort of like the intellectual equivalent of going to a nude beach."

Note: I'm putting that second one in just because I found it so humorous. I'm not trying to weigh in on the real name v. pseudonym debate. One is not more valuable than the other, in my opinion, and there are definite advantages and disadvantages associated with each choice.


Clancy Ratliff

221 Griffin Hall | P.O. Box 44691 | Department of English, University of Louisiana at Lafayette | Lafayette, LA 70504

Academic Employment

Assistant Professor and Director of First-Year Writing, Department of English, University of Louisiana at Lafayette: August 2007-present.

Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Composition, Department of English, East Carolina University: August 2006-May 2007.

Graduate Instructor, University of Minnesota: August 2002-May 2006.

Instructor, Roane State Community College: January 2002-May 2002.

Graduate Teaching Assistant, University of Tennessee: August 1999-May 2001.


Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Scientific and Technical Communication, Minor in Feminist Studies, University of Minnesota, September 2006.
Dissertation: "Where Are the Women?" Rhetoric and Gender in Weblog Discourse. Committee: Mary Lay Schuster (Chair), Laura J. Gurak, Lee-Ann Kastman Breuch, Joanna O'Connell, Geoffrey Sirc.

M.A. in English, Technical Communication emphasis, University of Tennessee, 2001.
Thesis: "I Cannot Read This Story Without Rewriting It": Haraway, Cyborg Writing, and Burkean Form.

B.A. in English, Minor in Photography, University of North Alabama, 1997.

Areas of Specialization

Composition Studies, Writing Program Administration, Feminist Rhetorics, Writing Technologies, Modern Rhetorical Theory, Technical Communication, Research Methodologies, Intellectual Property / Authorship

Articles and Book Chapters

Ratliff, C. (2009). Policing miscarriage: Infertility blogging, rhetorical enclaves, and the case of House Bill 1677. WSQ: Women's Studies Quarterly, 37, 125-145.

Ratliff, C. (2009). Some rights reserved: Weblogs with Creative Commons licenses. In Westbrook, S. (Ed.), Composition, Copyright, and Intellectual Property Law (pp. 50-67). New York: SUNY Press.

Ratliff, C. (2007). Attracting readers: Sex and audience in the blogosphere. Scholar & Feminist Online, 5.2.

Ratliff, C. (2004). Between work and play: Blogging and community knowledge-making. Lore: An e-journal for teachers of writing. Available at

Encyclopedia Articles

Ratliff, C. (2006). Feminist standpoint theory. In Trauth, E.M. (Ed.), The encyclopedia of gender and information technology (pp. 335-340). Hershey, PA: Information Science Publishing.

Ratliff, C. (2006). Postmodern feminism. In Trauth, E.M. (Ed.), The encyclopedia of gender and information technology (pp. 1018-1022). Hershey, PA: Information Science Publishing.

Ratliff, C. (2005). Essentialism. In Heywood, L.L. (Ed.), The women's movement today: An encyclopedia of third wave feminism (pp. 122-123). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Ratliff, C. (2005). Performativity. In Heywood, L.L. (Ed.), The women's movement today: An encyclopedia of third wave feminism (pp. 240-242). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Edited Collections

In Progress: The CCCC-IP Annual: Top Intellectual Property Developments of 2009, online collection of essays for the CCCC Intellectual Property Caucus, publication 2010.

The CCCC-IP Annual: Top Intellectual Property Developments of 2008, online collection of essays for the CCCC Intellectual Property Caucus, 2009. Edited the collection and wrote one article, "Open Access in 2008: The Harvard Policy and the APA's Attempt to Profit from the NIH Open Access Mandate." Available at

The CCCC-IP Annual: Top Intellectual Property Developments of 2007, online collection of essays for the CCCC Intellectual Property Caucus, 2008. Edited the collection and wrote one article, "The National Institutes of Health Open Access Mandate: Public Access for Public Funding." Available at

Gurak, L.J., Antonijevic, S., Johnson, L., Ratliff, C., & Reyman, J. (Eds.). (2004). Into the blogosphere: Rhetoric, community, and culture of weblogs. Available at Reviewed in Computers and Composition Online, Fall 2004.

