Anita Helle

by Anita Helle, Interim WIC Director

As my term as Interim WIC Director comes to a close, I have been thinking about the meanings of resilience for WIC and the teaching of writing. 

Resilience, and the reconceptualization of resilience, has been at the center of scholarly discussion as world-changing events call us to re-examine our commitments and to reflect on how to become more active, thoughtful, and resilient practitioners.

Resilience; fr Latin, resilience, “to rebound, recoil” and re-salire, “to jump, to leap.” Syn: Refers to “elasticity” of persons or substances from 1824.

Oxford English Dictionary

Resilience should not be glamourized where historical burdens of injustice have been too long endured.

But one gathering of scholars in a recent special issue of the cross-disciplinary journal Pedagogy 19:2 (2019), has advanced an idea of “rhetorical resilience” based on hope—and change. Building on the re-conceptualization of resilience by Elizabeth Flynn et al (2012), rhetorical resilience refers to a “dynamic creativity, reshaping possibilities, opportunities, meanings, and subjects” through acts of writing. Flynn argues that when we help students advance their capabilities as writers in the disciplines, we are calling them to resilience rooted in “agency and relationality,” driven by “empathy and empowerment” as future worlds are re-imagined. I can think of no more powerful motive for renewing the commitment to WIC teaching and learning in uncertain times. Here is a link to the special issue of Pedagogy for your summer reading.

The values that underpin WIC have proved institutionally resilient during this transitional year:

  • Spring term alone, 112 WIC courses were taught online, 77 of which migrated from hybrid or lecture formats to accommodate COVID remote teaching.
  • Over 20 WIC Bacc Core course changes and new courses were reviewed and approved winter and spring terms.  
  • 25 Culture of Writing Awards were given across the university at the end of AY 2019-20.
  • 3 WIC Spring Term Lunches were conducted by Zoom, with presentations and participation from faculty across six colleges at OSU Corvallis and OSU Cascades.

Highlights of this issue of Teaching with Writing include an interview with incoming WIC Director Dr. Sarah Perrault, a reflection on our final lunch session for the year on WIC and Multimodality, and a call for nominations for the Fall 2020 WIC Faculty Seminar.  

Sincere thanks to faculty, to Alix Gitelman, members of the WIC team (Caryn Stoess, Marisa Yerace, Matt Fuller, and Alex Werndli), and the WIC Advisory Board for the many pleasures of working alongside you this year.

–Anita Helle, Interim WIC Director

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