Celebration of Student Writing

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The Celebration of Student Writing, or CSW, began at Eastern Michigan University in 2001. Founded by former co-directors of the First Year Writing program, Linda Adler-Kassner and Heidi Estrem, the CSW was created to be a space that makes visible the writing projects that students develop in ENGL 121: Researching the Public Experience. Tied closely to the Learning Process Outcomes, the CSW exists to provide a public audience for students while positioning them as contributing members of the academic community, with an emphasis on interaction and conversation rather than simply displaying work. The biannual event is open to the public as well as the university community, and ENGL 120 students are also invited to attend. In April 2013, we celebrated our 12th full year with over 1,000 students showing their work from 42 sections of ENGL 121.

Concerned with public perceptions of student writing alongside variances in instructor status and control, as well as students’ own perceptions of college-level research writing, the CSW was built into the ENGL 121 curriculum as a means of publicly honoring and celebrating student writing at the semester’s end (see Adler-Kassner and Estrem, “Rethinking Research Writing”). This focus on public literacy is what shapes the CSW as the culminating event for First Year Writing students, in lieu of a final exam. As Estrem concludes from a long-term case study that followed three students through their senior years of high school and first semesters of college composition, the students she followed were good at “studenting,” or doing what was asked of them by their instructors, but rarely were they given the opportunity to compose meaningful writing for an audience beyond the classroom. The FYW program and CSW work through a series of outcomes and coursework so that “students and instructors alike [can] re-imagine writing as a living, engaged response to the world around them” (“Rethinking Research Writing”).

With an emphasis on engagement with the audience, students presenting their work at the CSW pull from a variety of genres including games, performances, staged scenes, role playing, websites, film, poster boards, brochures, art installations and mixed media pieces, among others, to bring their research to a wider audience. ENGL 120 students in recent years have been asked to document the event through social media, and in March 2013 the editors of EM-Journal published a special issue featuring sound clips, images, video, and text from the Fall 2012 CSW. Additionally, there have been several incarnations of videos that feature live interviews, stills, and coverage of the event that can be found on the First Year Writing program website.

Upcoming Dates

The following Celebrations of Student Writing at Eastern Michigan University will be held in the Student Center Ballroom from 4-5:30 p.m. The event is open to the public.

25th Semiannual, Thursday, December 5, 2013 (Fall 2013)

26th Semiannual, Thursday, April 10, 2014 (Winter 2014)