Book Reviews

In Progress: Review of Technological ecologies & sustainability, eds. Dànielle Nicole DeVoss, Heidi A. McKee, and Richard (Dickie) Selfe. Computers and Composition Digital Press.

In Progress: Review of Webbing Cyberfeminist Practice: Communities, Pedagogies, and Social Action, eds. Kristine Blair, Radhika Gajjala, Christine Tulley. Hampton Press.

In Press: Review of Women's Ways of Making It in Rhetoric and Composition, by Michelle Ballif, Diane Davis, and Roxanne Mountford. JAC: Rhetoric, Writing, Culture, Politics, fall 2008 issue.

In Press: Review of The Rhetoric of Intellectual Property: Copyright Law and the Regulation of Digital Culture, by Jessica Reyman. Computers and Composition, fall 2010 issue.

Scholarships and Awards

Hugh Burns Best Dissertation Award, Computers and Composition, May 2007.

John Lovas Memorial Academic Weblog Award, Kairos, May 2006.

Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, University of Minnesota, May 2005 (university-wide).

Scholarship, Internet Law Program, Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA. May 13-15, 2004.

J. Paul Blakely Award of Excellence, Society for Technical Communication, East Tennessee Chapter, March 2001.

Administrative Experience

Director of First-Year Writing, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, August 2007-present. Duties include:

  • Supervise approximately 60 teachers in a program that serves roughly 4000 students per semester and includes basic writing and honors writing courses
  • Calibrate placement and transfer credit cases for students based on test scores and writing samples
  • Assess the curriculum (textbooks, outcomes, student writing in the aggregate) continually
  • Assist the Writing Center Director with administrative matters
  • Arrange, promote, and facilitate faculty development workshops
  • Review syllabi for first-year writing courses
  • Participate in professional development and curriculum alignment workshops at local high schools
  • Serve as judge for the Ann Dobie Outstanding Freshman Essay Award and the Outstanding New Teacher Award each year
  • Advise teachers and students regarding attendance problems, plagiarism cases, and grade appeals


Clancy Ratliff: Blogger, Scholar...Blogger Scholar: An Interview by Meredith Graupner (Bowling Green State University and Christine Denecker (University of Findlay). Computers and Composition Online, Spring 2008.

Blogs About Business Travel Begin to Feel the Power by Christopher Elliott, The New York Times, September 18, 2006.

Blog this: Posting views for all to see is not new by Thana Dharmaraah, Guelph Mercury, June 2, 2006.

Not just personal use anymore: U courses tap into blogging by Marni Ginther, The Minnesota Daily, February 17, 2006.

Broads on Blogs: An increasingly popular political forum is attracting women with something to say, but is the blogosphere still a man's world? by Stephanie Schorow, SadieMag, November 2005.

Outlook: What's next for blogging? In Bruns, A., & Jacobs, J. (Eds.), Uses of Blogs. Forthcoming from Peter Lang Publishing. Original questions and answers posted July 24, 2005.

Into the blogosphere: Women find a voice and a community on Internet blogs by Taylor Eisenman, Minnesota Women's Press, April 5, 2005.

It's almost as good as being there by Kathy Boccella, Philadelphia Inquirer, November 8, 2004. Also ran in the Chicago Tribune, December 5, 2004.

Stop press: little Timmy ate his lunch by Lucy Atkins, The Guardian, September 29, 2004. Also ran in The Hindu, September 30, 2004.

Outlet for parents — fun for the masses by Molly Millett, St. Paul Pioneer Press, July 14, 2004. Also ran in the Austin American Statesman, October 26, 2004; the Seattle Times, September 19, 2004; and the Arizona Central, September 4, 2004.

Blogging communities’ popularity draws students by Patricia Drey, The Minnesota Daily, March 26, 2003.

Courses Taught

University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Lafayette, LA, August 2007-present.

  • English 102, Writing and Research about Culture
  • English 293, Writing Center Tutoring
  • English 457, Classical Rhetoric
  • English 501, Teaching College English
  • English 509, Teaching College English Practicum

East Carolina University, Greenville, NC, August 2006-May 2007.

  • English 1100, Composition I (two sections, one honors)
  • English 3030, Introduction to Rhetorical Studies
  • English 3810, Advanced Composition
  • English 7765, Special Studies Seminar: Research Ethics for a Complex World

University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN, August 2002-May 2006.

  • Rhetoric 1101: Writing to Inform, Convince, and Persuade (five sections)
  • Rhetoric 1223: Oral Presentations in Professional Settings (four sections)
  • Rhetoric 3266: Group Process, Team Building, and Leadership (one section)
  • Rhetoric 3562W: Technical and Professional Writing (two sections)

Roane State Community College, La Follette, TN, January 2002-May 2002.

  • English 1010: Composition I (one section)

University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, August 1999-May 2001.

  • English 101: English Composition I (two sections)
  • English 102: English Composition II (two sections)
  • Interdisciplinary Studies 493: Technical Writing Module, Ronald McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program (one section)

Dissertation and Thesis Committee Work

Chair, Dissertation: Thomas Reynolds, Wiki Readers Wiki Writers (in progress)
Chair, Dissertation: Kate Lane, Taking Sex Out of the Bedroom: Re-Visioning Ourselves through Sex and the City (defended October 16, 2009)
Chair, Master's Thesis: Shay Frith, Truthiness and Wikiality: A Comparison of Plato to Stephen Colbert in Criticizing Modern and/or Ancient Sophists

Conference Presentations, National

“'Public Access for Public Funding': Copyright, Taxpayer Funding, and Open Access Scholarship.” Conference on College Composition and Communication, Louisville, KY, scheduled March 2010.

“How Suffragist Rhetoric Resembles Blogosphere Rhetoric.” Conference on College Composition and Communication, San Francisco, CA, March 11, 2009.

“What Can Composition Learn from Political Blogging? Tapping into the Agora.” Conference on College Composition and Communication, New Orleans, LA, April 4, 2008.

“Bumper Cars and Bloodsports: The Political Blogosphere and the Writing Classroom.” Feminisms and Rhetorics, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Little Rock, AR. October 5, 2007.

“Peer-to-Peer Review, Metadata, and Distant Reading: Introducing MediaCommons, a New Scholarly Network.” Computers and Writing, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI. May 18, 2007.

“Digital Writing Research(ers): Institutional Review Boards: Mapping the Issues for Organizational Position Statements.” (Roundtable). Computers and Writing, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI. May 18, 2007.

“Negotiating and Regulating Plagiarism in Everyday Blogging Practices.” Conference on College Composition and Communication, New York, NY. March 2007.

"Coalition-Building on Weblogs: Negotiating Innovation and Access in Writing Pedagogy." Conference on College Composition and Communication, Chicago, IL. March 2006.

"Carnival in the Commons: New Directions and Old Challenges for Online Scholarly Publishing." Modern Language Association Annual Convention, Washington, D.C. December 2005.

"'The Parental Is Political': Gender, Punditry, and Weblogs." Conference on College Composition and Communication, San Francisco, CA. March 16, 2005.

Chair, "Owning Knowledge: New Intersections of Intellectual Property, Technology, and Academia." Conference on College Composition and Communication, San Francisco, CA. March 2005.

"Whose Voices Get Heard? Gender Politics in the Blogosphere." Conference on College Composition and Communication, San Antonio, TX. March 26, 2004. Available at

"Women Born Women Only: The Dialogue Between the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival and Camp Trans." Feminism(s) and Rhetoric(s), The Ohio State University, October 23, 2003.

"Sites of Resistance: Weblogs and Creative Commons Licenses." Association of Internet Researchers, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, October 18, 2003. Available at

"Blogging as Social Action: The Weblog as Genre." Computers and Writing, Purdue University, May 23, 2003

"Kairosnews: A Weblog for the Computers and Writing Community." Computers and Writing, Purdue University, May 24, 2003.

"Looking to Lorde and Daly: When It's Not Okay to Be Silent in Feminist Rhetorical Theory." Conference on College Composition and Communication, New York, New York, March 20, 2003.

"Kairosnews: A Weblog for the Rhetoric Community." Conference on College Composition and Communication, New York, New York, March 21, 2003.

"The Populist Cyborg: Resituating Haraway in Activism." Humanities and Technology Association, Terre Haute, Indiana, October 25, 2002.

"What is Form to a Cyborg? Burkean Form for a Postmodern Audience." Conference on College Composition and Communication, Chicago, Illinois, March 23, 2002.

Conference Presentations, Regional

“Open Source Software and the Digital Divide: Revisiting the Issue of Access in Computers and Composition Studies.” Louisiana Association of College Composition, Monroe, LA. November 2009.

“'No More Than a Year': Isocrates and the Assessment of First-Year Writing.” Louisiana Association of College Composition, Alexandria, LA. November 15, 2008.

“Opportunities for Teaching Civic Literacy in Louisiana.” Louisiana Association of College Composition, New Orleans, LA. November 17, 2007.

“Attracting Readers: Sex and Audience in the Blogosphere.” South Atlantic Modern Language Association, Charlotte, NC. November 11, 2006.

"Gender, Punditry, and Weblogs: A Feminist Rhetorical Analysis of Blogging’s Challenge to Current Understandings of Political Discourse." New Research for New Media: Innovative Research Methodologies Symposium. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. September 15-16, 2005.

"Blogging to Learn: Engaging Students, Building Community." Academy of Distinguished Teachers Conference, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. April 25, 2005.

"Blogging and the Mainstream Media." Society of Professional Journalists' Region 6 Conference, Bloomington, MN. April 2, 2005.

"Making the Adjunct Visible: Normativity in Academia and Subversive Heteroglossia in the Invisible Adjunct Weblog Community." Great Plains Alliance for Computers and Writing Conference, North Dakota State University. April 24, 2004. Available at

Invited Presentations/Workshops

"Using Podcasting Software to Comment on Student Writing.” Teaching with Technology 2006: A Think-In of Best Practices, East Carolina University Academic Outreach, November 9, 2006.

“Increasing Students’ Sense of Ownership and Participation in a Course Weblog.” (Co-presented with Jonathan Goodwin.) Teaching with Technology 2006: A Think-In of Best Practices, East Carolina University Academic Outreach, November 9, 2006.

Next/Text Meeting for Rhetoric, Composition, and the Digital Textbook. The Institute for the Future of the Book, Annenberg Center at the University of Southern California. April 26, 2006.

“Uses of Blogging and Social Bookmarking in the Classroom.” Web 2.0: Promoting Collaboration and Student-Centered Learning. Technology-Enhanced Learning Seminar Series, University of Minnesota Digital Media Center. April 5, 2006.

“Using Weblogs as Project Management Tools, Sounding Boards, or Everyday Journals.” Writing for the Web, University of Minnesota Compleat Scholar Program, College of Continuing Education. February 13, 2006.

“Weblogs in Writing Pedagogy: Learning Objectives, Questions, and Issues.” Assigning Blogs. Spring 2006 Workshop Series, University of Minnesota Center for Writing. February 2, 2006.

“Live-Action Progymnasmata! Or, Using Weblogs in Writing Courses: Pedagogical Windfalls, Practical Advice, and Tips for Using UThink.” University of Minnesota Department of Rhetoric Instructor Orientation. August 31, 2005.

"Weblogs and Wikis in Teaching." With Krista Kennedy. University of Minnesota Digital Media Center Faculty Fellowship Program, February 10, 2005 and November 16, 2005.

“Into the Blogosphere: New Models of Research and Publication with Blogs.” With Laura Gurak, Smiljana Antonijevic, Laurie Johnson, Krista Kennedy, and Jessica Reyman. University of Minnesota Center for Advanced Feminist Studies Colloquium Series, November 29, 2004.

"Weblogs in Education and Training." Communication 385, Media Relations, Metropolitan State University. Instructor: Victoria Sadler. November 1, 2004.

"Online Writing / Writing Online: A Workshop for Instructors Who Assign Writing." Fall 2004 Workshop Series, University of Minnesota Center for Writing. October 29, 2004.

"Gender and Weblogs." Women's Studies 3306, Pop Culture Women, University of Minnesota. Instructor: Tiffany Muller. July 20, 2004.

Service (Profession)

Member, Editorial Board, Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing

Member, Editorial Board, MediaCommons: A Digital Scholarly Network

Member, CCCC Intellectual Property Caucus, 2003-present. Co-chair during academic year 2007-2008 and 2008-2009.

Peer Reviewer, Feminisms and Rhetorics Conference 2009

Social Software Special Interest Group, Conference on College Composition and Communication, New York, NY, March 2007.

Open Source Software Special Interest Group, Conference on College Composition and Communication, New York, NY, March 2007.

Co-Chair, Blogging Special Interest Group, Conference on College Composition and Communication, Chicago, IL, March 2006. Participant in SIG for CCCC 2005.

Organizing Committee, Computers and Writing Online 2005.

Peer Reviewer, Computers and Writing 2007: Virtual Urbanism. Wayne State University, Detroit, MI.

Peer Reviewer, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication

Peer Reviewer, NWSA Journal

Peer Reviewer, New Media and Society

Peer Reviewer, Sex Roles: A Journal of Research

Site Administrator, Computers and Writing Conference Weblog

Founder and Associate Editor, Kairosnews: A Weblog for Discussing Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy.

Feminist Rhetoric Field Editor, A Portal of Sites Relevant to the Field of Rhetoric and Composition.

Service (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)

Global Competency Rapid Action Team for University General Education Assessment

Admission by Exception Committee

Chair, First-Year Writing Committee

Women’s Studies Committee

Personnel Committee, (2-year term 2007-2008, 2008-2009)

Graduate Admissions Committee

Placement Committee

Graduate Course Offerings Committee (2-year term 2009-2010, 2010-2011)

Continuing Assistantships Committee

Awards Committee

Chair, Search committee, Instructor position (academic year 2007-2008)

Chair, Search committee, Writing Center Director position (academic year 2008-2009)

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Hell and Money

Strangest news story I've read in a while...

Believing in Hell Has Its Benefits:

Economists searching for reasons why some nations are richer than others have found that those with a wide belief in hell are less corrupt and more prosperous, according to a report by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Can you imagine, being at a meeting at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and saying, "Hey, everyone, I've got a great idea for a study..." The story is quite close to what one finds in The Onion, which, incidentally, has some good stories today. I'm going to save the latter of the two for possible use in this fall's first-year composition class. I've found that using an extended example of a "Baby! I've changed! Pleeease take me back!! Remember the time we [...] It could be like that again!" argument is a great and fun way to introduce the rhetorical appeals -- but you have to ham it up. :)

Question on Research Assistantships

If I go through my entire graduate school career without a research assistantship or a fellowship, is that going to look bad when I go on the market? I've never applied for either one, the reason being that I enjoy teaching, and I don't think I'd be happy if I weren't teaching. In fact, I've been teaching year-round for two years now, and I'd like to continue doing so if possible.

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